Bradford Council For Mosques last night insisted there was no excuse for violence or abuse against women after the release of new research exploring the issue of family honour in the Asian community.
Mohammed Rafiq Sehgal, President of the Council For Mosques, spoke out after findings from a new poll of young British Asians were released.
Nationally 500 Asians aged between 18 and 34 were questioned as part of the ‘honour’ survey carried out for the BBC’s Panorama programme.
A total of 18 per cent of those quizzed felt certain behaviour by a woman which could affect her family’s honour was justification for physical punishment.
Examples of that behaviour included disobeying her father and wanting to leave an existing or pre-arranged marriage.
Three per cent said there was a justification for so-called ‘honour killings’, rising to six per cent of men who took part in the survey and one per cent of women.
Mr Sehgal said: “Islam totally forbids any form of violence and abuse against individuals without any exception. Therefore, naturally, we are against all forms of abuse and violence.
“However, we do acknowledge that there may be a minority who do not fully understand the Islamic position or may be motivated by other considerations outside Islam.”
Two-thirds of those interviewed in the poll believed families should live according to the honour concept.
A survey of police forces by the Iranian and Kurdish Women’s Rights Organisation (IKWRO) in November found there were almost eight incidences of honour crimes a day – although 13 of 52 forces did not supply the charity with a breakdown.
Rashid Awan, of the Pakistan Society of West Yorkshire, said he was astonished to hear some people, a small minority, said punishment was acceptable if a woman’s behaviour affected her family’s honour and found it “frightening” that others believed honour killings could be justified.
“It is a crime against humanity. Honour killings are deep-rooted in Pakistan but at last people are starting to put pressure on the government there to look on it as a crime.
“I’m glad this survey in Britain shows a majority of young British Asians have said punishment and killing over honour is not acceptable.”
Nazir Afzal, of the Crown Prosecution Service, said: “Forced marriage is the earthquake and what follows is a tsunami of domestic abuse.”