A Sunday Telegraph investigation has established that honour killings are increasing rapidly in Britain.
Home Office statistics suggest that there are 12 such murders each year. However, according to research, the true figure is much higher. At a conference in Southampton last week, police chiefs revealed that they are re-examining 2,000 deaths and-murders between 1996 and 2006 to establish whether they involve honour killings. So far, 19 have now been found to be honour killings. A further 20 involved some element of “honour violence”.
The string of deaths is likely to include some that were previously deemed suicides but have been found to be forced suicides and murder disguised as suicide.
To combat the escalating crime, dedicated teams of senior prosecutors will be deployed in Britain’s honour killing hot spots this month in an effort to boost conviction rates and give victims more protection. At first, a pilot scheme involving 20 policemen will concentrate on four hot spots - London, the West Midlands, West Yorkshire and Lancashire.
Chief constables across the country will work with the Home Office and voluntary agencies to try to identify women at risk from violence from their families.
Plans to be published soon by the Association of Chief Police Officers will tell forces to follow new risk assessment models to ensure women are taken seriously if they complain of family violence.
A special unit has been created by the Foreign Office to travel around the world seeking British-born Asian women who have been forced into marriage. It operates mainly in Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Kenya and Yemen. Officials from the local British embassy or consulate co-operate with police to identify these women and, if they are clearly being held against their will, bring them home to Britain.
“The official figure of 12 [honour killings] is but the tip of a very big iceberg,” says Miss Sanghera, who has written an autobiography, Shame, based on her own family experiences of “honour” violence.
Her charity sees almost 1,000 women each year who have been threatened with death, beaten, starved, kidnapped and brutalised by their families for refusing or escaping forced marriages.
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