Pushed off a cliff… for LOVE?

There were already difficulties in the marriage between Kashif Anwar and Fawziyah Javed when they took a ‘mini-moon’ trip to Edinburgh in September 2021. After falling down a vertical cliff from close to the top of Arthur’s Seat she died from her injuries shortly afterwards. A recent Channel 4 documentary has examined what happened before the tragic incident and the subsequent court case where Fawziyah’s husband Kashif was tried and convicted of her murder.

Arthur's Seat in Edinburgh where the tragic incident happened

Pushed off a cliff... for LOVE?

Despite learning that Kashif was found to have deliberately pushed his wife (and their unborn baby) to her death, this was not the only shocking revelation to emerge from the horrific story. The case shines a light on a number of issues in their relationship that are worth all of us reflecting on.

Why were they in a relationship anyway?

Unlike more traditional matches, Kashif and Fawziyah’s meeting was not an arranged marriage. Fawziyah had visited the shop where Kashif worked, and they subsequently made a connection and dated, and they married in December 2020. Initially things had gone well, and Fawziyah’s family had no initial reasons to doubt the suitability of the match. There was an early incident where Kashif had lost his temper with Fawziyah in the car, though apologies had been offered and accepted.

Fawziyah was already working as a solicitor and enjoying some success in her working life. In fact, having worked hard through her education and being an only child her parents were extremely proud - not just of her working achievements but her energy, character and popularity.

Moving in with the in-laws

Fawziyah’s mum explains in the documentary that following cultural norms, it was agreed that after the marriage Fawziyah would move in with Kashif’s parents and they would form a household together. She also notes ominously that because she was a working woman, she wouldn’t expect her daughter to become a domestic servant for her husband’s family. She would be working hard and earning a healthy salary as a qualified solicitor.

“Macho” masculinity and the need for control

Observing the dynamics it seems that her popularity and success had given her a level of self-confidence that was an immediate threat to her husband and new host family. Although we hear little directly from Kashif from the programme, we do hear recordings which already paint a powerful and disturbing picture.

At one point, Kashif says:

"You're being a bitch. Why the f*** are you not listening to me? You're not a man, so start behaving like a woman," 

It’s apparent that Kashif’s vision for married life and Fawziyah’s vision were radically different.

"Do I not have a say in how I want my life with you?" she pleads at one point.

The conversation descends into simple abuse, with Kashif saying:

"Who the f*** do you think you are? You're a disease in everyone's life."

We are left to wonder how much of the resentment is due to her working success, and we hear how Kashif had stolen money from his wife’s account while she slept on one occasion. Money aside, it’s clear that Kashif wasn’t looking to his wife as an equal to himself in other aspects of the relationship.

Losing control… and the consequences

It seems that by the time they travel to Edinburgh, Fawziyah has already decided that the relationship is over and she is making arrangements to go back to live with her parents so that she can raise her child in safety. Her mother frankly notes how she predicted that Kashif wouldn’t quietly crawl away and leave them alone, and she had already set up security cameras at home to record the expected fall-out.

Tragically, the cameras wouldn’t have a chance to serve the purpose that they had been installed for. Despite their reservation, the family failed in preventing the fateful trip to Scotland in September 2021. Fawziyah had after all assured her mother that she had everything handled and that it would all be ok.

Refusing to accept the end of the relationship

When they had taken a walk to the famous view point of Arthur’s Seat, it seems that Fawziyah had told Kashif that the relationship was over. There were no witnesses to what happened at the top of the cliff, though a number of people were able to speak to Fawziyah in her dying moments as she lay injured after the fall.

"Don't let Kashif near me, he pushed me." Fawziyah had told the first woman to arrive at the place she had settled after falling. 

PC Rhiannon Clutton said Ms Javed had an obvious head injury, but was still able to speak despite her extreme pain. When she asked Fawziyah what had happened, she said her response was: "He pushed me… my husband. I tried to end my relationship"

Married for LOVE… or something else?

“Why would you make someone you love feel so bad…” Fawziyah had asked Kashif in one of the recorded conversations. It’s apparent that there was a gulf in their understanding of what love is, or perhaps even why they are together.

Having grown up in the UK, Fawziyah would have her expectations shaped by the educational system and cultural factors such as film, music and television where the ideal of romantic love is alive and kicking. Being a successful professional she would also have enjoyed financial freedoms that previous generations would not have experienced. At the same time she had an Islamic heritage of which she was proud and drew many cultural references from this world. This is what underpinned her living arrangement with the in-laws that appears to her to be a heady and toxic combination. Expected to do what she was told, here was a confident young woman with her own ideas and resources.

It’s worth remembering that the expectations of experiencing love or romance in marriage is a relatively new phenomenon, albeit one that many of us take for granted today and hold close to our hearts. Until the twentieth century, marriage was generally focussed on creating a stable economic unit for the passing on of wealth through generations and the management of property.  

It seems that Fawziyah and Kashif had very different ideas about the kind of married life they wanted together. This provided a context for the tragic events that unfolded in Edinburgh in September 2021 and the destruction of so many lives as a consequence.