Thousands back campaign for honour killings memorial day in the name of Shafilea Ahmed (From Bradford Telegraph and Argus)
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Thousands back campaign for honour killings memorial day in the name of Shafilea Ahmed
A PLEA to the Prime Minister for a national day to remember victims of honour-based violence, held on the birthday of a murdered Bradford teenager, has been extended to lobby the Home Secretary.
Jasvinder Sanghera, the chief executive of the Karma Nirvana charity leading the call, said the petition was part of a wider campaign to raise awareness of the issue of forced marriage and help girls who were suffering at the hands of their families.
There are now also plans for a memorial stone with Shafilea Ahmed's name on it, after the petition to David Cameron attracted almost 96,000 names. The 17-year-old, from Bradford, was killed by her parents in 2003.
A second petition to Theresa May was started on Friday and has around 200 signatures.
Miss Sanghera said the Home Secretary's support was needed to protect and remember "these brave, honourable women and dishonour this abuse."
There are 5,000 honour killings a year across the world and around one a month in the UK - but experts believe there are many more as so many victims simply go missing.
The victims of honour-based violence are usually women and girls, as the men of the family seek to control their behaviour.
Miss Sanghera said: "The story of Shafilea Ahmed should have been a wakeup call for us all to act. Shafilea was brutally murdered by both her parents in 2003 in the presence of her siblings because she was deemed to have become too ‘westernised’.
"Shafilea was regularly abused and then murdered for being a normal teenager and embracing all that Britain stands for - freedom, independence, democracy and the right to choose whom she wished to marry. "
It took nine years for her parents to be found guilty and sentenced.
"Shafilea's case was indicative of a high volume of calls we're receiving to our help line. We're dealing with 800 calls a month. Of these, many are 12 to 18-year-olds and their experiences are identical to Shafilea's. These are young girls who just want to be normal teenagers."
She said Shafilea had been failed by many authorities she had approached for help.
"This kid couldn't have been more clear about what was happening to her," Miss Sanghera said.
"She was telling people what was happening and yet we still got it wrong."
Between 2008 and 2012 Karma Nirvana received 30,000 calls about honour-based abuse.
The remembrance day would be held on July 14, but it is not expected to be officially recognised this year.
On Monday forced marriage will become a criminal offence, which Miss Sanghera welcomed.
"People will be able to say for the first time, 'this is against the law. You can't do this to me'," she said.