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Shamed: The Honour Killing That Shocked Britain – by the Sister Who Fought for Justice
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Shamed: The Honour Killing That Shocked Britain – by the Sister Who Fought for Justice

4.29  ·  Rating details ·  870 ratings  ·  84 reviews
In 1998, Sarbjit Athwal was called by her husband to attend a family meeting. It looked like just another family gathering. An attractive house in west London, a large dining room, two brothers, their mother, one wife. But the subject they were discussing was anything but ordinary. At the head of the group sat the elderly mother. She stared proudly around, smiling at her ...more
Paperback, 320 pages
Published June 20th 2013 by Virgin Books (first published June 1st 2013)
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Average rating 4.29  · 
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 ·  870 ratings  ·  84 reviews

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Start your review of Shamed: The Honour Killing That Shocked Britain – by the Sister Who Fought for Justice
Jun 26, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: world
I found the first part of the book fascinating - describing the author's upbringing in a loving but strict Sikh family, where she was strongly protected from any contamination from standard British culture. For instance she went to an ordinary school, but the moment she got home she had to take off her uniform. She wasn't allowed to go to the homes of the other school children, or allowed to invite any of them back to her house. She was brought up almost wholly within the confines of her own ...more
Jessica Fitzgerald
Jul 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely amazing. I can't imagine how Sarbjit went through all this. She is the one of the bravest people I have ever come across. She is absolutely amazing. I loved reading the book and can't imagine what it was like for her to go through all that, I'm so glad it was all worth it in the end and justice has been made. She did what she had to do even though she was risking her own life to protect someone else's name and she fought until the end. So glad I read this book it's now one of my ...more
Emma MacDonald
Jul 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Normally, I tend to go for fiction over biographies or, in this case, memoirs, but something about this book jumped out at me. I decided to buy and I'm so glad that I did. This is an incredible story, and a rare insight into such a culture. I was inspired by Sarbjit's struggle to seek justice for her sister-in-law, going against decades of indoctrination and cultural pressure to fight for what she believed in. Honour killings are often so well covered up and I found it so interesting to see how ...more
Mar 18, 2014 rated it really liked it
I wouldn't say this was an enjoyable read but it was a very interesting read. It was a clash of cultures, they lived within their Indian Sikh culture/religion in a western world where honoring your elders is everything and bringing shame upon your family should be avoided at all costs.

Surjit unfortunately brought shame on her family simply because she was fighting against the restraints of an abusive and bullying mother in law and husband. Being exposed to the western way of life was very
Cindy Tansin
This was a very interesting story with great potential. It was written quite well, but could have been told better. Two things kept this from being a really entertaining story: 1) She was a victim from start to end. I would have preferred she would have been stronger and chose to dictate her own path rather than simply going along, and 2) The story was almost entirely narrated. We were told what happened instead of sharing in the dialog and coming to our own conclusion from watching the scene. ...more
Safina Hussain
Dec 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing
There are books and then there is this book. WOW. To begin with I wasn't sure whether I was going to enjoy this, as although this topic interests me, there aren't many books that can do it justice. Sarbjit's story resonated with me in more ways than one and I hated that it came to an end, despite being glad that the evil of Bachan and Sukhdave was finally realised. There are many Sarbjit's and Surjit's living among us and I hope and pray that this book helps then to see that they don't have to ...more
Myrtle Siebert
Feb 12, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fundamentalism
This is a story I already knew a great deal about from media coverage at the time the incident happened and after during the court case. But when I mentioned having read the book many of my friends seemed unfamiliar with the issue.
I appreciated the insight to the Sikh religion, the practices and prayer, vegetarianism, the arranged marriage custom practiced, even by immigrants to Britain.
A forward written by detective Clive Driscoll who took up the case for Sarbjit and saw it to conclusion
Jul 28, 2013 rated it really liked it
Sarbjit Kaur Athwal has to be one of the bravest women I've read about. It is hard to think stories like this are truly happening everyday in some families. The ideas of honour and shame being more important than a perspn's happiness, well-being and even their lives. I guess it is easy for those of us who are raised in Western culture to judge the people who practise such different beliefs to us, but as Sarbjit mentions, when you grow up and are born into such rigid family structures, it seems ...more
I would give this a 4.5 if I could. This is a horrific story of appalling murder and awesome courage - couldn't put the book down. It's hard to believe families in a free country can still live and instill traditions of their past on their family. This was an interesting book which made me aware of different cultures within the world. Highly recommend.
This is not most smoothly written story. The flow in some sentences could have been better, for instance. How it is an engrossing read about culture, crime, and honor. Athwal is not critical of her religion (rightly) but more critical of the culture that allows for such things. Additionally, she also notes the failings of local authorities.
Savita Ramsumair

This is one of the most intriguing novels I have read. My heart surely went out to Surjit and Sarbajhit. I applaud Sarbajhit's bravery to stand up for what is right. I was brought to tears while reading.
Oct 27, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was an autobiography of the life of Sarbjit Kaur Athwal,a British-born Indian. It is a story of pain, betrayal and the on-going fear of death.
Married in her late teens, Sarbjit was despised by her mother-in-law, who at any given chance would degrade and humiliate her daughter-in-laws. Sarbjit and her sister-in-law, was subjected to violence and continuous threats, to preserve the family honour.
This is the story of a brave woman, who stood up against, her family, violence, honour and
Nov 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing
A rating of 5 out of 5 means "this book is amazing". Amazing would actually be the wrong word to describe this - it is horrifying and chilling but I am so glad that I read it. I would describe the author as totally amazing - what a journey she has been on through life and to be strong enough and brave enough to now write this book is truly inspiring. I would strongly encourage everyone to read this story.
Oct 20, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: favorites, books-2015
Oh My God! Sarbjit has shown great courage to make sure that Surjit got the justice she deserved.

It's disgusting to think that people are ready to dismiss a murderer and save the honour of a name. Sikhism isn't about that but about treating everyone as ana equal. Sarbjit has done an amazing job by bringing Bachan and Sukhdave to the sentence they deserve. It must have been so tough for her but she did it.

This book displays a courageous and brave act.
Jul 18, 2013 rated it really liked it
A riveting read and an extraordinary story. Possibly the most shocking aspect is that three times the police were notified of what was happening - or had happened, and no action was taken. You would like to think that Sarbjit's story would give strength to others in controlling and unhappy marriages.
Lizzie Uhr
Jan 28, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This book brought out so many emotions that I truly did not believe possible. What Sarbjit endured as a woman, mother, sister-in-law, wife and human is truly impossible, yet unfortunately true. This book is amazing, yet I would not use that word to describe one thing in this book except for amazingly brave. The courage she showed by telling her story is more than you could ever hope to display.
Hurriyyah Falak
Mar 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: my-ebooks
A quick read , very sad account of honour killing and the threat and fear young women live under most of their lives. The courage it takes to stand up to loved ones is very difficult but a community too ? It is even harder! These events change lives forever.
Oct 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fascinating book. Hard to believe its a biography. The authors internal struggle with religion and right vs. wrong is very powerful. The idea of shame versus honour plagues every decision the author makes.
Nancy Croth
Jun 14, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The true story of an honour killing in Britain and the sister-in-law who put her life on the line to bring justice to the victim. A true nightmare but a story of courage beyond belief!
Ririn Marina
Feb 07, 2014 rated it really liked it
seriously it's not easy when you are sandwiched between revealing the thruth and to uphold family's honour and really need courage and support, and most importantly is to overcome FEAR!!!
Jun 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Very well written and hats off to Sarbjit for her courage and sacrifices
Jun 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I thought his story was fascinating and as a strong Independant woman it's hard to read stories about women who are still dependent and suppressed by their society. I couldn't put this book down
Pavan Amara
Aug 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
This book hit a bit of a raw nerve for me, and I think it will for many Asian/Middle Eastern women and girls reading it. It's about honour violence, and it's the written product of courage - for the author to write her story, knowing the possible repercussions from the community, is a victory in itself. In addition to that, it's well-written in an engaging style, well structured, and does justice to Surjit and the fearless people who brought her killers to trial.

It's also honest, fair and
Maureen Finucane

I couldn't stop reading this book and it is a very important testimony. As a survivor of Domestic abuse back in the Dark Ages 40 years ago, I can only say that the attitude of the police was uniformly (excuse the pun), simpering, sarcastic, disbelieving, macho and even openly colluding with the perpetrator. Feminists back in the day took matters into Their own hands . Their conversion community policing" and reluctance to intervene in "ethnic community matters" has led to the horror
Aug 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2017
While this book titles itself on a fight for justice, I wouldn't say justice was really achieved in this case. Surjit's body was never found (reasonably so, since that particular river she was dumped in runs into Pakistan) and thus never given the proper rites and burial at home she deserved. The people who actually killed Surjit were also never arrested or jailed, even though the police know exactly who they were (but weren't named in the book). Sarbjit also claims that to this day, people in ...more
Jul 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Eye opening

Eye opening- living in a multicultural era and truly international city, I am familiar with the use of words like ‘honour’ and ‘shame’ to control the female species, not only in Sikhism but also Islam. ‘Sarb’ is absolutely correct in her analysis, it’s not the religion but the human behind the interpretation of the religion, the human that uses his or her religion to carry out truly evil deeds usually originating from jealousy, envy, greed or a false sense of pride. I wish this book
Sep 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Could not put this book down. Knowing very little about Sikh culture I found it fascinating when she talked about the arranged marriage, the wedding etc - it is so alien to us of a very western culture.

The book also shows how the family from all angles worked to keep her down and more importantly keep her silence. By the end you are crying out for her to go to the police and when she does and you see how difficult it was for her you are full of admiration / elation for her. Unfortunately it
When I picked up this book I assumed it was about Muslim honor killings, but was surprised to find it's actually a story about a family of Sikhs from India. The murder of the rebellious Westernized sister-in-law of the author was actually ordered by the matriarch of the family, and carried out in secret on a trip to India. It was not until seven years later that the perpetrators were found guilty of murder, only after Athwal had the courage to come forward. Thus, this crime was very different ...more
Linda L
Jun 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book should be on the shelves of every school in the country, in fact it should be a part of the National Curriculum at senior schools. How many lives would it change and save?

It's interesting to see the inside of a different culture and how difficult it must be for those who live within a strict Sikh faith within the western world. The bravery of Sarbjit in giving evidence and telling her story is just so humbling. The proof of knowing your have done the right thing in giving this evidence
Sep 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely compelling reading. A fascinating and horrifying insight into how dominant personalities can manipulate those around them into action, silence, or mistaken belief. The rising sense of horror and stress is beautifully written - even though the events of this book are years old, and the author clearly lives through the events to be able to write it, it was still hard to shake the panic and worry I had for her and her children while reading.

Everyone should read this. Thank you Sarbjit
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