Wednesday, December 07, 2005

UK: Reuters reports on honor crimes that have become more a priority in Europe over the last couple of years as Britain is the latest to try and take action.

Rukhsana Naz was 19 when her mother pinned her to the floor of their family house and her brother strangled her with a length of plastic cable. Sahjda Bibi, 21, was preparing to celebrate her wedding when her cousin stabbed her 22 times with a kitchen knife. The father of 16-year-old Heshu Yones slit her throat because he disapproved of her Western habits and non-Muslim boyfriend. All were victims of "honor killings," murdered by relatives who believed they had brought shame on their families through their behavior or choice of boyfriend, husband or lover. Until recently, honor crime was rarely reported and often misunderstood in Britain, viewed as something which happened elsewhere -- mainly in the Middle East or southern Asia. But a series of gruesome killings has forced Britons to recognize that such crimes, although still rare, are committed here too, often within the country's large ethnic Bangladeshi, Indian and Pakistani communities. Girls and young women have been killed, abducted, physically abused and held prisoner in their own homes. Police believe scores have been taken out of the country, often to the Indian subcontinent, and have disappeared. Nazir Afzal, director of Britain's Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) in west London where there is a large south Asian community, says there have been at least a dozen honor killings in the country in the past year. "And murder is just the tip of the iceberg," he said. "There are other crimes, like rape, abduction and physical violence, which we would consider steps on the stairway to murder." ....Specialists on violence against women also say social cultural changes, partly spread by globalization and mass media, have left men from southern Asia feeling threatened and women are bearing the brunt of their fear. The CPS stresses honor crime is not just a Muslim issue. "I'm aware of crimes being committed in Eastern Europe, North Africa, the Middle East, Brazil, Spain, France, Italy, and also within those communities in this country," Afzal said. "That said, the bulk of these crimes involve the South Asian community and in particular the Muslim community."
It is unconscionable that it has taken this long to get serious about this.

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