‘Honour’ crimes bring nothing but shame

Last Updated: 12:01am GMT 04/02/2008

 

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/opinion/main.jhtml?xml=/opinion/2008/02/04/dl0401.xml

Today sees the publication of a devastating report on the rise of “honour-based” violence against women from immigrant communities in the UK. It is devastating not just because it reveals the complicity of some “community leaders” in killings, attempted murder and beatings, but also because its sources are so authoritative.

Crimes of the Community, by a new non-political think tank called the Centre for Social Cohesion, is based on the testimony of Asian women’s groups, which have bravely decided to speak out against a growing assault on women made possible by an alliance of religious fundamentalism and state-funded political correctness.

The report also has the backing of Nazir Afzal, director of the West London Crown Prosecution Service and the CPS expert on honour killings. According to the CPS, one woman a month dies in this way.

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Not all these atrocities are carried out by Muslims: the Hindu and Sikh communities also suffer from – and are implicated in – the ghastly practices of honour killings, religiously inspired beatings and forced marriages. But Islamic traditionalists are the prime offenders, and their leaders quickest to dismiss allegations.

The UK Sharia Council describes forced marriage as a “media exaggeration”; mosques turn away representatives from Asian women’s groups; when Mohammed Arshad, chairman of the Dundee Mosque and a religious adviser to the NHS, tried to arrange the murder of his son-in-law, the Tayside Islamic and Cultural Education Society asked for his seven-year jail sentence to be reduced to community service because he was so “respected and honoured”.

Crimes of the Community describes societies that are scarcely recognisable as part of 21st-century Britain. According to a women’s refuge in Derby, some Asian taxi firms will take threatened girls “straight back to the place they’ve just escaped from”.

In many cases, says the report, “women fleeing domestic violence or forced marriage have been deliberately returned to their homes or betrayed to their families by policemen, councillors and civil servants of immigrant origin”.

The Pennines Domestic Violence Group accuses Asian councillors in Huddersfield of blocking their activities, with the support of white councillors. Most shockingly of all, Asian women’s groups say they do not trust Asian police officers not to deliver girls back to their abusive families.

Clearly, honour crimes in closed communities pose a daunting challenge to police forces. Yet it must be met. Mr Afzal makes the disturbing point that areas of Islamist terrorism and honour crimes coincide almost exactly: we are dealing here with a threat to security as well as freedoms.

Meanwhile, as this study concludes, politicians who turn a blind eye to these crimes are denying basic human rights to women simply because they come from a foreign culture. They are, in short, racists.

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