Bernard Dineen: Honour killings that bring shame on Britain

HERE is a tragic forecast for the year ahead. The "honour killings" of Asian girls and women in Britain will increase. But such killings are only the tip of an iceberg of brutality: murders, rapes and assaults on women who dare to break strict religious and cultural rules.

The number is doubling every year, with police estimating that up to two violent "honour crimes" are committed every day, usually at the hands of family members.

The rise of fundamentalism is believed to be the reason why such crimes are increasing. One of the few Asian women who courageously run refugees and women's rights organisations estimates that there are at least 500 "honour crimes" ever year.

If the victims were white, she says, there would be a national outcry, but the politicians run for cover when the subject is raised. Labour MPs in the inner cities are largely silent – including the dozens of women MPs foisted on Parliament by all-women shortlists – who are prepared to prattle endlessly about any subject except this.

One shining example of courage, sadly leaving Parliament, is Ann Cryer, MP for Keighley, who has been a brave campaigner to raise awareness of honour crimes. She says it is a struggle to get the issue into the open because, instead of looking after the human rights of vulnerable young women, you get accused of "doing down the Asian community".

The level of brutality is terrifying. Here is just one case, a 25-year-old Muslim graduate working as a recruitment consultant. She refused to marry a man she had never met, chosen by her family, and threatened to leave home.

Her brother and cousin held her down, stabbed her 17 times, cut her throat, and then forced her two sisters, aged two and four, to watch her die. Many of these murders are planned in advance by members of the victim's family. In another case, a Muslim woman who threatened to leave the husband chosen for her was strangled by her brother while her mother held her legs.

But concentration on such horrific crimes should not divert us from the enormous reservoir of unreported and unknown intimidation. Neither is there any record of the number of women taken to Pakistan and Bangladesh and killed there. Often with the co-operation of local police.

One study says that honour killings, domestic violence and forced marriage are not isolated practices but part of a social system built on ideas of honour, and cultural, ethnic and religious superiority that exists outside everyday life in Britain.

As a result, women are being threatened with physical violence, rape, death, mutilation, abductions, drugging, false imprisonment, withdrawal from education, and forced marriage by their own families. Neither is it just a case of first-generation immigrants bringing practices from "back home" to the UK. It is being carried out by third and fourth generation immigrants, raised and educated in the UK.

What distinguishes it from incidents of domestic violence in the wider community is that it involves a woman's own parents, sons, brothers and sisters as well as members of their extended family and in-laws.

The Asian women running refuges for threatened women run serious risks. Tracking down runaways is a well-established business, with Asian police officers and taxi drivers often involved. There is also widespread ignorance that plays into the hands of the pursuers. In a much-publicised case last year, the police repeatedly advised the victim to return home and disclosed her location to her family. But there are signs that some police forces are now better informed. West Yorkshire is one.

Labour MPs – and the Left in general – who have been so enthusiastic about encouraging immigration from the Third World have a lot to answer for.

ADVOCATING sympathy for lawyers is not an easy task, but they have a strong case in the face of sloppy legislation dumped on them by the Labour Government.

Protecting vulnerable people suffering from mental health problems is hampered by politicians who see the law as just a means of grabbing headlines.

The Mental Health Manual, by which mental health lawyers operate, has protested about the "complex, voluminous, badly-drafted, bureaucratic procedure which is a recipe for confusion".

The same goes for the law in general. Archibald, the criminal law text, has denounced the Labour Government's practice of legislating by trial and error, which shows no sign of abating, even in its 13th year in office.

It says the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008 is a "hotchpotch of measures", much of

it an attempt to undo earlier legislation.

One lawyer recommends an ancient Greek proposal whereby anyone wanting a new law must stand in the assembly with a cord around his

neck. If the law was rejected, the innovator was instantly strangled. This would work wonders in the House of Commons.