Police and partners mark Honour Based Abuse Memorial Day

Dorset Police and partners are supporting the first annual Day of Memory for Britain’s Lost Women for victims of honour based abuse on 14 July.

Honour based abuse is a crime or incident 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.

Between 1 April 2014 and 31 March 2015, there were 17 recorded crimes relating to honour based abuse, forced marriage and female genital mutilation in Dorset. These crimes are believed to be widely under-reported.

To help tackle the issues, all teaching staff in Bournemouth and Poole have been given guidance to help them recognise the warning signs of honour based abuse and forced marriage and support potential victims.

The lead-up to the school holidays is a time of increased risk for victims, who face the prospect of being taken abroad to visit family. Teaching staff are often best placed to spot changes in behaviour and alert the authorities before the situation escalates.

Front-line workers and managers across the county will also be offered honour based  abuse and forced marriage training by the Safer Poole Partnership from September.

The annual Day of Memory for victims of honour based abuse was brought about by a joint campaign between Karma Nirvana and Cosmopolitan magazine. The date was chosen because it was the birthday of Shalfilea Ahmed, who was murdered by her parents in 2003 for being too westernised.

Jasvinder Sanghera CBE, survivor of forced marriage and founder and CEO of Karma Nirvana, says: “We hope to make a real change by launching the Day of Memory. But since the campaign began, there have been another 12 honour killings.

“People are still being threatened and abused by their families for failing to fall in line with their beliefs.

“Honour based abuse affects all faiths and cannot be attributed to a distinct religion. People don’t want to offend communities or individuals, or be called racist, but culture is no excuse for abuse.”

Commander Chishty, The National Police Chiefs’ Council Lead on Honour Based Abuse, said: “I would like to pay tribute to Karma Nirvana and Cosmopolitan for using their influence to shine more light on the topic of honour based abuse.

“This is a topic which the police service regards as a heinous crime which we will robustly tackle – with the aim of total eradication through victim-centred investigations and operations to tackle offenders.”

A Bournemouth language school teacher has written a short tribute to his pupil, Mashael Albasman, who was killed by her father in Bournemouth last year.

The teacher, who has asked not to be named, described Mashael as having a “strong personality” and said she was “excited about the myriad of opportunities that awaited her once she had brought her English up to the level she needed to go to university.”

He wrote: “She arrived at the school hungry to learn and improve her English. She was focused, determined and able. I never had the slightest doubt she would be successful.

“A student like Mashael is what makes a teacher’s job so ultimately rewarding – yes you have to put a lot in but you receive so much back as you watch the student progress. It is so sad to think all that no longer exists.”

Mashael’s father, Faleh Ghazi Albasman, was detained indefinitely under the Mental Health Act in October last year after he admitted stabbing Mashael to death, claiming that she had disrespected him.

Detective Inspector Joe Williams said: “This sad case highlights the fact that honour based abuse is unfortunately more widespread than many people think.

“Although we are now getting to hear of more cases, these crimes are still hugely under-reported.

“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 – I would urge you to seek advice. If you don’t want to speak to the police, there are independent organisations such as Karma Nirvana that can help.”

 

Useful contacts

Karma Nirvana (advice and support for victims of honour based abuse and forced marriage)

0800 5 999 /  http://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

101 (non-emergencies only)

999 (emergencies – crimes in progress or lives in danger)

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

 

Issued: 14 July 2015

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