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Lisa Butler (Police, Community Relations Officer, South Oxon and Vale)
A victim of Honour Based Abuse (HBA) speaks out in support of today’s (14/7) Day of Memory for Honour Based killings.
The national memorial day remembers victims of honour based killings and was started by campaigner Karma Nirvana and Cosmopolitan in memory of Shafilea Ahmed who was murdered by her parents in 2003. Today marks what would have been Shafilea’s 30th birthday.
TVP is supporting the day to raise awareness of Honour Based Abuse (HBA) and encourage victims to come forward and report incidents to police. Help is available for those at risk and TVP are able to signpost victims to this support. All TVP officers have received training about Honour Based Abuse.
Shahina Swain is a victim of HBA and has worked with TVP to produce a video about her experience to help people understand the crime and the impact it has.
During a holiday to Bangladesh when she was 17-years-old, Shahina was handed an invite to her own wedding by her mother and locked in a room to prevent her leaving. She had not met the man she was being forced to marry. Thankfully a friend helped Shahina to escape however she continued to be subjected to abuse when she returned to the UK.
Shahina said: “I had lots of issues with sleepless nights, with feeling low in my mood, with paranoia and looking over my shoulder. Would I be sent back? I would wake up in the middle of the night with cold sweats thinking, they’ve done this to me once they’re going to do it to me again.”
Shahina’s message to victims of HBA is simple: “Please talk to someone, whether it’s a teacher, a social worker or you calling 999 or 101”.
To hear Shahina’s story please visit the Thames Valley Police YouTube page (opens new window).
HBA is a crime. It is an act that is committed to control behaviour within families or the community to protect cultural and religious beliefs.
Victims may be subjected to the following types of abuse in the name of honour:
- threats of violence
- emotional abuse
- forced marriage
- being held against your will or taken somewhere you don’t want to go
HBA warning signs can include poor attendance or performance at school or work.
Women and girls are the most common victims of HBA however it can also affect men and boys.
Det Supt Colin Paine, Head of Protecting Vulnerable People said: “Thames Valley Police takes so called “Honour Based Abuse” very seriously. We know that in cases of honour based abuse we must get it right first time. All our officers have received training and we also have specialist officers.
“Crimes committed in the name of honour are despicable and damaging; they may be life changing or even life threatening for victims. Due respect must always be given to legitimate cultural traditions and sensitivities, but these must never be barriers behind which desperate people become imprisoned.
“When whole families are motivated by the ideas of honour and shame it is easy for victims to feel that they have no voice, and no one to turn to. For victims to suffer at the hands of those people who are closest to them, people who should be offering them love and protection, is the ultimate injustice. However, I want to reassure victims that there are many people who can help.
“I would encourage victims to come forward and report any behaviour they are concerned about. We will always support victims and treat their report confidentially. Reporting these offences is a brave step and we will do everything in our power to maintain the trust and confidence of those who take it.”
Police and Crime Commissioner for Thames Valley, Anthony Stansfeld said:
“Honour Based Abuse is a truly horrific crime which can often leave victims completely isolated and with no support.
“Tackling this type of abuse and supporting victims are key priorities for me and I would encourage anyone who has experienced it or knows of anyone who is experiencing it to contact Thames Valley Police.”
For further information about HBA and the support services available please visit the Honour Based Abuse and Forced Marriage section of the http://www.thamesvalley.police.uk/
If you or anyone you know is at risk of HBA please contact the Thames Valley Police Enquiry Centre on 101 or in an emergency dial 999.
If you don’t want to speak directly to police you can contact the independent charity https://crimestoppers-uk.org anonymously on 0800 555 111. No personal details are taken, information is not traced or recorded and you will not go to court.