On Wednesday before Christmas, Britain’s Court of Appeal ruled that a baby at risk of becoming the victim of an “honour killing” must be adopted to keep her safe. The baby was the result of her unmarried Muslim mother’s secret affair with a married man and now had to be adopted to save it from being murdered by her mother’s family.
The child was conceived in 2009; when the mother found out she was pregnant, she was terrified of her family’s reaction and, with the help of sympathetic relatives, hid her pregnancy from most male family members and gave birth in a hospital far away from her home. When she returned home, she left the baby with adoptive Muslim parents. When the father found out about the pregnancy and the baby, however, he began proceedings to win custody. A High Court ruled, though, that the risk of retribution was too great and, in light of the danger that the mother’s family would kill the baby and her, the baby should stay with its adoptive parents. The Court of Appeal essentially confirmed this decision and regarded the risk of physical harm to the baby and its mother as being of major importance. The judges ruled that the desire amongst the mother’s relatives to preserve the family’s honour was simply too dangerous; therefore, the child has to be brought up by Muslim foster parents.