On April 23d 2012 a young woman, Maria Barin Aydin, who just had turned 19 was savagely murdered in her flat in Landskrona. She was killed with 107 stabs from two different kitchen knives and a pair of scissors. Maria Barin had as a child been kidnapped and forced to marry in Iraq, was raped there, but succeeded to flee and get back to Sweden. She couldn’t stand the forced marriage. Here she went to upper secondary school and had dreams of becoming a hair dresser. She was a pretty, lively girl, social and loving, but her family didn’t accept her wishes to live a life of her own choosing.
In the summer of 2011 Maria Barin turned up in Malmoe, at the association Tänk om! They are working against honor-related violence, crime and abuse. The organisation was started by Newroz Zeynep Ötünc, a Kurdish woman with her roots in Turkey, but who grew up here in Sweden. Maria Barin was frighetened and sensed that her family would hurt her or even kill her. For several months Maria travelled from Landskrona to Malmoe and recieved help from the company often several times a week. They tried to help the young woman getting a safe house/flat. She participated in the social events arranged by Tänk om!, or just threw herself on their sofa for a nap. She was funny and laughed a lot, but other times her anxiety and fear shone through. Finally she got a flat of her own in Landskrona… Not far away enough from her family. Just a few days before she was murdered she expressed her fear of her family, especially her mother and brother, in a taped interview. Maria Barin’s mother was arrested but released from lack of evidence. On November 15th 2012 Maria Barin Aydin’s 17-year old brother was charged in court for murdering his older sister. He denied the charges, but the taped interview, the background story and forensic evidence points to the brother. Yesterday on January the 29th 2013 he was sentenced to eight years in prison by Lund City Court. Maria’s sister has acted as plaintiff in the case, the Prosecutor and those who work against honour-related violence are satisfied. The Defence most likely will take the case to the Court of Appeal, but the verdict from yesterday may remain as a signal to those in society who continue to keep these values alive. Maria was brutally killed and won’t breathe again. But the memory of her, Maria’s smile and strong wish to live a life of her own choosing lives on!
In the beginning of May 2012 I was contacted by Tänk om! to participate in the arrangement of a peaceful commemoration event at Gustav Adolf Square in remembrance of Maria Barin and others who suffer from honour-related oppression and violence, and those who have been killed in the name of “honour”. It was a beautiful evening as well as a worthy and moving manifestation. I and the others helped building the stage and carry the signs and torches. During the manifestation some guys showed bullets in their hands as a silent intimidation and later people working for Tänk om! have recieved death threats. Another aspect is the xenophobic attitudes in society and when I was handing out information leaflets about the manifestation three ordinary Swedes in downtown Malmoe said: “Let them kill each other. Then we don’t have to”. That was a very cynical and cruel statement.
Sadly enough Maria Barin didn’t get a worthy burial, but a neglected one by her family. Newroz and many others want to see harder punishments for participating in honor killings and abuse in the name of “family honour”. The awareness is growing in the Swedish society and social authorities, schools and parts of the judicial system have improved their policies. Now we also must see a true acceptance from the families to agree to the choices of young women like Maria Barin, Fadime, Pela and all the others. Let them live, accept them for who they are and let them shape their own lifes!
Anders Moberg, January the 30th 2013