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Cultural fears hinder war on ‘honour’ killing, says film-maker

Political correctness is hampering the fight against so-called honour-based violence in Britain, a campaigner has warned.

Deeyah Khan, whose documentary about the victim of an “honour” killing from London recently won an Emmy, called for the police to set up a specialist unit to deal with the problem.

The UK-based film-maker, whose parents are from Pakistan and Afghanistan, said there were police departments dealing with witchcraft and gang violence, but none dedicated to investigating “honour” violence.

Speaking at an international conference on women’s rights in London, Ms Khan compared it with organised crime. She said it needed specialist policing because there were multiple perpetrators.

“The victims have to be protected in a certain way. They are at risk from their entire communities,” she said. “There are aunties and cab drivers and even people in dole offices looking out for the women. There are bounty hunters and hitmen who don’t even take money to kill them, they do it because they see it as a necessity.”

Ms Khan’s film Banaz: A Love Story documented the case of Banaz Mahmod, an Iraqi Kurd from Mitcham who was murdered by her family in 2006, and her body buried in a suitcase in Handsworth, Birmingham. The film won an Emmy for best international documentary in October. She said: “It is awful that these crimes happen anywhere, but the fact it is happening here in the UK is unacceptable.” She added that people were afraid to get involved because of political correctness and a sense that “we don’t want to step on the toes of communities”.

She said: “But if the outcome is our young people die or suffer,  what good is that kind of politeness? Our silence allows this to happen.”

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