If the criminal justice system is to be seen as offering the most appropriate solution to violence against women, then we must question the value of the uniform treatment of cases. It is also essential that we confront the historical lack of action by the police along with their maltreatment of women when responding to "honour" crimes. Many women that I spoke to following the sentencing of Banaz's killers, for example, vowed never to use the criminal justice system to combat violence that they might experience. Of course, this is testimony from women who have not had a satisfactory experience and who do not wish to lose control of their lives in order to protect themselves. However, this does not exonerate the service of blame, as I have also met women who have wanted help from the criminal justice system, but who have failed to get the help they need.
Despite these continuing problems, however, it seems "honour" killings are now being seen by the police as serious crimes, requiring a general policy of deterrence and harsh punishment. But we must also change the "habits of belief" which persist across the system. Only then will the discourse on violence against women and the overall quest for justice in this area contribute to the continued emancipation of women.
Dr Aisha Gill is a senior lecturer in criminology at Roehampton University. She has served on government committees addressing honour killings and forced marriage
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