Day of Memory for Victims of ‘Honour-Based’ Violence
By Jasmine Freeman
The 14th July 2019 marks the 5th day of memory remembering those who lost their lives to ‘honour’ killings.
What is ‘honour-based’ violence?
There’s no statutory definition of ‘honour-based’ or so called ‘honour’ based violence. However, the Crown Prosecution Service and Home Office adopt the following definition: “‘Honour-based’ violence is a crime or incident which has or may have been committed to protect or defend the honour of the family and/or community.”
‘Honour-based’ violence is probably best described as a number of practices used to control someone’s behaviour usually perpetrated by a family or social group in order to protect perceived cultural and religious beliefs and/or honour. We refer to these crimes as ‘honour-based’ or so-called ‘honour’ based to emphasise that while those who commit or support these crimes believe they are connected to perceived ideas of honour these are in fact constructed ideas that in no way justify the violence perpetrated in their name.
A local problem
There are an estimated 12-15 reported ‘honour’ killings in the UK every year, although the exact number remains unknown. UK police forces recorded 11,744 ‘honour-based’ crimes between 2010 and 2014, including forced marriage, FGM, sexual and physical assault, and murder. Given that most ‘honour-based’ crimes go unreported, it’s likely that the true scale of the problem is much larger. In 2018, Karma Nirvana (a national charity supporting victims of ‘honour-based’ abuse and forced marriage) received over 13,124 contacts to their helpline from victims and professionals seeking support.
In June 2013, Rania Alayed, a mother of three from Manchester was murdered by her husband Ahmed Al-Khatib in an ‘honour’ killing. The prosecution said Ms Alayed had been killed for becoming “too westernised” and “establishing an independent life“. Her husband Ahmed Al-Khatib told Manchester Crown Court that he killed her in self-defence after an evil spirit entered her, but he denied murder. During the trial he admitted he had been unhappy when his wife started college and began wearing make-up.
Greater Manchester Police’s Detective Chief Inspector Phil Reade said “Make no mistake, this was an ‘honour’ killing – Al-Khatib’s murderous actions were motivated by his outrage and jealousy that Rania would attempt to take control of her own life and live a more westernised life.”