Mahmod was born in Iraq and moved to England with her family when she was 10 years old. She was forced to marry an older man who abused her physically and sexually. Mahmod left her husband and fell in love with someone of her own choosing: Rahmat Sulemani, an Iranian Kurd.
Mahmod's uncle, Ari Mahmod, and father, Mahmod Babakir Mahmod, disapproved of Banaz's actions and felt that she had shamed them. Fearing for her safety, Mahmod went to the police for help five times before her death. In January 2006, Mahmod's uncle and father had her raped and murdered, in revenge for her refusal to accept their determination to control who she saw and who she married. This act of rape and murder has been referred to in the press as an honour killing.
Detective Chief Inspector Caroline Goode of the Metropolitan Police led the investigation to recover the body of Mahmod and prosecute her killers, securing the first-ever extradition from Iraq to the United Kingdom.
Inspector Goode explained that when the police had asked for information from the Kurdish community living in South London, they were met with attempts by community members to hinder the investigation and protect the suspects.
Mahmod's father and uncle were sentenced to life in prison in 2007 for ordering the killing, along with a third man, Mohammad Hama, who is alleged to have actually carried out the act. Two of Mahmod's cousins, Mohammed Saleh Ali and Omar Hussain, also implicated in the murder, fled to Iraq and were extradited in 2010 to serve at least 22 and 21 years in prison. Another cousin, Dana Amin, was jailed in 2013 for helping to dispose of Mahmod's body.
Her story was chronicled in the 2012 documentary film Banaz: A Love Story, directed and produced by Deeyah Khan. In 2015 actor/rapper Riz MC released a song, entitled "Benaz", which was based on Banaz's story, in his mixtape Englistan released on St. George's Day.
- McVeigh, Tracy (22 September 2012). "'They're following me': chilling words of girl who was 'honour killing' victim". The Observer. Retrieved 14 December 2015.
- Barton, Fiona (12 June 2007). "The tragic story of Banaz Mahmod: she fell in love at 19, so her family killed her". Daily Mail. Retrieved 14 December 2015.
- Brown, Martyn (21 July 2007). "Lover tells of torment as 3 get life for honour killing". Daily Express. Retrieved 14 December 2015.
- Peachey, Paul (24 September 2012). ""Still now they follow me": Footage of Banaz Mahmod warning police before her 'honour' killing to be shown for the first time". The Independent. Retrieved 28 September 2012.
- "Banaz Mahmod 'honour' killing cousins jailed for life". BBC News. 10 November 2010. Retrieved 14 December 2015.
- "Seventh man jailed over 'honour killing' of Banaz Mahmod". The Guardian. Press Association. 6 December 2013. Retrieved 14 December 2015.
- "Cousin 'still proud' of disposing of honour killing-victim's body, judge says". The Daily Telegraph. 6 December 2013. Retrieved 14 December 2015.
- Mistry, Anupa (11 May 2016). "Riz MC's Englistan Mixtape Is A Post-Multiculturalism Shout". The Fader. Retrieved 24 October 2016.