Banaz: A Love Story

Banaz: A Love Story

2012, Biography  -   73 Comments
Ratings: 8.54/10 from 314 users.

Banaz Mahmod was executed for the crime of love. Strangled to death at 20 years of age and stuffed in a suitcase, Mahmod was the subject of an "honor killing". This classification of murder is committed by members of the victim's own family in response to an act of perceived shame of dishonor. The feature-length documentary Banaz: A Love Story tells the harrowing story of her short life and brutal murder at the hands of those who should have cared for her the most.

At the age of ten, Mahmod moved with her family from northern Iraq to Britain. Seven years later, she wed a significantly older man in an arranged marriage. When that relationship turned threatening and violent, she took steps to end the marriage, and fell in love with a man of her own choosing in the process. Given the restrictive nature of her heritage, particularly as it pertains to even the most basic of women's rights, these acts were looked upon by several members of her family as severe offenses worthy of the ultimate punishment.

The film paints a horrific, yet deeply sensitive and human portrait of a woman full of promise, but long victimized by a culture designed to oppress her. The most devastating insights come from an older sister who testified against her own family during the trial. Insisting upon remaining nameless, living in hiding, and masked behind a burka out of fear for her own life, she recounts a stunningly beautiful woman whose greatest sin was a desire to transcend the limitations set upon her.

These limitations were inflicted early upon Mahmod, the sister recounts, as she and each of her female siblings were forced to suffer genital mutilation at the hands of their own family from an early age. She continued to suffer indifference from those who should have protected her in the weeks prior to her demise, as she sought counsel from the police on five different occasions and was only met with skepticism and inaction each time.

The winner of multiple prestigious awards, Banaz: A Love Story is justifiably difficult to watch at times, but i'’s a personal portrait that demands attention and empathy from all.

Directed by: Deeyah Khan

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73 Comments / User Reviews

  1. Eric

    I don't like to wear my glasses when watching TV, because I want to relax. The subtitles make the film work for me, because I must keep my glasses on. I would appreciate verbal translations (voiceovers) when translations are necessary.

  2. Freddie Mesquit

    Those punks deserved a good month long head kicking. If they survive, strip them naked blindfold and bind them and pour chicken grease on their sex organs and pitch them into a nice dark alley in some big city where vicious and hungry rats as big as cats scurry looking for fresh meat.

  3. Bitethetruth

    If the older sister had reported the earlier attempted murder by her Father and Uncle Banaz might be alive today.

    1. Sareeha

      By Muslim you mean Arab culture, not that anyone should chide you over it, most Muslims even in the West cannot separate culture from religion, nor want to. (Personal experience.) for Jess, no, the West doesnt see forced marriage as part of the society, no, the West does not think its natural to marry and have sex with cousins (in laws trust a relative daughter in law to take care of them in old age more than a stranger in some Pakistani communities.) No, collective family honour is not the norm where adult women are property of their fathers at all times unless married. Usually religious western cults practice this. DM between spouses is in every culture but lets not pretend theres no unique differences. I agree with not importing this mentality....for the health of the kids that would be born with culture generation gap.

  4. Mike Jones

    TOTALLY WITH TRUMP ON THIS ONE. IT IS PRETTY MUCH A MUSLIM THING. Dont need that kind of disrespect to woman in my country. Seems to spread like a virus. Keep muslims in the middle east #KMIME

    1. Jess

      So In "YOUR" country, Sexual assault, Domestic Violence or abuse against women doesn't happen, or is it not considered disrespectful? Christian men don't belittle or abuse woman... Dude really?

    2. Educated yourself

      People like you are the reason why being ignorant is blissful. The Quran, the holy book for Muslims (info for your small brain), doesn't encourage this. They say that women should be respected. Not a muslim thing, it happens in the US as well, but its covered up. These happen because men think they are superior over women and this has been going on since human were able to make this concept tangible. This happens because people worry too much about what people think and how they are protrayed.

  5. stead

    I do feel very sorry for this poor girl but seriously, what do these women expect when they are forced to be covered from head to toe in a bin bag? Respect? Equality? And I'm willing to bet the police bitch who grassed her up to her family was one of the UK's culturally enriched police force. Pfft.

    1. idbtk

      dude. you cant even spell bean bag.
      so shut up please

    2. Jessica

      These women or not forced to be covered head to toe in a "bin Bag" get your facts straight? Research the Hijab or Niqaab, Google is freely available to everyone.... actually go look at images of Hijab tell me how many of them look like bin bags to you

  6. Welv

    Fuk the UK police seriously especially that one listening to her cry in the room and did nothing about it 3 months! To write 1 statement!! Fuk the police. Mother was also part of it and set it all up she should’ve been killed or in jail

  7. Sarah

    It's not the religion. It's the conditioning. The environment. The culture. Sure, one can have their religion, but to have logic and reasoning, anything that makes up your personality - is a different story. If you are a person of compassion, or even moral principles and you add religion to the picture, how you display your religion will be reflected through your compassion, and moral principles. Why? Because that is who you are and it will show in anything that you become involved with.

    People are who they are due to conditioning and how they are raised often enough, comes with unpredictable results. If a child is brought up rapped and severely beaten, without proper guidance or help, this trauma will mold their entire life. Why? Because the basic foundation of support is not there for them so they relive the trauma instead. The same goes with religion. It's a support system, but ultimately who you are as a person defines your actions - not the religion.

    As far as morals go and principles, most religions promote compassion and loving your neighbor. How can killing someone due to differences or your own ego be an act of religion when it's the very thing religion speaks out against? I don't want to talk so much about religion really, but I hope people can understand that you have to put religion aside and look at the people behind the wheel of their life. That is the only way to know for sure who you are dealing with. Separate the two and there will be less talk about the book cover and more about the story itself.

    This story had me in tears,especially when they talked about how they tortured Banaz. I felt such pain and anger all at once, but I know that because this story is out - it is changing peoples lives. So I wont get wrapped up in the pain or the events, but rather the progression that has taken place that is helping others now. That is what matters now. Thank you Banaz for having such amazing courage and strength. Your light brought forth an issue that will now help many others. RIP.

    1. Jill

      Wow. Extraordinarily insightful and lovely comment.

    2. Jessica

      YES! Some truth right their

    3. Human being

      I think that we should be able to criticize everything even religion. You may think that religion has nothing to do with it, but you might have lost a very valuable piece of detail in saying that. Everything has an impact on a human mind and by saying that religion doesn’t cause any harm is a very black and white statement. I was a brought up in a religious household and in my experience religion, religion has a negative influence on my critical thinking and made me fear supernatural causes that could be explained with logic and reasoning. Religion also divide people, I am a exchristian and i have a Muslim girlfriend, and she fear to tell her parents about me because they will disprove of her choice because I come from a Christian family and that I am an atheist which makes the matter even worse. So stop saying that religion has nothing to do with it, because it does in my matter cause a huge problem. Me not believing in god makes the situation even worse, her parents would not accept me at all, so religion have a negative side like everything else in this world. Religion can be a good thing for a lot of people, but you have to also consider the bad side or more people will suffer in silent like me.

      Religion and culture is inseparable according to an study made by Oxford University:

      ‘’From this perspective, religion and culture are inseparable, as beliefs and practices are uniquely cultural. For example, religious rituals (one type of practice) unite believers in a religion and separate nonbelievers. ... Simmel (1950) believed that religious and cultural beliefs develop from one another.25 jan. 2017‘’

  8. Eddie

    Sick people! Poor little girl. :(

  9. R.

    This documentary broke my heart. Still an issue in the Middle Eastern culture yet most of the world turns a blind eye. Feminist need to fight & bring awareness for these legitimate causes.

  10. LMZelda

    So sad. You can argue about whether this is about religion or culture but what you're all doing is the same - trying to put the people who did this into another category of humanity, or even deny them human status altogether. The truth is that there is only one humanity, and we are all in it. In a nutshell, it's not 'their' problem, it's our problem, a problem we are collectively burdened with. One more thing - there is no honor in killing.

  11. Jen Z

    This story broke my heart. That poor girl.

  12. Dave Scotese

    When bulls rush the matador or cocks strike each other with their barbed feet, we are entertained. Well, some of us are. A few of us feel for these poor creatures who are trying to kill each other (or the matador) because they know nothing else. I see Ali the same way. Of course he was and likely remains a horrible person, but I doubt that anyone has ever put the idea in his head that females are awesome, and much moreso when you can provide for them in ways they find acceptable. They have agency and make choices, and when you respect those choices, life can be pretty fantastic. I believe I am writing things that are so foreign to the culture of the Mahmod family that none of them can understand it. Can anyone close to them understand it? Are we left forever to suffer from this distinct lack of sense? Cultural norms need not be life sentences. Evil exists far more often because of stupidity than it does because of malice. Even malice tends to come from stupidity.

    Stupidity itself generally comes from those who know judging that those who don't know are evil. Open up, teach them. Give them a chance to deal effectively with what is real. I guess this message is for a man with the courage and brains who knows Ali or someone who knows Ali or Banaz' father. People who leave a trail of suffering often stop doing so when they learn that there is a better way. Perhaps Banaz' brother, the one who was sent after her sister who was interviewed, will have a chance to pass on some idea of what the men in a culture that treats women like domestic animals are missing out on.

  13. Dalia Panova

    A heartbreaking documentary! The world is a complicated place and people's beliefs and understandings often demolish love and life - two major fundamentals. The story of Benaz will never be forgotten, but it is very likely to become the story of many other women...

  14. Sunita

    You feel disgusted and tremendous sadness. Why do some people hate "love"?

  15. Name

    Hopefully the prison guards shared the reason those guys are in prison with the other prisoners, for gang raping and murdering their own cousin, and that they get raped daily in prison by bull queers.

  16. Culture by Religion

    It is the fault of the culture, but the culture is enabled by the religion. To deny that it is related to the religion is to embrace ignorance, and shed light on the degree of your own indoctrination into the religion of hatred.

  17. Says Truth

    Very good documentary. What a sad state of events. Just as Western culture has evolved from witch hunts and burnings, somehow these other archaic cultures need to evolve to modern times.

  18. Shahid Chowdhury

    We hate this stupid barbaric tribal culture of Saudi-Arabia,Iraq, Turkey, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Syria, Iran, Egypt and Somalia etc. This culture does not match with the Quran and Hadith. These tribal murderers are brutal, merciless, ferocious and uneducated like beast. As a Muslim, I hate them and their activities.

  19. Connie

    I refuse to see the film...because I imagine it more vividly then a film. I am a creative, sensitive woman...empathetic as a teacher to children...and I can put myself into this good woman's life and feel her feelings. I am currently fighting the huge battle of pedophilia in the world....then I will tackle parental abuse by children. There are so many fights I cannot count.... Meantime I tell children and women never to go to the police on issues where their life is in danger. I tell them to go to friends, loving family members...arrange escape, hiding, etc. I have seen too much incompetence, corruption and mental illness in law enforcement and the judicial. I wish I had been in this woman's life...I would have done anything possible to help her. I always say..when there is a murder of a human life..that soul flies into a newborn child's spirit...and begins again...

    1. Mike Jones

      how far did you get

  20. Haris Numan

    My emotions are so strong that I do not know what to write.
    I cried and cried.
    I could not believe that the honor of the family was more important than human nobility that could be seen in the eyes of this beautiful woman. Great shame and responsibility falls on the official state institutions for failing to recognize her cry for help.

    1. maria pezzano

      so true...i feel the same.....

  21. Geert

    The decision makers in this case, for example the police interviewing Banaz in her family home in front of her family, should be executed. I mean the girl under all this pressure, and fear, only increased.

  22. kay shasly

    it has nothing to do with religion , this is culture issues. Islam is the religion of humanity and it has been wrongly practiced by ignorant people

  23. Neena Minelli

    I like the way you think MusicMan

  24. Neena Minelli

    Big shout out to the real men who watched this documentary and were touched by it and from the comments it pissed them off....Right on Papi's

  25. Neena Minelli

    I totally agree with Michel, please never shut up keep yelling, cursing insulting dude, I am right behind you. Every country says including sh*tty England, " oh my god so sad, what monsters" but this happened in the U.K, not in Iraq. WHY DIDN'T THE U.K SAVE HER??? NOW THEY MAKE A DOCUMENTARY AND GET AWARDS FOR THESE SAD STORIES, WHICH BROUGHT A LOT OF MONEY BUT THIS GIRL IS STILL DEAD.....That's what we do we make money off people's miseries and deaths with their books, documentaries, movies, interviews and nothing goes to the cause...All the money made on this should have gone to her sister the one that did not give a **** and said "see ya wouldn't wanna be ya" You can tell she loved her sister and was helpless...This was ****** up England, she warned you over and over and gave descriptions, names, what else did you want? You protect gangsters in programs when they snitch and you could not save this girl who came to you with her life and heart in her hand??? Like this id**t she just sits there giving this girl awkward silences and I'll let you know what I can do, st*pid b*tch....If this was not racism on England's part what is....They killed her too! and now they want to make excuses those racist pigs. MY GOD, PURE RACISM...BOY is Karma gonna have a ball with them, all that could have done something but didn't...No one listened. lack of training you piece of ****?? no pure good ole racism, call it for what it is...If I was president I would close the borders to the middle east including Isreal with their arrogant, chosen one's attitudes and stop worrying about Mexican. I would only let in the abused women there, not any men. I don't care how this sounds, it's my opinion right now...

  26. Jae

    What a waste of British resources. These people need to play by the rules of the UK or get out!!!

  27. MusicMan

    If this scum is TRULY so honorable, why don't they do the honorable thing and commit suicide?

  28. MusicMan

    @Goodie Are you serious? So sluts should be murdered? What about blonds? They should go too. Of course girls that play softball should be shot. Need to hang the females that drive too, obviously. What kinda of person are you?

  29. Pamela Allee

    This story makes it very difficult to regard the men of this culture s anything more than pigs (sorry to demean an animal by comparing it to an inhuman and inhumane criminal.).

  30. Last viewer

    Not a religious or cultural drama to me.
    I loved the ending when they quote the many others "Honor killings".
    In this material world, there's the religious & cultural rules but also the rule of laws of all the countries. Every religion state that their god will judge us in later times ; Not in this world.
    So ? Could you guys sit on it and have the patience ?

    The teaching in here ; efficient segregation is a good thing to humankind.
    Too bad the whole emane from one of the Moslem culture but we know that international shelter can is and is offered to anyone who has the will such as this young women.
    Although, the minute a next-kin of their family mysteriously disappear or die in an occidental soil; there should first be judgment then and if not guilty, the whole family sent back in their country ! They don't know ? We now know !

    What's the use of keeping such criminals in prison ?
    They were born like this and will die as such.
    The proof was good enough to put them all to to death.

    Most importantly, the mother should be present to all execution before being put to death.
    If any country accept any guys like this "Goodie" on their soil, send them in northern Irak and put back a dictator over there, as maniac as Saddam was.
    For sure, the family within this DOC wasn't one of Saddam favorites.
    - Look at the dates they flew away...
    - Just like anyone, I one had compassion learning that Saddam used USA chemical WMD.
    Such archaic cultures are dangerous to all human being.

    Useless in a better world.

    1. Anis Zuberi

      Do not drag Islam in such practices. How about Christians role in Holocaust, over 100 million dead in two Word Wars, daily killing of Palestinians, colonising Asia and Africa by Christian Europe. Atrocities committed in third world countries, using atomic bomb, exploiting resources of of Africa, Asia and Latin America and much more.

      Is all the result of Christ's teaching?

  31. daniel

    I am 36 years of age and I have never commented on a thread ever before, but this time I have to say something.... My first thoughts are in anger to the ones that did this to you, not just your family but those who where given the opportunity to save you and didn't. I could write a book on how confused, disgusted and upset I am that this was allowed to happen. But instead I would prefer to direct my thoughts to you Banaz, and to say that I am so sorry. I'm so sorry that in your short life you experienced so much hate and oppression, that you where never allowed to be free, that you felt like you had no one to turn to, no one cared, and that after all you went through, You still had to die in such an horrific way, I can only imagine how you must have felt in the last moments of your life. I wish with all my heart that I'd met you and discovered your position. The feelings of remorse are overwhelming to have not even been aware that you where there, somewhere, hurting, and afraid. You where a beautiful and delicate flower born into a world that you where simply to good for. I for one will never forget you, your story has effected me deeply, and I will forever hold you close to my heart. I am not a religious man, but I prey where ever you are, you are being looked after and treated the way you should have been from the moment you blessed this earth with your presence.

    I am lucky enough to have had 36 years of freedom and support from my family, I would trade in the rest of my days for just one day for you, to experience just that, a perfect day where you are free from fear, free to love and free to do what ever you want with nothing but support and love from those around you. If only I could give you this. :(

    I'm sorry xxxxxxxxx

    1. maria pezzano

      thank you xxxx

  32. Pete

    Poor woman, this is a very sad story. It's also sad because a great number of Muslim women are happily married and proud to serve the household, take care of their children at home, etc... Here in the West our children are instructed by strangers at a very young age and often exposed and scandalized by immoral behavior at a critical time of their psychological and spiritual development. There is bad in every society. At least in Islam, pornography is not rampant. I would love to see some counter balancing in documentaries that shows the good in a religion instead of always exposing the worst parts of it.

  33. Bernie

    If anyone is serious about discovering the truth about Islamic culture and it's originator the "prophet" Mohammed then read JK Sheindlin's The People Mohammed. It will reveal all about the origins of this barbaric culture. He was a sex fiend and schizoid thug who was also an excellent manipulator and liar. It's no wonder that women are objectified and subjugated anywhere that this warped religion prevails.

  34. Leigh Atkins

    Awww aren't they cute? The men of Banaz's family think they're people! Look at them walking around on their hind legs! You can tell that it's quite tiring for them though so we should just let them go back to walking on all fours, back in their dumpland of origin coz only civilized people are allowed to walk around in society without a leash & an owner. Why did they bother to go to the UK anyway? Wasn't their dumpland of origin any good anymore? I wonder why?!?!
    If these people want to walk around on 2 legs without a leash under the guise of a socially evolved human being, they need to leave their wild- dog lifestyle in the last millennium.
    Oh well, that's what you get when Satan is in charge of your heart & your life & we know that Satan is in charge here coz the proof of the pudding is in the eating. Look at the results.

  35. Karen

    All the culture is based on religion. I don't understand why you people saying it's not can't see it? Why did this mongrel gutted **** not just leave the family in whatever craphole he come from? You brought them to a country and killed her because she assimilated. DOG. And the rest of them are dogs too for doing this shit. (sorry, dogs of the world. YOU are welcome in my house anytime. Not these human scum)

  36. Ken

    Let's hope police learned to take things more seriously. Also: kids brought up in that toxic belief system have to do all they can to break free. If Banaz had spoken with me, I would have taken her far away from her murderous family and kept her safe. She would still be alive, but her mind would still be partially polluted by the putrid belief system she was brought up in. Whether she (and her sisters & brothers) can get clear-headed is debatable. Ask any North Korean or Arab: it's hard to get clear from harmful and sick brainwashing.

  37. Michel

    I'm a single father
    And what happened here bottles my mind, I do not care for religion or acts in the name of it, what I saw here...if I can find the words, is ''humanity'' at it's worst. How can a ''father'' kill is own little girl (in a father heart is girl is alway's little) The "man'' immigrated to the UK for a better life, and that's exactly what she was building for herself, he killed her for traditions and his place in the community well I'm Canadian and as I said before I don't care for religion tradition's.
    This monster shouldbe drop in the middle of the tundra (Nothern Québec) with nothing but a knife and some fishing line, if he makes it out I would give him life in jailed if not. Oh well.....

  38. Narayana

    This documentary has ripped a hole in my heart.

    I feel so angry at the police for failing to protect this girl and act on her multiple and candid statements. I think these police should loose their jobs and do time, they are responsible in part for the harm the befell Banaz.

    May god bless her forever.

  39. Brock

    This has absolutely nothing to do with religion, it's culture. And this is coming from someone who detests religion.

  40. TY

    The cops were completely incompetent to not help her after she contacted the first time let alone after the fifth time. You can easily see the severity of her situation from the video taped interview, she even asks "what can you do for me?" the answer was absolutely nothing, and it resulted in a devastating tragedy that could have been avoided. Also barbaric religious practices have no place in modern society, honour killings are huge issue and made all the more tragic because these girls are being abused and murdered by the people who should be protecting them, their own families.

  41. Rasha

    This has nothing to do with religion. Those cowards were criminals.

  42. Michel Polnicky

    qani it's 2016 wake the hell up annd stop lying this has everything to do with Islam
    Think it's not illegal !

  43. Michel Polnicky

    No I won't be cool
    I have the right to speech and here is a piece of my mind on this
    She went to the police how manmy times five ? and they didn't believe her Scotland Yard wake the **** up, beaten and rape at 17 years old on multiple occasion she even warn you ****** that if something was to happen to her it would be ''them'' the women in Irak have no voice so this adds insult to injury because in the UK one is supposed to have a voice but you didn't listen and because of that this young woman died at the hands of her own family and a terrible death at that, Shame on them and Shame on the autorities who in this documentary take no part of responsibility for her death, well in my eyes you have her blood on your hands the bunch of you, to the Muslim women who want out make sure that you have a circle of friends that you can trust, Banaz didn't have one she even ask the police what can you do for me...turns out they acted after her death.
    To her sister I have no words to tell you how sorry I am for your lost, please acc ept the expression od my deepest sympathies.
    To her ''father & Uncles'' may you burn in hell for all times I would be happy to stroke the fire, die slowly and in agony !

  44. qani

    @anon dont be quick to insult the religion of 2 billion people. this has nothing to do with islam. its tradition. i myself am muslim and never heard anything even close to this happened in our society.

  45. Anon

    Disgusting religion. Disgusting people. How can you do that to your own family.

  46. Starlina Jackson

    This was one of the saddest documentaries I've seen in a while. Her murder should have been prevented if people would have listened to her. This so called "honor killing" is the most insane medieval act in a culture that needs to be banished forever and ever. Her life meant something but nobody thought enough to help her when her husband was beating and raping her on a daily basis. It seems to be more shame in leaving an abusive marriage than honoring a family name.

  47. Leigh Atkins

    Islam is not even good for Muslims - what good is it at ALL then? Coz it's certainly no good for anyone else on the planet...

  48. Terri Sider

    Goodie, what a st*pid disgusting comment you made!

  49. Kat

    Very sad...again women are not being valued

  50. dan

    You cannot blame one culture's indifference to another's. Blame the people that allow this.

    The police don't get involved because there are no witnesses and when there is the same witness either recants or another family member denies the event even happened.

    Again blame the people (culture) not the police. And remember there is an expense that goes into all of this and the police only have x amount of recourses so do the math.

  51. Goodie

    Too bad if she wasn't a slut she'd probably still be alive she shulda followed her cultures rules. Sad.

  52. Francisco

    Just the begining...

  53. Tyson

    I would loose my mind if someone hurt my children.
    I hope that the law finds a new way to protect these women in the near future if not now!

  54. Anne T

    Banaz hoped that by going to the police someone would help her. I can only imagine how disappointed she must have been to have finally gotten the courage to go to the police and make her statement and then being brushed off like she was. The details she revealed were so personal; it must be sad to tell the world the details of how you have no value to your family. Its sad that she found love in Rahmat and that she had to keep it a secret. What makes it saddest of all is that its still happening. There are still people who stupidly are convinced to become a part of the problem in these deaths because its politically incorrect to say the truth about another religion or race. Its good this video was made but its not enough. She was a person who only wanted a chance to be loved and happy; if there is a life after death hopefully she will find the pace and love there that she did not find in life. Her sister was very brave to have testified in her defense - at least Banaz had one family member who loved her enough to tell the truth. Lets only she doesn't meet the same sorry end.

  55. Alliyah

    @heather This has nothing to do with religion. This is culture.

  56. DylanMajor

    yes more should get charged

  57. Heather

    This is what a Patriarchal system in the extreme does to women who are seen as nothing more than property of the men. It's what will come to other parts of the world as it spreads it's cancer via archaic and brutal religions which are bent on dominating the world.

  58. oQ

    Why wasn't the mother put in jail?

  59. TomazZzz

    Poor woman :( after all that she has been through and all that she told the police - they had no will, brains and moral obligation to help her??? AND then they feel like they are above middle eastern mentality? While letting things like this happen???
    Shame on You, decaying western civilisation! U R pale in comparison to even chimpanzees and their social structure. Yuck!

    1. Ruth

      Dear poor Banaz. May you rest forever in peace. You were such a brave young girl.

    2. Ruth

      I'm heartbroken from watching this documentary. My love goes out to Banaz beyond the grave, and to her sister, who is extraordinarily brave.