Murder of Sadia Sheikh

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Sadia Sheikh
Honour killing of Sadia Sheikh.png
Died(2007-10-22)22 October 2007
Resting placePakistan
EducationHaute Ecole provinciale de Charleroi [fr] (HEPCUT), Athénée Royal Vauban
Occupation(at time of death) Student at HEPCUT
Known forBeing the victim of an honour killing in Charleroi

The honour killing of Sadia Sheikh occurred on 22 October 2007, when a 20-year-old Belgian woman of Pakistani heritage was fatally shot by her brother, an act of sororicide. The murder occurred in Lodelinsart, Charleroi.[1] Sheikh had left her family home after her parents pressured her to marry a cousin who she had never met, later moving in with a Belgian man, but had visited to try to make peace. Her brother, Mudusar Sheikh, confessed to the murder in a 2011 trial, claiming that he had acted alone, but a jury pronounced all four members of the family guilty of the murder and sentenced each to prison. The case has been called Belgium's first honour killing trial.


Born in Pakistan in 1949, Sheikh's father, Tarik Mahmood Sheikh, was himself wed by arranged marriage to her mother,[2] Parveen Zahida.[3] Tarik arrived in Belgium in 1973. The children were born in Brussels, and the family lived in Charleroi.[1]

Sheikh was a student at the Athénée Royal Vauban;[4] and then Haute Ecole provinciale de Charleroi (HEPCUT), which merged into the Haute École provinciale de Hainaut Condorcet [fr].[5]

When Sheikh's parents, who owned businesses in both Belgium and Pakistan, attempted to force her to accept an arranged marriage to a cousin she had never met in Pakistan, she instead left home to study law.[2][6] She felt threatened to the point that she drew up a will at a centre for victims of domestic violence. Soon after, she moved in with Jean, a Belgian man her age.[7] Whilst unwilling to comply with her family's demands, she had not surrendered the hope of reconciliation. On 22 October, then in her final year of law school,[8] she visited her family in hopes of mending the rift, but instead she was shot three times.[7] In the shooting, her sister Sariya Sheikh was also wounded by a bullet in the arm.[9]

Trial and punishment[edit]

On 21 November 2011, Sheikh's family—including her parents, brother Mudusar and sister Sariya—stood trial for her death. Sheikh's brother was accused of the shooting, while the rest of the family was accused of aiding and abetting the murder and "attempting to arrange a marriage."[6] Prosecutors sought 20 – 30 years for Sariya Sheikh, who they claimed held Sheikh while she was shot, and life imprisonment for the rest of her family.[8][10] The trial was held in Mons.[9]

During the trial, Mudusar Sheikh confessed to the crime, also claiming that he attempted to murder his sister Sariya.[7] Other members of the family also claimed that Mudusar Sheikh was solely responsible for the murder. According to them, he acted in rage, but Mudusar Sheikh himself testified that the act was premeditated.[10] He clarified that "I didn't want to take her (Sadia's) life, but to make her feel as bad as I felt."[11] During the trial, evidence had been presented to suggest that Mudusar Sheikh, himself to marry a cousin in Pakistan, had been very close to his sister Sadia, his closest sibling in age.[2]

On 9 December 2011, the jury found all four family members guilty of the murder, with the aggravating factor that it was an honour killing, and the brother and father guilty of attempting to force an arranged marriage.[12][13] Sentencing was handed down on 12 December. The court found that the parents had orchestrated the event, ordering their son to do the shooting.[10] For that reason, although Mudusar Sheikh himself was sentenced to 15 years, Sheikh's mother and father were sentenced to 20 and 25 respectively.[11] The 22-year-old Sariya Sheikh, five months pregnant at the time of sentencing, was given five years, a light sentence due to her youth at the time of the crime.[8][12] In December 2011 Sheikh's parents were reported to be appealing their sentences.[14] Sariya Sheikh also entered an appeal, to preserve the right, but it was reported she may not follow through if her attorneys do not find sufficient grounds.[15]

The case has been called Belgium's first honour killing trial.[11] It has been positioned as a gender equality issue by civil rights groups.[10] During the trial, the courthouse had to be briefly cleared when it received a bomb threat from a person alleging to be part of a Pakistani organization, but the threat proved false.[8]

Parveen Zahida was released after six years of prison.[16]


Following the court's verdict, the English-language Pakistani newspaper Dawn commented that Pakistan "would do well to take a leaf out of Belgium's book" given the regularity of reported honour killings in Pakistan and the common lack of punishment. The editorial laments that the "honour-killing debate is still at that medieval stage" in their country.[17]


Sadia's burial took place in Pakistan.[18]

In popular culture[edit]

The film A Wedding (2016) is based on this case.[19]

See also[edit]

Honour killings of people of Pakistani heritage outside of Pakistan

See also: Honour killing in Pakistan


  1. ^ a b "Affaire Sadia Sheikh : le portrait des accusés et de Sadia". RTBF (in French). 2011-11-25. Retrieved 2019-12-27. [...]frère Mudusar le 22 octobre 2007 à Lodelinsart près de Charleroi.
  2. ^ a b c "Affaire Sadia Sheikh : le portrait des accusés et de Sadia". RTBF (in French). 25 November 2011. Retrieved 21 December 2011.
  3. ^ "La mère de Sadia Sheikh va être libérée". 7 Sur 7 (in French). 2017-09-12. Retrieved 2020-04-19.
  4. ^ Van Winckel, Mathieu (2017-10-22). "Dix ans après la mort de Sadia Sheikh, les mariages forcés restent une réalité, mais la société est plus vigilante". RTBF. Retrieved 2019-12-27. Sadia avait fréquenté l'Athénée Vauban à Charleroi.
  5. ^ "Mère et soeur inculpées pour l'assassinat de Sadia". RTBF. 2010-09-22. Retrieved 2019-12-27.
  6. ^ a b "Pakistani family stand trial for 'honour killing'". Dawn. AFP. 21 November 2011. Retrieved 16 December 2011.
  7. ^ a b c "'I left you for dead': brother admits shooting sister in 'honour killing' and attempting to kill other sibling". Sydney Morning Herald. AFP. 22 November 2011. Retrieved 16 December 2011.
  8. ^ a b c d "Tot 25 jaar cel voor moordenaars Sadia Sheikh". Het Nieuwsblad (in Dutch). 13 December 2011. Retrieved 21 December 2011.
  9. ^ a b Ghosh, Palash R. (21 November 2011). "Belgian 'Honor Killing' trial places entire family on dock". International Business Times. Archived from the original on 30 November 2011. Retrieved 22 December 2011.
  10. ^ a b c d "Family jailed for honour killing of Sadia". AFP. December 13, 2011. Retrieved 21 December 2011.
  11. ^ a b c "Pakistani family guilty of Belgian honour killing: media". AFP. 12 December 2011. Retrieved 16 December 2011.
  12. ^ a b "Procès Sadia: les parents écopent des peines les plus lourdes". (in French). 12 December 2011. Retrieved 16 December 2011.
  13. ^ "Procès Sadia: les quatre membres de la famille Sheikh déclarés coupables". (in French). 9 December 2011. Retrieved 21 December 2011.
  14. ^ "Ouders van Sadia Sheikh gaan in cassatieberoep". De Standaard (in Dutch). 16 December 2011. Retrieved 21 December 2011.
  15. ^ "Sariya Sheikh, la sœur de Sadia, ira aussi en cassation mais pas Mudusar". RTBF (in French). 22 December 2011. Retrieved 22 December 2011.
  16. ^ "La mère de Sadia Sheikh libérée après 6 ans de prison". La Dernière Heure. 2017-12-08. Retrieved 2020-04-19.
  17. ^ "Crimes of 'honour'". Dawn. 15 December 2011. Retrieved 16 December 2011.
  18. ^ Detaille, Stéphane (2011-11-19). "Sadia, morte d'avoir voulu vivre". Le Soir. Retrieved 2019-12-27. Sadia a été inhumée au Pakistan,[...]
  19. ^ Laurent, Patrick (7 March 2017). ""Noces", le film belge signé Stephan Streker à ne pas manquer". La DH (in French). Retrieved 1 February 2019.

Further reading[edit]