Memorial Day remembers victims of Honour Based Abuse

14 July 2016
To mark the second Honour Based Abuse Memorial Day today, Thursday 14 July 2016, the Safer Poole Partnership held an educational event at Parkstone Grammar School with Dorset Police and the Dorset Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC).

So called ‘honour based abuse’ is any violence or abuse which has or may have been committed to protect or defend the honour of the family and/or community. It can include emotional or verbal abuse, controlling behaviour, threats, physical violence, sexual assault and even murder. There are also separate offences of forced marriage and female genital mutilation (FGM).

The annual Day of Memory for victims of honour based abuse is led by the Karma Nirvana charity. 14 July was chosen as the date because it was the birthday of Shafilea Ahmed, who was murdered by her parents in 2003 for being “too westernised”.

In support of the Memorial Day, the Safer Poole Partnership held an educational event at Parkstone Grammar School in Poole, with Dorset Police and the Dorset PCC, to raise awareness of the issues around honour based abuse, forced marriage and FGM.

Attended by Parkstone Grammar students from year nine, ten and twelve, as well as teachers and students from other local schools, the event aimed to encourage pupils to look out for signs that someone in their year group may be in danger of honour based abuse and how they can report their concerns.

The event was opened and closed by PCC Martyn Underhill and included an educational input from Dorset Police’s Safe Schools Community Team who delivered their honour based abuse, forced marriage and FGM information package to the students.

Safer Poole Partnership representatives, along with Poole Grammar School students, read a tribute of Shafilea Ahmed’s life and recited Shafilea’s poem ‘Happy Families’. A minute of silence was also held to remember the many victims of so called ‘honour’ killings.

Safer Poole Partnership Community Safety Partnership Manager, Anthi Minhinnick, said: “Nationally there are approximately 12 reported honour killings per year in the United Kingdom. This Day of Memory event marks the national day of remembrance for those who have been murdered by their families in the name of honour. 

“The statistics do not take into account the many people and school children who are taken abroad, do not return and their whereabouts remain unknown. Neither do they reflect the nature of the abuse which can often be non-violent, but nonetheless threatening and frightening to the point where you can’t make a single decision about your own life.

“People at risk of honour based abuse may have had negative experiences. Safer Poole Partnership work in association with Karma Nirvana to offer training to practitioners on honour based abuse and forced marriage.”

The lead-up to the school holidays is a time of increased risk for victims, who face the prospect of being taken abroad to be forced into marriage or have FGM conducted. Teaching staff are often best placed to spot changes in behaviour and alert the authorities before the situation escalates. Guidance has been distributed to all teaching staff in Dorset to help them recognise the warning signs of forced marriage and FGM. 

Karma Nirvana founder Jasvinder Sanghera CBE said: “At this time of year it is imperative to raise awareness about these abuses as many young people are at risk before the summer holidays. It is often a friend that passes on helpline numbers to affected groups. 

“The heart of prevention is within a school setting and it is a credit to the Safer Poole Partnership who have organised this event to mark the national Day of Memory, a day when awareness is key. 

“We will also be marking the day with national partners in Newcastle in the knowledge that we are not alone in tackling this together. Shafilea Ahmed was an aspiring A-level student, sadly she won't achieve her ambitions but this event will help others to.”

Dorset Police Safe Schools and Communities Officer, Shelley Conolly said: “Honour based crimes are believed to be widely under-reported and it is important that we raise awareness of these issues with young people so they understand how to recognise signs of risk and access support. 

“The Dorset Police Safe Schools Community Team has an honour based abuse, forced marriage and FGM educational package available, which can be delivered at any school in Dorset. I urge any teachers who feel this would be beneficial to their pupils to get in touch by emailing ssct@dorset.pnn.police.uk.”

Police and Crime Commissioner, Martyn Underhill said: “Dorset may be one of the safest places to live in the country but it is not excluded from issues such as honour based abuse, forced marriage and FGM, which are often hidden and unreported. 

“I would like to remind anyone that if you are experiencing honour based abuse or are concerned that you may be forced to marry – or even if you are concerned about someone else – there is help available. If you don’t want to speak to the police, independent organisations such as Karma Nirvana can help.”

Useful contacts:

Karma Nirvana (advice and support for victims of honour based abuse and forced marriage)
0800 5 999 / www.karmanirvana.org.uk

Forced Marriage Unit (help for those who have been, or think they will be, forced to marry)
020 7008 0151 / www.gov.uk/stop-forced-marriage

NSPCC FGM Helpline (help for victims/potential victims of female genital mutilation)
0800 028 3550

Dorset Police:
Dorset Police: For non-urgent matters, or to make an enquiry, please go to www.dorset.police.uk and follow the ‘Do it online’ function. Here you can pass all the details of your concerns to us via the online enquiry form. You can also email 101@dorset.pnn.police.uk or call 101. 

In an emergency, always call 999.
 
Alternatively contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111 or via www.crimestoppers-uk.org.

For details of other local support services, visit: www.dorsetforyou.com/dvahelp

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