BY Sofie Buckland
As the Organisation for Women's Freedom in Iraq campaigns against honour killings in Kurdistan (see www.workersliberty.org/node/8491), news of honour killings in Britain has been splashed across the press. Centring on the case of Banaz Mahmod, a young Kurdish women, whose uncle and father have just been convicted of her murder, British press coverage exposes the failure of police to take this kind of violence seriously.
Banaz told police on at least four separate occasions that her family were trying to kill her. Her transgression was to leave an unhappy arranged marriage and start a new relationship. No one took her seriously despite a high-profile police protocol on honour killings, announced in 2004. As with many superficial police attempts to catch up on gender-based violence and rape, little training is available and officers report a “postcode lottery” as to whether young women reporting honour crimes will be helped or ignored.
Groups like Southall Black Sisters report a lack of understanding amongst police of the complexities of honour crimes – as a kind of domestic abuse, and the interplay between forced marriages, honour killings, and high rates of suicide amongst young Asian women (at three times the national average, likely to be concealing more honour crimes - currently estimated at a rate of 12 killings a year, with a raft of related issues such as forced abortions, imprisonment and rape).
Southall Black Sisters and the Iranian and Kurdish Women’s Rights Organisation are now calling for an investigation by the Independent Police Complaints Commission.