Everyday Victim Blaming

challenging institutional disbelief around domestic & sexual violence and abuse

Former Lidl Manager who beheaded his wife after ‘snapping like a stick’ is jailed.

'His wife' was called Tahira Ahmed and in a report earlier today, ITV.com (among many others) appears to imply that the genetic and disabling condition that Tahira had to contend with called Morquio's Syndrome was a reason or excuse for the repeated violence she endured in her marriage culminating in the deliberate and brutal attack that ended her life.

Her husband, forty one year old Naveed Ahmed arrived in the UK in 1998, shortly before his marriage to Tahira which was arranged by the couples mothers. The court was told that he came to 'regret' the marriage because of her disability which, in conjunction with the recent loss of his job (we are not told WHY he lost his job) caused him to 'snap like a stick with the strain.' There is no mention of Tahira having to cope with a violent and abusive husband and her disability and the strain this must have placed upon her. Remember that she also had severe mobility problems. Tahira would have found it even harder to protect herself. Not that any woman finds it 'easy' to protect herself.

We know Tahira had to cope with an abusive husband because the Old Bailey heard that officers had previously been called to the house they both shared with their children on a 'number of occasions' following reports of violence by Mrs Ahmed, but no action was taken. This fact was reported by several other news sites and the Mirror additionally tells us that this violence by Mr Ahmed dated back as early as the year 2000. That is over fourteen years of violence endured by Mrs Ahmed. No reason is given for why the police took no action but it would be fair to surmise that there are people who will wrongly assume this is because it was not 'serious enough'. Whatever that means- all violence is serious. All violence in the home is the start of something as opposed to a singular, self contained and isolated moment. All violence in the home is wrong. All violence in the home is illegal.

Tahira's husband 'snapped like a stick' which implies he had 'had enough' of something. It implies that his 'patience' or 'strength' with a situation had 'run out.' It implies that prior to that he was strong, like a piece of doughty wood. It implies that he was weakened by something Tahira did- like being disabled and unable to move around much maybe?

So he beat her with a table leg, stabbed her over seventy times and decapitated her. I apologise for repeating this. I can barely stand to type it but we need to see this in the context of that statement 'snapped like a stick.' The idea that Tahira 'drove him' to such desperation that he destroyed her. This woman of whom her family said was, " the kindest, most patient and gentle individual, who lived for her children and family. She devoted her life to the welfare of her children and their best possible upbringing."

It gets worse. Judge Christopher Moss QC (who otherwise appears to have grasped the barbarity of the husbands crime) said today "Your marriage is reported as being volatile with suggestions of violence." Again, this implies that Tahira herself contributed to the violence and volability, that even if she did argue with him (and neighbours reported hearing arguing on the day she died) this somehow laid the ground for her husband to kill her. I am going to assume that the referral to violence refers to HIS violence but this needs to be made explicitly clear. It wasn't the marriage that was volatile. It was the husband. It wasn't the marriage that had suggestions of violence, It was the husband and they were more than suggestions. They were bloody great CAPITAL LETTERED BILL BOARD 'THIS MAN IS VIOLENT' SHOUTS.

The neighbours (predictably) described them as "a lovely couple who 'always looked very happy together'" despite the fact that they could not be unaware of the previous visits by police because of Mr Ahmeds violence towards Tahira. Again, this is set against the reality of the crime as though, again, this man suffered some sort of excusable aberration, that this 'loveliness' mitigates what he did. The argument was enough that it prompted a call to the police which in itself is suggestive of the neighbours concerns.

Tahira's family seem to have the measure of the man and they offer wise advice to any woman in the position that Tahira was in. "We would like to collectively encourage any individual who has suffered domestic violence at any level to speak up, turn to the appropriate authorities for help and leave their abusers. You do not need to suffer in silence."

But Tahira DID speak up. Tahira did turn to a very appropriate authority, the police. Tahira did ask for help yet police apparently took no further action. Now we don't know why this is but what we do know is that it can be very hard to speak up when you are from the cultural background that Tahira came from. We know that there can be strong taboos on speaking up, about leaving a marriage. Tahira lived in Northolt which is not too far away from the organisation Southall Black Sisters who are highly experienced in dealing with the issue of domestic violence and can act as advisors, liaison and support to both victim and the police.

We do not know whether they were consulted. We do not know whether Tahira approached them. What we do know though, is that this week two unidentified police officers from another force were sent to the home of a woman making a complaint of violence against her by a man. When they were unable to reach her via phone, they left a message and inadvertently recorded their true feelings. To her horror she heard them refer to her as a 'fucking slag' and a 'bitch.' This must be viewed in the context of Tahira's murder and the revelation that she had asked for help although there is no suggestion that the police spoke of her in this manner.

Until we have a culture change within the police about how they regard violence against women in their own homes by people they are or were in a relationship with and the way too, that they regard the victim, things will not significantly improve and more women will die.

I will leave the last word to the family: "Tahira, we miss you every second of everyday."


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