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The two-part series recounts the police investigation behind the “honour” killing of Ms Mahmod, which led to father, uncle and cousins being convicted for her murder. The 20-year-old Iraqi Kurdish woman was horrifically tortured and raped for two hours before she was strangled to death in 2006. She had reported threats from her family five times to the police before she was killed. DCI Caroline Goode, played by Keeley Hawes in the ITV drama, vowed to bring her murderers to justice. She tracked down the remains of Ms Mahmod’s body to a garden 130 miles away from her London home, in Handsworth, West Midlands. From there, she was able to bring many of the suspects connected to the killing before the courts – in a joint effort between police, those in the Kurdish community and family members of the victim.
‘Honour’ was written by Gwyneth Hughes, who consulted Ms Mahmod’s sister Bekhal during six years of research and production of the show – which airs its finale tonight.
The sister was moved into witness protection, where she was given a new identity, after she helped police to prosecute seven men connected to the murder.
Ms Hughes revealed that she did not “have her number”, didn’t “know her [new] name” and had to wait for Bekhal to call her during the process.
She said: “I always kept a notebook by the phone in case she suddenly rang.”
After the production was completed, Bekhal admitted that she was surprised by Ms Hughes’ ability to produce such an accurate portrayal of his sister’s tragic story.
In a Guardian article this month, she said: “I explained to her some things about that time she might not have been aware of.
“This is the truth. It’s amazing how she has done it. I actually didn’t think that she would relay word for word how I explained things to her, but she has.”
Bekhal, who was sent an advance copy of the TV drama, found it “very, very emotional” to watch and admitted the show “brought it all back”.
She continued: “It shows how the police found the Iraqi Kurdish community – it’s such a tight-knit community, so hush-hush and secretive.
“I hope that by shining a light on this issue, it might prevent what happened to Banaz from happening again.”
Despite the positive review from Ms Mahmod’s sister, ‘Honour’ attracted some controversy because it was told from the perspective DCI Goode – which some claimed had perpetrated a “white saviour” trope.
The term refers to white individuals committing a positive act for non-white people in a self-serving nature.
Last year Ed Sheeran and Stacey Dooley were accused of having a “white saviour complex” in pictures they shared online of themselves with African children.
Some felt their decision to feature the children reduced them to “accessories” of their philanthropy and demeaned their charitable work.
In response to similar accusations on the ITV show, Nazir Afzal, the former chief crown prosecutor who worked on Ms Mahmod’s case, disputed those beliefs.
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He said: “The idea that it’s a ‘white saviour’ story is ludicrous. I cannot belittle the work of Caroline Goode and her team.
“They were fighting internally in the Met police to get this case taken seriously. You’re not normally fighting to persuade the police to investigate a homicide.
“So you cannot exaggerate the efforts of Caroline and her team. The story is told from the point of view of someone who was a pivotal figure in ensuring justice was done.”
Bekhal agreed that the decision to feature DCI Goode as the lead was correct as it showed “how much the police team had to push in order to bring everyone to justice”.
Ms Hughes claimed that she tried to write the drama from a “dual point of view” – of the “amazing Kurds, principally Banaz’s sister” and those who “brought the murderers to justice”.
She defended her decision and stated that if it was told from Ms Mahmod’s perspective “it could only end in a horrible sordid murder”, which she “didn’t want to do”.
She added: “ITV is a commercial network – they want people to watch. Bekhal lost her sister, she wants people to watch.
“The point about Keeley Hawes, apart from being a great actress, is that she is a star who brings an audience.
“You want as many to watch as possible. Our aim in the drama is to say: this must never happen again, Banaz didn’t die in vain.”
The second installment of ‘Honour’ airs tonight at 9pm on ITV1.
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