What we did to Mahmuda Khatun
She was written up by the tabloids as a 30 day bloodthirsty bride. But what does the Khatun case really tell us about how Britain views women of colour?
Mahmuda Khutan murdered her husband with a single stab wound to the chest while he was watching television. You know that part of the story. But you probably don’t know Mahmuda.
I know many Mahmudas. I know their histories, the way their faces crease behind sheets of tissues and bottled up tears, I know the NHS leaflets they hide in their abayas on safe sex and family planning. I know the way they flee their husbands in the middle of the night to the safety of divorced aunts, I know the way they press ice against their bruises and welts, I know the way they pray for hours in the mosque for their parents to agree to one more year of school, one more year of college, one more year unmarried and learning, thriving, dreaming. I know how empty desks look at the end of each summer term in year 11, with so many bright young women gone forever. I know the loveless, lonely marriages. I know that desperation. I know that story. We might not talk about it in Britain, but we all know that story.
I’m not saying it’s okay that Mahmuda Khatun killed her husband. I’m not saying that his family aren’t right to grieve, show anger and horror at her actions. I’m not justifying what she did, or trying to absolve her of autonomy in her actions. But I will die on the hill that at least some of the blame for what happened lies with us: the wider British public. The British authorities. British schools. British police officers. British citizens. British social workers. And here’s why:
Mahmuda Khutan killed her husband because she never had the autonomy or protection that a white British woman would.
I’ll be clear from the off: this article isn’t about Islam oppressing women. None of this issue is. If it was, we wouldn’t see brilliant Shia, Sunni and Sufi women succeed as doctors, authors, or officers. We wouldn’t see Muslim women attaining the highest possible positions in law, medicine, science, and business. I completely believe- resolutely, that a blanket blame on…