LONDON (TrustLaw) – "We have no clue to how high the numbers are. I think it's safe to say this is the tip of the iceberg," says Deeyah, the filmmaker behind a new documentary on an honour killing that shocked Britain.
Nearly 3,000 cases of honour violence were reported to the police in Britain in 2010, according to the UK-based Iranian and Kurdish Women’s Rights Organisation, though experts believe the number is much higher because many women are too frightened to report abuse.
“For numbers like that to exist and for there to be no specialist (London) police unit to deal with honour-based violence, I have to put a question mark there – why is that?" Deeyah told TrustLaw in a recent interview.
Her film, "Banaz – A Love Story", shows the failure of police to take death threats against Banaz seriously, but also captures the determination of detectives to bring her killers to justice.
Banaz was murdered in January 2006 for 'shaming' her Iraqi Kurdish family by leaving an abusive arranged marriage and later falling in love with another man.
"We feel that there's a lot more cases going on of these practices but (victims) are still in the dark, they're not aware that services are out there or they're too afraid to seek help because they've been so dependent on their families since they were little," said Anup Manota, project manager for Karma Nirvana, an organisation that helps victims of honour violence and forced marriage.
"They don't want to betray their family or be disowned," he told TrustLaw.
Here are six ways of tackling the problem of honour-based violence in the UK:
1) Everyone on the front lines of helping people at risk – whether they are police officers, teachers, nurses, doctors or social workers -- needs training to identify and understand the problem
2) People who are potentially at risk need to know help is available and be told where to get that help and how
3) Women's groups and other non-governmental organisations already working on this issue, often on a shoestring budget, need a boost in funding
4) Any campaign to tackle to honour violence needs to work with men
5) Community and religious leaders need to speak out against honour violence in a way that goes beyond lip service
6) A sustained, nationwide media campaign must be launched to draw attention to the problem