Cheshire Constabulary will be supporting a national day of remembrance on Saturday 14 July for those who have been affected by this devastating issue.
Coordinated by charity Karma Nirvana, the day is an opportunity to remember the women and men who have died through honour based abuse and reach out to those that may be experiencing forced marriage - and to support those who have survived this kind of abuse.
This has particular significance for us in Cheshire as Shafilea Ahmed, who was murdered by her parents in Warrington in 2003, would have celebrated her 32nd birthday.
Shafilea Ahmed’s parents were jailed for 25 years in August 2012 after being found guilty of her murder in an honour based killing. She had been suffocated at the family home, her body was later disposed of and the family went about their business as if nothing had happened.
Summing up the case, the judge told the couple that their concern at being shamed in their community was greater than the love of their child.
As the day falls on a Saturday this year, Cheshire Police is joining other forces on Friday 13 July at a special event hosted by West Midlands Police and supported by the National Police Chief’s Council to raise awareness of forced marriage, honour based violence and abuse. The focus will be Prevention, Protection, Partnership and Pursue.
Detective Chief Superintendent Nigel Wenham said: “We should all be allowed the freedom to live our lives without fear of violence. Victims of honour based abuse and forced marriage do not have to suffer in silence and this national day of remembrance is an important time for us all to raise awareness of the issue – and provide an opportunity to encourage those who may be affected to come forward and seek help. Police and partners are continuing to work together to take action and support victims and survivors.
“Shafilea Ahmed’s death sent shockwaves through the local community - and further afield - and all those who worked on this case and were affected by her death still think about it today. The thought of parents killing their own child is completely incomprehensible and the day of remembrance serves as a reminder that innocent members of the community can be at risk of harm and can feel isolated as they are targeted by those closest to them. It took nine years to bring her parents to justice which shows our determination to pursue those responsible.”
This year’s day of remembrance focuses on generating national awareness and people are asked to support this worthy cause by using the hash tag #WeRemember and #stirringuptheconversation
Cheshire Police & Crime Commissioner David Keane said: “Shafilea Ahmed was a vibrant young woman with her whole life ahead of her. Her senseless death affected people right across the world and still does to this day. One of my key policing priorities is to support victims and protect the vulnerable and all of us should be allowed the freedom to live our lives without fear of violence. I would urge anyone who either has been, or feels they may be, in danger of becoming a victim of so-called honour based abuse, to speak to the Constabulary. I can assure you that your concerns will be treated seriously and sensitively.
“So-called honour-based abuse is often referred to as a hidden crime, and if you feel that someone you know might be at risk, please report it. I am committed to working with the Chief Constable to ensure we will continue to have a police service that is there to protect and serve everyone, especially those who are at risk of harm.”
If you know someone who is a victim of an honour based crime or at risk of being forced into a marriage please report your concerns to Cheshire Police on 101. If a crime is taking place or there is a danger to life you should dial 999 immediately.
Information can also be left anonymously, via Crimestoppers, on 0800 555 111.
Help and advice is also available from the charity Karma Nirvana (which focuses on those affected by Honour Based Abuse, Forced Marriage and Female Genital Mutilation.) via their helpline on 0800 5999 247 – this is a confidential service. You can also find out more about this support service by logging onto www.karmanirvana.org.uk.