- Published on Monday, 21 December 2009 14:00
- Written by John Draper
- Hits: 1133
A report in the Daily Telegraph says that the number of murders, rapes and assaults on people who dare to break strict religious or cultural rules is doubling every year with up to two violent "honour crimes" being committed every day.
But charities which help victims of honour crimes say the true extent of the problem is far worse than the police figures show, as every year hundreds of victims - normally women - are too frightened to report attacks or to give evidence in court.
This was highlighted recently after a jury at London's Old Bailey convicted Mehmet Goren, 49, of the cold-blooded and premeditated murder of his 15-year-old daughter Tulay after she fell in love with someone from the "wrong" branch of Islam.
Miss Goren disappeared 10 years ago after telling a friend she might be pregnant but justice caught up with her father after his wife "courageously" testified against him and lifted what was described as the "cloak of secrecy" which surrounds honour crimes.
A prosecutor said the case was a "wake-up call" to the authorities over the extent of the problem in this country, which campaigners say is growing because of the rise of religious fundamentalism.
Miss Goren and her family had nine contacts with police in the days before her death, during which they complained of violence by Goren, but officers had little understanding at the time of the concept of honour crimes and she was left at the mercy of her father.
The court heard that Miss Goren, whose Turkish Kurd family are Alevi Muslims, was drugged, tortured and then killed by her father after she fell in love with a Sunni Muslim twice her age. Her body has never been found.
Goren, who adhered to what one police officer described as "outdated feudal beliefs", was sentenced to serve a minimum of 22 years in jail as the trial judge condemned the "hideous practice" of so-called honour killings.
She expressed fears for the safety of her mother Hanim, whose evidence against Goren had put her own life in danger. "No one should fail to realise what this means within our culture," she said.
"These people do not forget."
Figures released by the Metropolitan Police show that in London alone there have been 129 honour-based crimes between April and October this year, compared with 132 in the whole of 2008/09, which in turn was double the number of the previous year.
The Home Office has estimated that there are an average of 12 honour killings each year in England and Wales.
But Diana Nammi, director of the Iranian and Kurdish Women's Rights Organisation, described the official figures as "the tip of the iceberg" and suggested there are more than 500 honour crimes each year nationwide.
She said: "It's not just the detection of honour crimes which is increasing, but the number of crimes which are committed. The rise of fundamentalism is the reason these crimes are increasing. The Government has also been turning a blind eye to the problem, which only makes things worse.
"We need to change the mindset of the communities where these crimes are happening - mainly people from South Asia, the Middle East and Muslim communities - and hopefully the religious leaders will think about how we can stop this."
Detective Chief Inspector Gerry Campbell, of the Metropolitan Police, said officers were now trained to recognise potential honour crimes, and that awareness of the problem has "significantly improved", though he insisted the force was not "complacent" about the ongoing problem.
Maybe, just maybe, they are waking up in England. By "they" I mean the community at large - it seems the Police are now awake.
The next step is to get Canadians to realize how serious this problem is. But that's why I report these facts on this site.