Britain holds memorial day for 'honour killing' victims

by Emma Batha | @emmabatha | Thomson Reuters Foundation
Friday, 13 July 2018 13:18 GMT

ARCHIVE PHOTO: A couple go for a walk in a fog in London, Britain November 2, 2015. REUTERS/Dylan Martinez

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There are 12 honour killings a year in Britain

LONDON, July 13 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Britain will hold a memorial day on Saturday to remember the victims of so-called honour killings.

Honour-based violence is done to punish those - usually girls and women - deemed to have brought shame on their family or community by not conforming to traditional expectations.

Infringements may include having a boyfriend, rejecting a forced marriage, interfaith relationships, seeking a divorce and behaving or dressing in a way that is considered inappropriate.

Here are some facts on honour killings and honour based violence (HBV).

- The Day of Memory is held on the birthday of Shafilea Ahmed who was murdered by her parents in 2003 when she was 17 after suffering years of abuse for becoming "too Westernised".

- There are approximately 5,000 honour killings worldwide every year, according to the United Nations.

- It has been estimated that there are 12 honour killings a year in Britain, but campaigners believe the number is higher.

- Honour killings also take place overseas after victims are told they are going on a family holiday.

- Contract killers are sometimes used.

- Other forms of HBV include emotional abuse, beatings, threats of violence, being held against your will and forced marriage.

- The number of cases of HBV recorded by police increased from 3,335 in 2014 to 5,105 in 2016.

- Police referred 200 HBV related cases (excluding forced marriage cases) to prosecutors in 2016-2017, down from 216 the previous year. There were around 90 convictions in both years.

- In Britain, HBV is predominantly associated with communities originating from the Middle East and South Asia.

- Organisations campaigning on honour violence also say abuse by families may push girls and women to suicide.

- South Asian women in Britain are up to three times more likely to commit suicide than their Caucasian counterparts.

- A helpline run by Karma Nirvana, a charity tackling HBV and forced marriage, received 12,935 contacts last year.

- Around 70 percent identified their immediate family as the perpetrator and half identified their mother.

- Men can also be victims of HBV if they are thought to have "dishonoured" a woman or are believed to be homosexual.

- Ahead of the school summer break, campaigners are advising any girl who fears she is being taken abroad for marriage to hide a teaspoon in her underwear so that it sets off airport metal detectors allowing her to inform officials away from her family.

Sources: Karma Nirvana, Iranian & Kurdish Women's Rights Organisation, Crown Prosecution Service (Reporting by Emma Batha. Editing by Claire Cozens. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, which covers humanitarian news, women's rights, trafficking, corruption and climate change. Visit to see more stories.)

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