The husband of Fakhara Karim ordered her to kill herself. He took her into their bathroom, forced her to drink bleach and grabbed her neck so hard she thought she was going to die. On another occasion he beat her with a cricket bat, telling her “if I hit you with this bat with my full power you would be dead.” When he wasn’t physically assaulting his wife, Mustafa Bashir was telling her whom to see, what to wear and how to spend her money. He subjected his wife to a reign of terror, and did so knowingly, as your everyday, loving abuser invariably does.
After pleading guilty to assault occasioning actual bodily harm, Bashir was sentenced to 18 months’ imprisonment suspended for two years. During sentencing, Judge Richard Mansell QC declared himself “not convinced” that Karim was “a vulnerable person”:
“Sometimes women who moved here from their country become trapped in a relationship where they lose their support network of family and friends and cannot speak the language. This is not the case [Karim]. She is plainly an intelligent woman with a network of friends and did go on to graduate university with a 2:1 and a masters.”
These comments have provoked outrage, with many believing Bashir’s light sentence to have been based on the idea that Karim was too privileged to have suffered real harm. Indeed, upon reading Mansell’s words, I was reminded of Judge Sir John Leonard’s claim, following the 1986 Ealing vicarage rape, that the trauma suffered by Jill Saward was “not so very great.”