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A NEW police campaign highlighting the issues of forced marriage and honour-based abuse starts today.

The date coincides with what would have been the birthday of 17-year-old Shafilea Ahmed, originally from Bradford, who was killed in 2003 by her parents.

Shafilea had dreamed of becoming a lawyer and had wanted to embrace Western-life. Her body was found in a river in Cumbria, she had been suffocated in her home in Warrington and in 2012 her parents were jailed for life.

Today is also the third annual national day of remembrance for all victims of honour killings and WestYorkshire Crime Commissioner Mark Burns-Williamson is signing a pledge at the Day of Memory Conference in Leeds hosted by national charity Karma Nirvana.

He said: “Tackling 'honour' based abuse remains a focus and priority in my Police and Crime Plan 2016-21 and I will continue to work closely with the police and other key partners, such as Karma Nirvana, to raise awareness of these difficult issues, encourage victims and survivors to come forward and help to provide the proper and dedicated support needed.

“Often the victims of 'honour' based abuse can feel totally isolated from their own families and find it very difficult to come forward for a number of complex reasons. It’s crucial that events such as this one are held to re-inforce a wider understanding of such abuse, as well as remembering those who have suffered so much as a result, and in the end tragically lost their lives.”

Assistant Chief Constable Catherine Hankinson of West Yorkshire Police said: “There are specialist safeguarding units in every district of West Yorkshire with professionals who understand the issues and know how to help.

“There is no honour in any form of abuse. We take a victim-led approach to deal with these challenging issues which respects the views of victims and witnesses, provides the necessary support, confidentiality and protection from harm.

“In these types of cases, the views of the victim are taken seriously as to whether to prosecute and can ultimately be a deciding factor. We often see that victims do not want to prosecute their family, but our aim is to make sure the victim has the necessary support and above all, is safe.”

From June 2014 it became a crime to force someone to marry against their will. Forcing someone to marry can result in a sentence of up to seven years in prison.

The police can also apply for Forced Marriage Protection Orders to safeguard victims or potential victims and to put legally binding conditions on those involved in trying to force another person to marry. Anyone breaching a Forced Marriage Protection Order faces up to five years in prison.

Anyone wanting to report concerns about forced marriage or honour based violence, whether for themselves or someone they know, can talk to the police via 101, or 999 in an emergency.

People can also contact other agencies for support, such as Karma Nirvana on 0800 5999 249 and Childline on 0800 1111 More information about the new forced marriage legislation and support available for victims or those concerned about a friend or family member is available on the West Yorkshire Police website at: www.westyorkshire.police.uk/forcedmarriage