Jasvinder Sanghera: Communities must end these awful abuses

Honour crimes are on the increase and, sadly, this case is one of many more to come. Shafilea's experience reflects those of the majority who seek help. The Karma Nirvana helpline I run receives more than 600 calls a month from British women and girls who feel trapped, suicidal and scared — often for their lives.

Victims are taught never to bring shame on their families and that it is their duty to obey because of religion or tradition.

They live in turmoil, not wishing to hurt their loved ones. They may attempt suicide or try to escape. But although they plead for their right to live out their dreams, too often they face being taken abroad, forced into an unwanted marriage or killed.

Despite the reaction of horror at Shafilea's story, recent research suggests that attitudes are still entrenched. More than two-thirds of young Asians in Britain agree families should live by the concept of "honour", or "izzat". One fifth of those believe physical punishment is appropriate for those who bring dishonour. The police record 2,800 honour crimes each year in the UK. But the real figure is probably much higher.

Where was the outcry from Shafilea's community? There is no honour in murder or forcing your child to live in fear. Too many of us still have to fight for the right to live as we choose.

Karma Nirvana forced marriage helpline: 0800 5 999 247

Comments