Honor-Killings Rise Across Europe and the US

New information reveals that more women across the United States and Europe are being murdered for the sake of preserving religious family honor.

The Iranian and Kurdish Women's Rights Organization revealed last month that 2,823 incidents of “honor” based violence were reported to police across the U.K. last year. The numbers reflect only 39 of the 52 police stations that responded from England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Nine police stations also offered data from the previous year, which revealed a 57 percent increase in honor-based violence from 2009 to 2010.

The organization founder, Diana Nammi, reported that the reality of the numbers could be far darker. Many of the crimes happen within a family unit and most go unreported due to fear. Nammi said that past government changes would not be enough to protect the women who face honor-based violence.

Jasvinder Sanghera said in a BBC interview that her sister committed suicide by lighting herself on fire at the age of 24, in order to escape an abusive marriage. “In the mindset of my family and others from my culture, it is better to commit suicide than to divorce your husband.”

In the United Kingdom new evidence led police to the arrest of 17-year-old Shafilea Ahmed’s parents in September of 2011. Her decomposed body was found near a river in 2004. The coroner said the girl had been the victim of a “vile murder.”

Nammi said that the government faces many issues in dealing with political correctness when it pertains to Muslim communities. Although victims can come from many different cultures including Sikhs or Hindus, she says honor violence is most common in the Muslim community.

The United States has also had to acknowledge the issue of honor killings. An Illinois girl ran away from her family in 2011 to avoid an arranged marriage by her father, who was a native of Pakistan. Police sought after her, not to bring her home, but in fear the she would become a victim of honor.

Noor Al-Maleki, 20, was run over by her father Faleh after she shunned an arranged marriage. Her family had moved from Afghanistan to Arizona in the mid-1990s. According to police, her father became upset over her style of dress and her resistance to his rules. He had reached the United Kingdom before he was captured and extradited back to the U.S. and charged with murder.

Nammi proposed that Muslim communities needed to undergo new education to instruct that killing is never an honorable thing to do. She also said that the women needed to be more aware of their rights. She referred to honor killings as “organized crime,” an issue that governments needed to deal with.

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