Petition calls for birthday of Bradford honour violence victim to be used for annual memorial

Shafilea Ahmed

Shafilea Ahmed

First published in News Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Photograph of the Author by , Bradford Chief Reporter

Campaigners pushing for a national memorial day for victims of so-called honour killings have suggested the birthday of Bradford-born victim Shafilea Ahmed as the annual date.

They are calling on people to sign an online petition to lobby David Cameron to make July 14 the special day.

Karma Nirvana – a charity supporting victims of honour crimes, supported by magazine Cosmopolitan – has started the campaign, which also aims to help women break the silence surrounding forced marriages.

Shafilea died in 2003 after suffering years of honour-based violence, including an attempted forced marriage. The 17-year-old’s parents drugged her and flew her to Pakistan and later suffocated her to death in front of her siblings.

In 2012 her parents were found guilty of murder and sentenced to life in prison.

Shafilea lived in Girlington before the family moved to Warrington. It was there where she was killed in 2003.

Jasvinder Sanghera, a survivor of forced marriage and founder and chief executive of Karma Nirvana said: “We passionately believe that this day could have a huge impact in terms of encouraging girls and women to come forward and report the abuse they’re experiencing at the hands of their families.”

Pav Ahmed is leading the petition on She was just seven years old when her father and grandmother arranged for her mother, Surjit Athwal, to be killed while on holiday in India.

Forced marriage is set to become illegal in England and Wales but the campaign says thousands of women are still being beaten, abused and raped via honour-based violence – for some, on a daily basis.

Karma Nirvana’s helpline receives an average of 700 calls a month.

People can sign the petition by going to

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