Campaign for day of memory for honour killing victims

Published on Tuesday, 12 August 2014 13:02
Written by Daniel Mason

A petition calling for a day of memory for the victims of honour killings has attracted more than 20,000 signatures.

It follows a campaign Cosmopolitan in partnership with the charity Karma Nirvana, which has been endorsed by senior politicians. Some 21,356 people have put their names to the petition.

A previous petition, part of the same campaign, won the support of almost 95,000 people.

It is estimated that 5,000 women across the world are killed each year for 'bringing shame' on their families, with of 12 of the victims being British. The true number is thought to be higher as many women simply disappear.

At the Girl Summit organised by the UK government on 22 July to tackle the abuse and oppression of women that is embedded in certain cultures, the campaign drew political and public attention by projecting a giant image onto the Royal Opera House.

Nick Clegg, the deputy prime minister, said: "The fact that British women and young girls are being taken abroad, forced into marriage and left alone to suffer in silence strikes fear into our hearts.

"Those that break free and try to choose a different path are often left isolated, assaulted or in the most horrific cases, murdered by their own families."

He added it was important to "help give people on the frontline, from teachers to healthcare workers, the confidence to speak out where they suspect abuse is happening and give these women a voice".

"By remembering past victims, we can show them that they are not alone, given them vital support to regain control of their lives."

Labour's shadow home secretary, Yvette Cooper, said the campaign would "do a lot to make sure people are aware of these terrible crimes" and that "too often the details of these crimes are kept behind closed doors".

There is a need for "public outcry and widespread condemnation to make it clear that we do not and never will accept honour-based violence", she added.

Cosmopolitan and Karma Nirvana have called for a day of memory to be held on 14 July, the birthday of Shafilea Ahmed, who was killed by her parents in 2003 at the age of 17 because they believed she had become too 'westernised'.

Louise Court, the editor in chief of Cosmopolitan, said: "Most of us take our freedom for granted, but for thousands of women and girls around the UK, choice is a luxury.

"When her family kills a woman, often their intention is to wipe her from history - that's exactly why we believe these women must be remembered. That's why it's so important that the cause gets the recognition it deserves."

The founder and chief executive of Karma Nirvana, Jasvinder Sanghera, said: "Thousands of women and men are being abused in the name of honour and that's why I'm calling on the home secretary, Theresa May, to speak out and commit to a day of memory for these victims.

"We need to protect and remember these brave, honourable women and dishonour this abuse."

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