Zahra al-Azzo

September 2007

Zahra al-Azzo, 16 years-old, was brutally stabbed to death by her own brother, in a plan that had been arranged by her family months before. Zahra`s ordeal started in spring of 2006, when she was blackmailed by a man who threatened to reveal details of her father’s extra-marital affair to the family. Fearing that her father and his mistress would be killed if discovered, Zahra, then only 15, was forced to flee to Damascus with her abductor, who then subsequently raped her. The police, alerted to the situation by the family, found the couple and convicted Zahraès abductor to 15 years’ imprisonment, for kidnapping and rape. Fearing that Zahra would be blamed for the rape and killed by her relatives, the police placed Zahra in a prison for girls. Her family tried to regain custody of her 3 times during that period, but were refused as it was determined they could not guarantee her safety. In December 2006, Zahra’s 27-year-old cousin Fawaz, agreed to marry her, as this would by ‘tradition’ restore her honour, and secure her safety. Zahra was released into Fawaz’s custody, after her father signed a sworn statement guaranteeing that neither he nor anyone in the family would harm Zahra. Yet a month after their wedding, after Fawaz had left for work one morning, Zahra’s brother, Fayez, entered the apartment using a stolen key, and stabbed her five times in the head and back: brutal, tearing thrusts that shattered the base of her skull and nearly severed her spinal column.

Fayez turned himself in to the police. Zahra died the following morning in hospital.
Zahra’s relatives held celebrations in their village after receiving word that she had been killed and their honour restored.

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