‘Honour’-killing in the UK
DESPITE the blanket coverage the London Olympics has been receiving, the British media devoted considerable time and space to the tragic story of Shafilea Ahmed. When the 17-year old girl’s parents were sentenced to life imprisonment for her murder nine years ago, there was a degree of satisfaction that the killers had finally been brought to justice.
Over the years, there has been much soul-searching over the entirely alien concept of ‘honour-killing’ brought here by certain groups of migrants. Although political correctness still blocks a full and open debate, a few high profile cases have forced this barbaric practice out into the open.
The police in the UK are now more receptive to calls for help, and more cases of ‘honour’-related violence are being prosecuted. Last year, 234 cases were taken to court, and half of them resulted in a ‘guilty’ verdict. In this period, all 39 police forces in the country reported nearly 3,000 cases. Clearly, these numbers do not represent the full extent of these vicious crimes as many children remain silent in the face of abuse from parents and other older relatives.
Sara Khan, the director of Inspire, a women’s human rights organisation, writes in the Guardian:
"Over the past two decades I have heard countless stories from women who were ostracised by their communities and let down by the agencies who should have helped them. One young woman, Laila, had been emotionally blackmailed into a marriage at the age of 18. Forced to live with her in-laws in a house with seven others, she spent her life cooking and cleaning. They didn’t even allow her access to the toilet and she was forced to use a jug in her bedroom, even during labour. ‘I was treated like a slave to the rest of the family’, she told me…” (...)