Honour-based violence and forced marriages in communities across the North East go unreported because victims are frightened of being branded as racist, a report by ITV News Tyne Tees has revealed.
Honour-based violence is a form of domestic abuse which occurs when victims, mainly women, are punished, very often by their relatives, if they bring shame upon their families.
Claire Phillipson from Wearside Women in Need said that while the number of people approaching her for help is alarming, what is more worrying is the number who are not.
"I have no doubt that all over the North East [England] first, second, third generation English young women are being forced into marriage," Phillipson said.
"Schools and communities are keeping silent about it, because they are concerned that they would be called racist, islamophobic," she continued. "They don't quite know where the line between culture, religion and human rights should be drawn."
According to Domestic Violence London, the abuse is not only perpetrated by men: "Sometimes female relatives will support, incite or assist" the organisation said.
"It is also not unusual for younger relatives to be selected to undertake the abuse as a way to protect senior members of the family. Sometimes contract killers and bounty hunters will also be employed."
One of the women interviewed by ITV explained she had been sent from Pakistan to the UK in order to marry a man much older than her.
"My family said they would kill me, they would shoot me. That's what would happen, if I didn't do it.
"When I complained about it, my brother and sister tried to make me touch electrical sockets with wet hands, to electrocute me, and make it look like an accident," the woman said.
According to the Halo Project,there are approximately 12 reported honour killings per year in the United Kingdom.
This does not take into account the many people who are taken abroad and whose whereabouts are unknown.
Out of the 5000 honour killings that occur around the world each year, about 1000 happen in India and the same number take place in Pakistan, according to international digital resource centre Honour Based Violence Awareness (HBVA).
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