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National Lottery-funded UK charities unite to mark Day of Memory for victims of Honour-Based Abuse

Leading charities across the UK that support survivors of honour-based violence and abuse are calling on victims to spot the signs and report the crime.

In the lead up to the Day of Memory for victims of Honour Based Abuse (July 14), National Lottery-funded charities throughout the UK are calling for increased visibility, reporting and understanding of HBA, to ensure survivors get the right support they need.

The National Lottery-backed campaign also coincides with the launch of a book, ‘No Safe Place’, co-written by award-winning author, and Head of Policy and Research at Southall Black Sisters, Dr Hannana Siddiqui. Dr Siddiqui wrote the book in collaboration with Bekhal Mahmod, whose sister, Banaz Mahmod, was murdered in a so-called ‘honour killing.’

The book, which comes out on July 12th, recounts the extraordinary and horrific true story of Banaz’s murder at the hands of her father, uncle and male cousins, and the subsequent court case, at which Bekhal gave evidence against her family members.

National Lottery-funded charities and organisations throughout the UK are taking part in the call to action today. These include Southall Black Sisters in West London, the organisation which supported Bekhal Mahmod following the tragic murder of her sister; Glasgow-based charity, Community Infosource, which sees men working in partnership with men to tackle issues, supporting them to change their attitudes and practices; Welsh charity BAWSO, which supports ethnic minorities affected by violence and exploitation; and Savera UK, a charity which has supported hundreds of clients with their one-to-one services covering Merseyside and Cheshire, as well as reaching thousands more through their national helpline.

Award-winning journalist and broadcaster, Samira Ahmed, has also lent her voice, encouraging a more open dialogue around the issue of HBA.

She said: “Throughout my career, I have always had a special interest and concern in violence against women, particularly honour-based violence against women. Honour-based violence has always been there, but we did not always call it honour-based violence. The word ‘honour’ is controversial – some people feel it should not ever be used in the context of violence against women – but it struck me that the problem was never going away, that there were always accusations of racism if people tried to talk about it, and women were being silenced.”

Mrs Ahmed acknowledged HBA continues to be underreported and underacknowledged by the wider public, partly due to these difficulties associated with labelling and discussing it.

She added: “I’ve been really struck when I’ve gone into some communities, and spent time talking to people, police, social workers, women’s groups, about how much pressure there is to not talk about honour-based violence, because somehow it tars a whole community and that it suits racists to talk about it.

“That’s been the real challenge as a journalist: finding that balance between being scrupulously fair and not feeding racism, but also just calling a crime a crime.”

There is no specific offence of ‘honour’-based violence. However, the Crown Prosecution Service describes ‘honour’-based violence as an incident or crime “which has, or may have, been committed to protect or defend the ‘honour’ of the family and or the community.”

‘Honour’ can be the motivation, excuse, or justification behind a range of violent acts against women and girls, sometimes resulting in so-called ‘honour killings.

HBA can take many forms, including child marriage, virginity testing, enforced abortion, forced marriage, female genital mutilation, as well as physical, sexual, and economic abuse and coercive control.

HBA is widely misunderstood and underreported, meaning that hundreds of victims are not being helped and perpetrators are escaping justice.

Yasmin Khan, founder of National Lottery-funded charity, the Halo Project, believes the COVID-19 pandemic has led to a surge in survivors coming forward after two years of being unable to seek help.

Her charity has identified huge gaps in the reporting and understanding of HBA, which Khan says is even more prevalent than official figures suggest: the Home Office has only started collecting data from police forces on HBA offences since April 2019.

Khan said: “We are seeing a tsunami of victims coming forward who have been extremely traumatised.

“This pandemic has exposed such inequalities and gaps in services, and a lot of staff are burnt out.”

The Halo Project’s long-term aim is to build a ‘zero-tolerance’ approach to honour-based abuse and ‘eradicate’ gender-based violence.

Khan said that funding from the National Lottery has enabled the Halo Project to develop its services further.

National Lottery players raise more than £30million a week for good causes, making projects such as these possible. Find out how your numbers make amazing happen at:

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Home Office stats on honour-based abuse doesn’t reflect true numbers says charity

Statistics from the Home Office show that West Yorkshire has one of the highest rates of honour-based abuse in the country, but campaigners say that the number is a “huge underestimation”.

By Shawna Healey

Statistics from the Home Office show that West Yorkshire is tied with having the second greatest number of reported incidents of honour-based abuse (HBA) in England and Wales.

HBA is a form of gender-based violence that encompasses multiple patterns of behaviours and incidents including sexual assault, female genital mutilation, forced or child marriage, and murder – known as ‘honour’ killings, which take the lives of 12-15 women a year in the UK.

The police and the Crown Prosecution Service defines HBA as an incident or crime involving violence, threats of violence, intimidation, coercion, or abuse – including psychological, physical, sexual, financial, or emotional abuse – which has or may have been committed to protect or defend the honour of an individual, family or community for alleged or perceived breaches of the family or community’s code of behaviour.”

Between 2020 and 2021, West Yorkshire Police had 203 reported incidents of HBA or nine reported incidents of HBA per 100,000 people, the same as the West Midlands and Bedfordshire. This is compared with Greater Manchester Police, which has the highest HBA rate of police force area, with twelve per 100,000.

Rates of HBA vary across Yorkshire, with the Humberside and North Yorkshire having the lowest rates out of England and Wales, with just one case reported per 100,000. In South Yorkshire, the rate is four per 100,000.

However, charities working with victims of HBA, who are most often women from the South Asian community says that the statistics are a “huge underestimation and fails to consider how some perpetrators will go to great lengths to protect their honour.”

Yasmin Khan, Director of the Halo Project, a charity supporting Black, Asian, and minoritized victims and survivors of domestic abuse, sexual violence and hidden harms including honour-based abuse, said: “HBA is especially prevalent among South Asian communities, where female victims face a higher risk of poor mental health and are three times more likely to commit suicide than female white British victims and seventeen times more likely than male South Asian victims.

“Victims are often discouraged in disclosing abuse from a young age because it brings ‘shame’ and ‘dishonour’ to the family – and many face additional barriers, such as language, insecure immigration status and past negative experiences with frontline services such as the police.”

One woman who suffered HBA and found help through The Halo Project is Madiha. Madiha arrived in the UK from Pakistan a decade ago and started to receive HBA after not being able to fall pregnant.

The abuse got so bad that she ended up in the hospital. It was here that she was suggested to 101 – the non-emergency crime hotline. She was told that she must report the crime herself, which in turn would allow a police officer to visit her take a statement.

Not speaking any English, she was unable to do this until a helpful NHS worker contacted The Halo Project who was then able to advocate on her behalf.

The charity worker helped Madiha work with a police officer who was specially trained in HBA to receive appropriate care.

Madiha safely moved from the hospital to an appropriate refuge and was able to remove her belongings from the family home. She was given constant emotional support as well as counselling and group activities to keep her confidence and morale levels up after leaving a traumatic situation.

One of the reasons why incidents of HBA is underreported is because “police forces haven’t got the understanding or fail to consider the additional barriers that victims from Black, Asian, or minoritized communities face, meaning they may drop the case or file it as a separate offence such as domestic abuse,” says Ms Khan.

She added: “This misreporting then causes HBA to not appear prevalent from a statistical point of view, meaning it is then not afforded the priority it needs in terms of attention, funding, and awareness, which results in the inadequate provision, a lack of safeguarding and a heightened risk to the lives of women.”

To change the way HBA is recorded and dealt with in society, the director of the Halo Project said: “We must change the monolithic approach to violence against women and girls and consider the complexities for all victims.

“Specialist training should be compulsory for all frontline professionals, a national strategy is needed to ensure all crimes of this type are recorded, and more funding must be allocated to services that understand and specialise in these cases.

“We must invest in the complexities of domestic abuse in all its forms because too many victims are suffering unnecessarily.

“The responsibility is on all of us to spot the signs of honour-based abuse, signpost survivors, and support specialist services.”

Detective Chief Inspector Allan Raw, of West Yorkshire Police’s Safeguarding Central Governance Unit, said: “There is no honour in any form of abuse. We take a victim-led approach to deal with these challenging issues which respects the views of victims and witnesses, provides the necessary support, confidentiality and protection from harm.

“Specialist officers located in the Force’s district Safeguarding Units or Domestic Abuse Teams are responsible for ensuring the safety of those who report concerns about themselves directly or who are otherwise brought to our attention as being potential victims, ensuring that all crimes are fully investigated and prosecuted wherever possible.

“However, we acknowledge that it is often difficult for victims as they do not want to prosecute their family, so our primary aim is to make sure the victim has the necessary support and above all, is safe.  Some police interventions in respect of honour-based abuse are preventative in nature and our response is always to work with partner agencies to safeguard that person from coming to harm, for example, by considering Forced Marriage Prevention Orders.

“We know that this is a hidden and under-reported crime and it is testament to the work that is being done to raise awareness and encourage reporting that we have seen more victims coming forward.

“West Yorkshire Police has invested in further awareness training for officers and staff to ensure that we are able to recognise honour-based abuse at the earliest opportunity and to ensure that we provide an effective response.

“If you have been a victim of honour-based abuse or have concerns for someone you know then we would urge you to please make contact with the police. Officers within our specialist safeguarding units understand the sensitive nature of these offences, and have access to interpreters where they are needed.”

If you need help or more information about honour-based violence or suspect somebody is a victim of HBA, please contact the following charities:

  • The Halo Project: Phone 01642 683 045 or email Their live chat is open from Monday to Friday 8am – 10am and 6pm – 9pm and Saturday and Sunday 10am – 2pm.
  • Karma Nirvana: Open from 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday. Phone 0800 5999 247.
  • Refuge: Domestic abuse hotline is open 24 hours on 0808 2000 247.
  • True Honour on 07480 621711.

Mayra Zulfiquar, a UK resident of Pakistani origin, found dead in Lahore ‘after refusing to marry a man’

Police in the Pakistan city of Lahore are hunting for two men over the murder of a UK resident they had each reportedly been pressurising to marry them.

The suspects are being hunted as a close friend of Mayra Zulfiquar has told Sky News how the victim’s parents are struggling to come to terms with their daughter’s death.

Ms Zulfiquar, a 24-year-old law graduate of Pakistani origin who is a Belgian national, was found dead with bullet wounds in her rented flat after four men, including the two chief suspects, were believed to have broken in early on Monday.

Sky correspondent Mark White has said Ms Zulfiquar was buried in a funeral service in Lahore this morning in accordance with Islamic tradition.

Her parents flew out to the city from Feltham, in west London, to attend the service.

Their daughter had travelled to Pakistan for a wedding two months ago and had decided to stay, the English-language newspaper Dawn has reported.

Police have detained two men for questioning over the death as they hunt for another two suspects.

Punjab police superintendent Sidra Khan, citing an initial post-mortem report, told Dawn that Ms Zulfiquar had two bullet wounds – one to her neck and another to her arm – and had bled to death.

Bruises were found on her right hand and left foot.

Police said they have opened a first information report (FIR) on the case after receiving a complaint from Ms Zulfiquar’s uncle, Lahore resident Mohammad Nazeer.

The FIR said Mr Nazeer found his niece’s body after receiving a phone call from her father in London to say she had been killed.

Muslim parents who murdered their teenage daughter in an ‘honour killing’ because she was having sex with a man they disapproved of are jailed for life in Germany

Muslim mother and father who murdered their own daughter for bringing ‘shame’ on the family because she had sex with a man they did not approve of have been caged for life in Germany.

The so-called ‘honour killing’ of Lareeb Khan, 19, was carried out by her father Azadullah, 52, who crept into her bedroom at night and strangled her while her mother Shazia, 42, looked on.

The killing was triggered because they learned she had tried to steal condoms for her illicit sex sessions with her lover. Both then disposed of the body of the ‘bright and talented’ youngster whose only crime was to fall in love with a 23-year-old man called Raheel they disapproved of.

The crime shocked Germany which is struggling with an influx of almost a million refugees, most of them Muslim, changing the face of the country forever. The case stokes fears of a schizophrenic society evolving with some immigrants unable to jettison values and beliefs that have no place in modern western societies.

Judge Volker Wagner referred to their right to live in their own cultural cosmos when he summed up before sentencing – but not at the expense of human life.

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Indian teen strangled by brothers and dumped in canal in honour killing

A pregnant 19-year-old girl’s body was found in a canal after her brothers strangled her in an honour killing, police in India said.

The teenager was allegedly strangled by her two brothers and thrown in the Ganges river in Meerut, Uttar Pradesh – which lies 43km northeast of capital New Delhi.

The girl’s body was removed from the canal on Tuesday.

Hastinapur police chief P K Singh said the victim was thought to be having an affair with a man from the same village.

Her parents discovered she was eight months pregnant when they took her to a doctor after she felt unwell one day, The Times of India reported.

Mr Singh added her brother Sonu and cousin Bhoore and another accomplice took her to the canal where they strangled her and dumped her body.

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