Call for action on ‘honour’ crimes in families

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ALMOST 100,000 people are supporting a Yorkshire charity’s call for a national day to remember victims of so-called ‘honour’ violence within Asian communities.

Over 96,000 people have signed a petition which calls on Prime Minister David Cameron and Home Secretary Theresa May to mark a day of remembrance for the victims of such crimes.

The calls for a day of remembrance are being led by Jasvinder Sanghera, the founder of Karma Nirvana, which is based in Leeds.

She said: “As the founder of Karma Nirvana, an organisation that speaks out and supports those who have experienced honour-based violence in the UK, I have seen the true horror of being perceived to have brought ‘shame’ on my family. Thousands of women and men are currently being beaten, abused and raped in the name of honour – for some, on a daily basis.”

Miss Sanghera cited the case of Bradford-born Shafilea Ahmed, who was 17 when she was murdered in 2003 by her ultra-conservative Pakistani parents after she tried to resist their pressure to marry a cousin in his late 20s.

“The story of Shafilea Ahmed should have been a wake-up call for us all to act,” says Miss Sanghera.

“Shafilea was brutally murdered by both her parents in 2003 in the presence of her siblings because she was deemed to have become too ‘westernised’.

“Shafilea was regularly abused and then murdered for being a ‘normal teenager’ and embracing all that Britain stands for - freedom, independence, democracy and the right to choose whom she wished to marry.”

Her parents, of Warrington, were initially arrested after her death but it took nine years for them to be found guilty and sentenced for killing their bright and rebellious daughter, whose body was found dumped in a river in Cumbria.

Over 96,000 people have called on the Prime Minister to mark a day of remembrance for victims like Shafilea who, says Miss Sanghera, “are essentially erased from history by their families.”

“That’s why I am calling on the Home Secretary to speak out and commit to a day of memory for these victims.

“Theresa May MP leads the way to ending all violence against women and girls – we need her support. We need to protect and remember these brave, honourable women and dishonour this abuse.

“Between 2008 and 2013, Karma Nirvana’s helpline received over 30,000 calls in the UK alone.

“Today we deal with over 750 calls a month – all with an experience of honour-related abuse.

“This remains the ‘tip of the iceberg’ and a lack of awareness by professionals can and does increase the risk. A day of memory will not only raise awareness but leave a lasting legacy.

“Please join me in seeking the support of government and achieving a day of remembrance for the victims I see every day, victims like Shafilea Ahmed.”

Anyone seeking help should contact www.karmanirvana.org.uk

Or call 0800 5999 247.