For the first time, a shocking new report has recorded and revealed that more than 2,800 women and girls in the UK have suffered from "honour attacks" from their families or communities in the last year.
The "honour attack" tally, as requested by the Iranian and Kurdish Women's Rights Organisation (Ikwro), revealed that almost 500 incidents were witnessed in London itself. Among the 12 police forces able to provide figures from 2009, there was an overall 47 percent rise in such incidents in just a year.
Horror or Honour?
The "honour attack" is a violence-based crime planned and carried out by families or community, usually meant for women and girls, for committing acts beyond the boundaries of their religion and bringing shame upon their family name.
In order to defend the so-called perceived "honour" the victims are punished for their doings by means of threats, abduction, acid attacks, beatings, forced marriage, mutilation and even murder.
Firsts of Its Kind Study
The Ikwro research, carried out between July and November, reveals the collective figures for the first time in the UK as gathered by 39 police forces for honour-based violence.
"This is the first time that a national estimate has been provided in relation to reporting of honour-based violence. The number of incidents is significant, particularly when we consider the high levels of abuse that victims suffer before they seek help," said the Ikwro report.
For the year 2010, the research recorded 2,823 incidents. It also revealed that another 500 crimes in which police were involved were committed in the 13 police areas that did not provide data. However, the charity does not give a full picture of the unsettling crime-based attacks.
The research found that eight police forces had recorded more than 100 "honour attacks" each in 2010. The Metropolitan Police had the most number of attacks at 495, followed by West Midlands (378), West Yorkshire (350), Lancashire (227), Greater Manchester (189), Cleveland (153), Suffolk (118) and Bedfordshire (117).
Of the 12 police forces able to provide 2009 comparison figures, nine recorded a rise in attacks and three saw totals fall.
According a BBC report, the biggest jump was noticed in Northumbria by 305 percent from 17 in 2009 to 69 in 2010, followed by a 154 percent jump in Cambridgeshire from 11 to 28. In the comparable figures for 2009 and 2010, the Guardian reported the number of incidents had risen from 938 to 1,381. London reported a rise of "honour attack" incidents from 235 to 495. Greater Manchester reported a rise from 105 to 189.
The remaining quarter of police forces in the UK was unable or unwilling to provide data and communities have often been reluctant to talk about the crime, said Ikwro.
Diana Nammi, the director of Ikwro, said the families often tried to deny the existence of "honour attacks" and the people who carried out such attacks were "very much respected."
"The perpetrators will be even considered as a hero within the community because he is the one defending the family and community's honour and reputation," Diana was quoted as saying by the BBC.
With only less support available for the victims, Diana said many victims continued to need help and protection for their lives.
"For some cases, police and some organisations just help them up to a length of time, then they will stop," she said. "With honour-based violence, the threat may be a lifetime threat for them."
Ikwro's campaigns officer Fionnuala Ni Mhurchu remarked the rising increase was due partly to better police awareness and to more victims coming forward to report crimes. However, she said the violence was also increasing as young people increasingly refused to succumb to their families' demands.
"They're resisting abuses of their human rights such as forced marriage more and more," Fionnuala was quotes as saying by the Guardian. "And as a result they're being subjected to this kind of violence. We hear from the community that this violence is on the increase."
Earlier in 2006, a 20-year-old Kurd Banaz Mahmood was strangled, despite making repeated attempts to police, after her father and uncle disapproved of her boyfriend. With this case, the Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo) in 2008 published a new strategy aimed at gauging the scale of the problem and recommending that all English and Welsh police forces start recording the number of honour incidents.
Of the UK's 52 forces, 45 police forces have already done it, although there is no national guidance in Scotland. The 52 police forces comprise 39 in England, four in Wales, eight in Scotland, and the Police Service of Northern Ireland.