Last Updated: Mon Mar 19, 2012 19:27 pm (KSA) 16:27 pm (GMT)

Nearly a fifth of young British Asians support honor-based violence: report

Banaz Mahmod (right) left her violent husband to be with her boyfriend, but was killed by relatives in 2006. Jasvinder Sanghera (left) has set up a helpline for victims and receives about500 calls a month. (File photo)
Banaz Mahmod (right) left her violent husband to be with her boyfriend, but was killed by relatives in 2006. Jasvinder Sanghera (left) has set up a helpline for victims and receives about500 calls a month. (File photo)

A large number of young British Asians support the use of physical violence against women who ‘dishonor’ their families, a poll conducted for the BBC has revealed.

About one in five – or 18 percent of the 500 young Asians between the ages of 16 and 34 questioned in the survey – said behaviors that could affect the honor of a woman’s family should be rewarded with physical violence.

These behaviors include disobeying a father, rejecting a prearranged marriage, or marrying someone unacceptable by the family.

According to the poll, 69 percent of respondents also agreed that families should live according to ‘honor.’ The figure includes 75 percent among men and 63 percent among women.

Regarding the so-called ‘honor killings’ only 3 percent of those questioned said it could be justified if the family’s ‘honor’ is damaged. When divided by gender, 6 percent of men, compared to 1 percent of women.

Karma Nirvana, a charity that supports victims and survivors of honor based violence, reported on its Website that it receives “on average approximately 5,000 calls a year on our national helpline supporting all victims and survivors of forced marriage and honor based abuse.”

Jasvinder Sanghera, of the Karma Nirvana, fled her parent’s home when they attempted to force her into an arranged marriage at the age of 14.

She urged Asian community leaders in Britain to speak against the honor code, also known as “Izzat” in Urdu language.

“I’ve yet to see community leaders, religious leaders, politicians; Asian councilors give real leadership on this. They don’t because they know it makes them unpopular,” Sanghera told the BBC.

Iranian and Kurdish Women’s Rights Organization (IKWRO) has revealed that more than 2,800 incidents of ‘honor’ based violence were reported to police across the UK last year.

“These figures demonstrate that ‘honor’ based violence is not a minor problem but a very serious issue which affects thousands of people each year, many of whom will suffer high levels of abuse before they seek help,” an IKWRO spokesperson said, according to the organization’s website.

The Home Office has launched a campaign seeking public opinion on creating a specific criminal offence for forced marriages and how it should be formulated.

The Home Office defines honor-based violence, honor crimes and honor killings as a “variety of crimes of violence (mainly but not exclusively against women), including assault, imprisonment and murder where the person is being punished by their family or their community. They are being punished for actually, or allegedly, undermining what the family or community believes to be the correct code of behavior. In disobeying this code of behavior, the person shows that they will not conform to their family’s rules and this is to the “shame” or “dishonor” of the family.”

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