In Their Own Words – Modesty Becomes Her
Today, in this edition of In Their Own Words, we talk to four women who were among the victims of a series of robberies which targeted the Muslim community in our larger cities. What marked them out was the fact the man who carried out the robberies picked his targets with great care, and was not afraid to make sure anyone he visited was unable to raise the alarm, but at the same time respected their cultural norms.
In the first story, we talked to Yasmin, who lives in the Hounslow area of London. She is a second year fashion student at a London college, and lives with her parents, who own a string of local shops…
Just because I am a Muslim woman, and follow some of the tenets of my faith, does not mean I do not have to be dressed fashionably – especially as I am a fashion student. So I do so – and on the day he visited us, I was wearing an outfit I had put together. It was a long sleeved top, with a pink body, black leather side panels and long lace sleeves, and under that I was wearing a purple long sleeved top, the bottom of which came out from under my other top. I also had a studded wide black leather belt loosely hanging on my hips.
As for the lower part of my outfit, I was wearing black leather leggings, tucked into a pair of knee length purple suede boots with a stack heel. And naturally, I was wearing my hijab, a black one over a scarf in the same shade as my top.
I actually had an unexpected afternoon off, so I decided rather than work at the library I would head for home and do my research there. We live in a detached house a mile or so from Hounslow town centre, so I took the tube to Hounslow West, and then walked the rest of the way.
Honestly, when I let myself in, I had no idea of what was about to happen – the first I knew was when I walked into the front room, and there he was. I guess he was a little older than me, wearing a black leather jacket over a white shirt, dark trousers and sneakers – but he also had on black leather gloves and black sunglasses, and he was searching through a bureau where my mother keeps some things.
He must have heard my gasp, because with one smooth movement he produced a gun and pointed it at me, before he put a gloved finger to his lips to indicate I should be quiet. Well, what was I going to do – he had a gun! Looking at me, he apologised for the mess he had made, but told me he was going to rob this house – and if I did as I was told, no harm would come to me.
Something in the way he spoke made me believe him, so I slowly nodded as he asked me to pass over my mobile phone. I did this, watching as he turned it off and put it to one side. He did say he would have removed the battery, but the phone was too new, and too good to damage in that way…
It was a very strange feeling, as I looked at him. He was polite, charming – but he was an armed intruder! He looked at me, and seemed to read my mind as he said he understood what I must be feeling, and that I would be all right – if I turned slowly round, and stood with my arms by my side.
I did this, and then I sensed him walk up behind me, before my hands were taken behind my back and I felt rope going around my wrists. He was talking to me as he tied them together, apologising for the necessity of securing me. I did think at the time he was been gentle, but firm – the ropes were tight, but not uncomfortable.
That continued as I watched him pass along, doubled over length of rope around my body, and then pull it tight under my chest. This had the effect of forcing my arms to my sides, as he wound it round me several times. I did notice it was forming a band above my chest as well, but it was not uncomfortable, and he kept talking to me as he did this, keeping me calm, so that I actually started to feel safe…
He gave the ropes one more tug and then tied them off, before he invited me to walk up to my bedroom, where he was going to make sure I was comfortable, but out of the way. Well, I knew I really had no choice, so I walked in front of him, and we went into my bedroom.
Sitting on my bed, I saw he had a black holdall with him, and as he placed it on the bed next to me he asked me where I kept my jewellery. I told him where he could find it – he was going to take it anyway – and then watched as he opened the bag, and took out a length of thin white cord, before he told me to sit with my legs on the bed, and cross my ankles.
As I watched, he doubled the rope again, and he passed it round my ankles, pulling the ends through the middle and then back as they were held together. He worked quickly after that, wrapping it round just as tightly a few times more, and then separating the ends and taking them between my legs to make it even tighter. I could see the cords sinking into the soft fabric of my boots, and – well, it’s going to sound strange, but I could see a strange beauty in it…
He then asked me to forgive him, as he passed another length of cord around my legs below my knees, and tied them together there as well. He did stroke my legs as they were forced together, and I know a man is not meant to touch a woman like that, hence his request for forgiveness – and I did forgive him. In a way, he was doing a job, and this was an unfortunate consequence of that.
When he had finished, I looked down at the two bands of rope, going around and between my legs, and tried to move them – with little more than the sound of my legs rubbing together. The man looked at me, and asked where I kept my scarves. I directed him to the wardrobe, and he took out a black scarf, rolling it into a band and tying a large knot in the middle as he once again apologised, and asked me to open my mouth.
As he pushed the knot between my teeth, I could taste the cloth on my tongue, even as the knot pressed it down, and he tied the scarf band round my head, the knot sitting at the back of my neck. I tried to talk, but it was only a low mumble that came out, as he looked at me and asked if I needed help to lie down.
I shook my head and shuffled myself down the bed, lying on my aside with my head on the pillows as I watched him take my jewellery and put it into the bag. He then turned on my bedside radio, and left me in the room while he searched the rest of the house. I could hear him moving round, and I tried to find a knot as well at my wrists, but it was tied out of reach of my fingers.
So I just had to lie there, listening as he searched, and then came back in to check my binding before he left me there. It was another two hours before my mother came back and found me…
Yasmin later used her experiences as a basis for one of her course projects…
Although Muslim businesswomen are rare, they are not unheard of, and one well known one in the Newcastle area is Jamila Khan, the owner of a popular clothing store. But one day, she was about to leave for work when she had an unexpected visitor…
It was early spring, and I had a meeting with my Business Manager at the local bank to attend that morning. I was wearing a gold headscarf as a hijab, over a black scarf, and my clothing was black for business as well. It started with my black coat tunic, buttoned up the front and with lace half-sleeves from the elbow. Over this was a black sleeveless jerkin, fastened round my waist with a leather belt. The dress came to an acceptable length on me, but I also had on a pair of tight black leather trousers, the lower legs tucked into knee length, high heeled black suede boots. Business like, and also fashionable for a lady of my age and standing.
So I was ready – I picked up my handbag, collected my car keys, went to the garage – and then stepped back inside, my hands raised as I was followed by a very handsome looking young man.
He was smartly dressed, in a tailored suit, white shirt, dark tie, shoes shined – but he also had a pistol in his gloved hand, and smiled as he looked at me through dark sunglasses. He apologised for the unannounced arrival, but said he wished to conduct some business with me, and wanted to be assured nobody would interrupt us until that business had bene completed.
Now, I tend not to conduct business at home, and was about to tell him that – when I realised he was saying he was robbing me, and he was going to make sure I could not stop him. So I asked him how he intended to do that, and in replay he held up a black bag, and said he would do it with the help of what was in the bag.
Well, I could tell he was serious, as the next thing he told me to do was to keep my hand sin the air, and walk into the hallway. I did as he asked, and when he asked (or ordered, if you prefer) me to disconnect my phone, I pulled the plug from the wall socket and turned to look at him.
I admit, he was well mannered, soft spoken, and never raised his voice, but his intention was clear, as he then told me to go into my dining room. As we went in, he then ordered me to leave my handbag on the table, and carry one of the dining chairs into the front room.
Once there, he indicated I should sit down, with my hands on my head. I watched as he placed the bag on the couch nearby, and then went to close the drapes over the windows, before smiling as he walked back and put the gun down where we could both see it.
I asked what he was going to do – and he said had I not guessed yet. He then opened the bag, took out a length of white rope – and I realised his plans as he took my arms around the chair back, and started to tie my wrists tightly together. He was gentle in his actions, but knew what he was doing as I felt the rope around and between my wrists, and then tied to the centre spar of the chair back so that I really could not move them.
As he walked back round, I complimented him on his skill, and he inclined his head to acknowledge that before taking another length of rope, and kneeling at my feet. Apologising for what was about to happen, he lifted my feet and balanced them on his leg, before wrapping more rope around my ankles and securing them tightly together. I could see the cord sinking into the soft black fabric of my boots as it went around and between my legs, before he gently lowered them and secured them to the front leg of the chair.
He certainly was well mannered, and had made me sit in an – appropriate position, as he took another length of the white rope, and tied my legs together below my knees. As he did this, my legs rubbed together, the soft squeak making him smile as he remarked how like a little mouse it sounded.
I confess, that made me laugh as well while he tied the ropes off, and then stood up, retrieving a much longer length of rope from the bag. Turning my head, I watched as he secured one end where the chair back met the seat, and then wound it round me and the back, fixing me against it as it wove in and out between the slats, and around my body so my arms and chest were held firmly in place.
He even apologised as, from time to time, the back of his hand stroked over my body, but when he was finished I was very well secured, and with the way he had secured my ankles so that the tows of my boots barely touched the floor, I knew I was going nowhere.
He then sat next to me, and as he asked me questions about the house, where valuables were located, my safe, and the combination to it, I found myself answering his questions truthfully. He had kept his word and not harmed me, so I felt I was safe – yes, he was going to steal from me, but that was all I realized he was going to do…
Eventually, he thanked me, and then went back to his bag. I was surprised to see him take out a green square sponge, but as he compressed it in his gloved hand, and told me to open my mouth, I realised what it was he was going to do. But then, I really had no choice, did I? So I opened my mouth, and allowed him to push the sponge in there. I felt it expanding, filling my mouth and pressing my tongue down, as I closed my lips over it, and watched him take out a wide roll of white tape.
Tape he then proceeded to wrap tightly round my head, covering my mouth as he did so, the tape making a squishy noise as it came off the roll and onto my head. I was glad of the scarf, which at least protected my hair, but when he had finished and asked if I was uncomfortable, I could barely make a sound, settling instead for shaking my head to show I was all right.
He nodded and then left me in the room, taking his bag with him as I was alone with my thoughts and my prayers. I could hear him as he moved about, and searched, and I imagined removed my valuables as well as some jewels and money I had in my safe.
When he returned, he checked all the ropes were still tightly knotted. He had nothing to fear on that score – I had accepted what was happening, and relaxed, but it showed he actually was concerned about me. He then made a deep bow, wished me a good day, and left me alone.
It was about an hour after that when my assistant found me – the bank had notified them I had missed my meeting, and she had come to see if I was at home, ill. Well, I was certainly at home…
There were also reports of times when this particular robber surprised families at home – some of which we may relate in a future episode – but for today, we tell the tale of Fawzia, a mother of a one year old boy who met the robber one Saturday afternoon…
I had taken little Mo to a group at the mosque for young mothers, and I always like to look my best when I go there. That particular day, I had a black turban over my hair, and I was wearing a black leather pinafore dress over a lone sleeved top, leggings and knee length black leather boots. The only thing I was wearing which was not red – apart from my necklace of beads – was my gold Rolex watch, and my red leather jacket.
Anyway – meeting went well, and I drove home with Mo, intending to give him a lunchtime feed, change him and get him down for a sleep, and then eat myself. The afternoon, however, took a very different turn when I went into our house, on the outskirts of Preston.
When I put the changing bag down on the floor, I could feel a breeze from the kitchen, but I figured I had just left a window open as I carried Mo into the front room – and there he was. He was a little taller than me, wearing a black jumper, pants and sneakers – and gloves, and sunglasses, as he looked at me and smiled while he pointed a very real gun at me.
I was frozen with fear, but then he spoke – softly, calmly, but with the tone of an imam, as he said he was here to rob me, but so long as I did as he said, then no harm would come to me. I just stared at him as Mo started to cry, and I managed to blurt out I needed to give him a bottle.
The man then did the most unexpected thing – he asked me if I was going to raise the alarm, and when he shook his head he put the gun down, and took Mo in his arms, before he said we should go and prepare his bottle in the kitchen.
I mean – he was obviously an intruder, he was going to rob me, but he was letting me feed my son? That floored me, but we went into the kitchen, and as he tickled Mo’s chin I made up a bottle of milk for him.
He then suggested I take my jacket off – which I did before I hung it over the back of a chair – and then we walked back into the front room. He told me to sit down, and get comfortable – which I did, and then he handed me back Mo, watching as I cradled him in my arms and then started to give him the milk.
I watched my son as he started the feed, not really paying attention to what the young intruder was doing, but then I felt my ankles been drawn together, and as I looked down I saw him kneeling at my feet, and wrapping a length of white cord around them to secure them together. It was the strangest of situations – I was feeding Mo, who was enjoying the feed, and at the same time an intruder was tying my ankles together, making it almost impossible for me to get up and raise the alarm.
I wasn’t sure I wanted to, or he would allow me to do that anyway, as he stood up, took a second length of rope from a bag on the coffee table, and then knelt again as he started to bind my legs together below my knees. When he had finished, he apologise for the necessity of doing that – but I was so focused on Mo, I merely nodded.
There was another problem, however, when I had finished giving him the feed, and put him over my shoulder to wind him – I could tell his nappy needed changing, and with my legs tied like that?
The young man could see the difficulty, however, and walked out to the hallway, returning with my changing bag which he placed on the floor. I watched as he took the necessary items out, and then took Mo from me, talking to him and tickling him as he proceeded to remove his pants, and change his nappy.
And he did it as a seasoned changer – which makes me wonder if he had a younger family as well? I could only watch as he wiped Mo’s bottom, put talc on, a clean nappy, put his clothes back on him, and then handed him back to me as he giggled and waved his arms about.
He even put the dirty nappy in a bag, and took it to the kitchen – and before you ask why I did not call the police then, my handbag was in the hallway as well. In fact, he came back in with it, taking my mobile phone out and switching it off before he took the cash from my purse and put it in his bag.
He then looked at me, and said he was going to have to make sure /I stayed quiet for a little while, because he was going to have to go upstairs and take my valuables. That was understandable – yes, I did say that – so I watched as he took a white cloth from his bag, folded it and told me to open my mouth.
Mo watched as he pushed the sloth in – it tasted a little of floral fabric conditioner as it sat on my tongue, but it was doing the job of keeping me quiet in part. The other part came when he took a roll of white tape from the bag, tore off a long strip, and the pressed it firmly over my mouth and face, the fabric forming to the contours. I could feel it pulling slightly on my skin, but he took a small mirror and allowed me to see myself, the shape of my lips clearly visible underneath as Mo gurgled.
I may not have been able to speak, but I could hum as I sat there, unable to get up with my legs tied, and gently rocked my son in my arms as I hummed a lullaby. I knew very well that the intruder was in my rooms, taking my valuables, but I was a mother, and my son had to be my focus…
When he came back, Mo was fast asleep in my arms, so he went back to the hallway and brought the car seat in. Taking him from me, he sat him in the seat, and strapped him in, before he went to the bag, taking more rope out as he asked me to lean forward, and put my hands behind my back. He asked so nicely, I found myself doing that, and looking at Mo as he bound my wrists tightly together behind my back.
He then tied my arms to my sides with two bands of rope, holding them firmly in place before he tied two smaller lengths between my arms and body to make it tighter. Now all I could do was wriggle round, the ropes on my boots and dress squeaking, as he collected his things, and waved at Mo before he left the house.
Thirty minutes later, my husband came running in, saying he had been called at work to say his front door was open, and the car was outside. The intruder must have let him know…
For our final tale today, we talked to Omaira, a twenty two year old student in Durham, who was visited by the young man in her college rooms…
I’m in my final year of my law degree, and I like to dress in a way that reflects my name – it means Red, and on the day I met him, I was dressed to match that. My hijab was burgundy red, as was the long sleeved smock top, the leatherette leggings, and the knee length Seventies style stack soled and heeled leather boots. The only thing which was not that colour was the top I had over my smock – that was dusky pink, with sleeves that were gathered slightly at the cuff, and held by two ties at my shoulders, with my smock clearly visible.
IT must have been just before the Easter holidays, as I made my way back to my rooms – only to find him sitting in a seat as I went in. He was wearing a black hooded top, jeans and shoes – but as he pointed the gun at me with his gloved hand, and told me to close the door, I realised he was a real intruder.
At first, I feared what his intentions were, but I think he sensed that fear, as he told me all he wanted was my money and valuables. He then looked at the clock, and said the most unexpected thing.
He said he realised the time, and before he began, would I like to perform my prayers?
That had to be the last thing I expected him to say, but I nodded as he stood up and to the side of the room, allowing me to get my prayer mat out, put it in the right position, and kneel down. Before I started, however, he asked me to give him my handbag, which I did before I started.
I was dimly aware of him taking my mobile phone out, but my focus was on what I was required to do, so I tried to ignore the fact an armed intruder was in my room and began my prayers…
When I had finished, and was kneeling, he told me to put my hands behind my back, which I did as I heard him kneel behind me – and then I felt the thin rope as he tied my wrists tightly together, the cords going around and between my arms before he secured the ends. When he had finished, I tried to find the knot or any ends left over, but they were well out of reach of my manicured fingers.
I then saw a long band of rope as it was passed over my upper body, before it was pulled tight under my chest, forcing my arms to my sides and my chest out as he wound it around above and below. I was starting to get frightened about what he could do again, but he spoke, softly and calmly, assuring me if I cooperated then I would not be harmed.
I could feel the bands been pulled together behind me, before I felt him feed the rope under one arm, then pull it through before he took it round the back of my neck, and then under the other arm. That made the binding even tighter, as he tied it off behind me, and then helped me to stand up before I walked over to my bed.
As I walked past my full length mirror, I caught a look at myself, the ropes framing and forcing my chest out and the white against the pink and red. I smiled – and then he asked if I liked what I could see.
The strange thing was, it was good to look at, and I wasn’t scared. If anything, I was excited, and it just felt so good to be like that… That was something I had never expected to happen, as I sat down on my bed, watching with interest as he crossed and bound my ankles tightly together, the rope rubbing on my leather boots as it was pulled tighter with each pass.
He then took the rope between my legs as well, before tying the ends off, and fetching a further length. As he started to tie my legs together below my knees, I thought of what an old school friend of mine had told me when we met over Christmas, about some of her adventures.
I was beginning to realise something of what Leila had meant, as he bound my legs together trying not to react as he stroked the back of my legs – but when he was done, I was very tightly bound, unable to move, the only sound the squeak as my legs rubbed together.
He then went back to the bag, and took a roll of duct tape and a small scarf. I guessed what was coming next. I opened my mouth and allowed him to push the scarf in, then closed my lips as he tore off three strips of the tape, and pressed them one by one over my mouth, leaving me only able to really mumble.
He then told me to lie down, and roll onto my stomach – something I managed to do, as I actually realised the ropes were tighter when I did that. Looking over my shoulder, I watched as he pulled my ankles back, and tied them to my chest ropes, then I rolled over onto my side and watched as he searched my rooms, and removed all of my jewellery, putting in into this bag before he left me to struggle.
And yes, I admit it – also I enjoyed been left helpless, unable to call for help, as the sun set through my windows. It was a good two hours before a porter walked back, saw my room doors were ajar, and came in to see if everything was all right.
Well, it was all right, but you know what I mean… My parents were upset, but the insurance covered everything, and I discovered something about myself.
Something profound, and now I have joined a society where I and others like me can enjoy been bound and gagged safely…
This had been In Their Own Words – join us again next time…