The Iran and Kurdish Women’s Rights Organisation (IKWRO) has obtained statistics that show 2,823 instances of honour attacks were reported to police in 2010. IKWRO obtained the information from police forces under the Freedom of Information Act. 39 out of 52 police forces responded to the request with information that shows a 47 percent rise in recorded attacks in some parts of London. The data also shows that some forces, including four in Scotland, are yet to begin collecting data on honour based attacks.
The relatives of victims accused of shaming their family or community sometimes carry out honour attacks, which include abduction, imprisonment, beatings and murder. Women have been accused of dishonouring their families for as little as wearing make-up, dressing inappropriately and speaking to non-Muslim boys.
The IKWRO release marks the first time that figures on honour attacks have been gathered. Campaigners insist that the figures demonstrate honour attacks are a major problem. IKWRO are calling on the government to develop a national strategy to combat what it considers to be organised crime.
Unreported cases. Diana Nammi, director of IKWRO, told the BBC that families often deny the attacks. She explained that, perversely, “perpetrators will even be considered heroes within the community” for defending a “community’s honour and reputation.” Indeed, campaigners say the figures do not represent the full scale of the problem. In addition to families denying the attacks, victims often fail to report the violence in fear of recriminations. Jasvinder Sanghera of Karma Nirvana, a victim support group, said the figures could be four times as high as those reported.
The figures show “the tip of the iceberg, the reality is far darker” Nammi, director of IKWRO, told the BBC.
Changing mindsets through education. Nammi, speaking to the BBC, urged the government to step forward and support efforts to empower women and change the mindset of communities. She argued education, aimed at making women aware of their rights and equipping professionals with the tools to support victims, is a “huge element.”
Improving awareness. Opinions differ over the extent to which authorities are now prepared to deal with honour based violence. Fionnuala Ni Mhurchu, IKWRO’s campaign manager, said the increased figures were partly a result of an improved understanding of the issue by police and a willingness by more victims to come forward. Indeed, 495 incidents of honour based attacks were recorded in London in 2010, more than double those recorded in 2009. However, in the The Daily Telegraph, Nammi said “there is no systematic training for police and other government forces in the UK such as social services, teachers or midwives.”