WARWICKSHIRE Police and the county council is supporting the National Day of Remembrance for victims of ‘honour-based’ abuse and forced marriage.
The day of remembrance is today (Thursday July 14) – the birthday of 17 year old Shafilea Ahmed, who was murdered by her parents in 2003 because she refused a forced marriage.
‘Honour-based’ abuse can affect men and women across all ages and a number of cultures and communities. It is defined as a crime or incident committed to protect or defend the honour of the family.
It can take many forms, including physical, emotional, or sexual abuse, and can often be linked to instances of forced marriage.
The concept of ‘honour’ is for some communities deemed to be extremely important. To compromise a family’s ‘honour’ is to bring dishonour and shame, and this can have severe consequences.
The punishment for bringing dishonour can be emotional abuse, physical abuse, being disowned by your family and in some cases, even murder.
There are an estimated twelve ‘honour’ killings of British citizens every year, but it is widely believed that the real number is considerably higher due to a lack of access to support following the pandemic and limited international travel over the past two years.
But with international travel reopening this summer, the force is encouraging the community to report concerns if they believe someone is at risk of forced marriage or female genital mutilation (FGM).
Det Chief Insp Helen Waite stressed the importance of awareness.
She said: “Honour-based abuse can occur within all cultures and nationalities and can happen to victims of any age or sex. In most cases there may be several perpetrators from the victim’s family, and also the wider community.
“Honour-based abuse does happen in our communities in Warwickshire and culture and tradition are not an excuse.
“We would always encourage those who are, or who may be, at risk of forced marriage, ‘honour based’ abuse and harmful practices such as FGM to seek help.
“We have specially trained officers who can provide support and we also work closely with a range of partners, agencies and charities that can provide additional help.
“We are dedicated to keeping you safe and ending this abuse. You can speak to us in confidence, and we will be able to assess your situation, advise you, and refer you to support organisations. We will not tell your family that you have contacted us and we will do everything we can to prosecute those responsible.”
Warwickshire County Council (WCC) and its partners are reiterating the #YouAreNotAlone message to Warwickshire victim-survivors, and spreading the word that help and support is available.
The council and its partners work closely with agencies both locally and across the UK to ensure the perpetrators of these illegal crimes are jailed.
Coun Andy Crump, WCC’s Community Safety spokesman, said: “On this Remembrance Day we want to reiterate that there is help and support available to anyone who needs help due to a honour based crime. We have excellent links to support and guidance for anyone who is looking for help – you don’t need to suffer alone.”
Visit https://ikwro.org.uk or call 0207 920 6460 for the charity IKWRO, which offers support to Middle Eastern, North African and Afghan women and girls living in the UK who have experienced, or are at risk of all forms of ‘honour-based’ abuse.
Visit https://karmanirvana.org.uk or call 0800 5999 247 for Karma Nirvana, the national ‘honour-based’ abuse charity.
Call 0800 408 1552, visit www.refuge.org.uk/our-work/our-services/refuge-warwickshire-domestic-violence-service or email DVSW@refuge.org.uk for Warwickshire’s Domestic Violence Service, which provides advice and support to women, men and children experiencing domestic violence in the county.
Report concerns about ‘honour-based’ abuse to police on 101, or 999 in an emergency.