Today is the third National Day of Memory for victims of so-called 'honour killings' and the event is being marked by an awareness-raising event hosted by a Merseyside-based charity.
The national day, held every year on 14th July, marks the birthday of Shafilea Ahmed, who would have been celebrating turning 31 today (Friday).
Shafilea was just 17 when she was suffocated with a plastic bag at the family home in Warrington in 2003. The teenager’s parents, Iftikhar and Farzana Ahmed were jailed in August 2012 for 25 years after being found guilty of her murder.
Shafilea's birthday has been chosen as a date of annual remembrance for all those subjected to honour-based violence. On the day, Savera UK - a Merseyside-based charity, working to safeguard those at risk of horrific incidents of honour-based violence, female genital mutilation and forced marriage – will hold a conference to remember the victims, and raise awareness of these ‘hidden’ crimes in our society.
Since Savera UK was set up in 2010, the charity has been tackling domestic abuse within Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) communities, and working to raise awareness among professionals, practitioners and the community about domestic abuse and these harmful practices.
Afrah Qassim, Founder and Chair of Savera UK said: "Many have lost their lives and many are at risk of losing theirs to an unwritten code of conduct so called ‘Honour’. Those who practice harmful practices would use religion, culture and other means to justify their acts of honour when believing a family member has dishonor or cause shame to the family.
"But Savera UK is here to campaign and challenge attitude, raise awareness and be the voice to those who are not yet able to speak and support and advocate for those who are brave to break the chain for a new beginning and freedom."
The exact number of ‘honour’ killings or attempted killings each year in the UK is unknown. According to The Henry Jackson Society database of killings or attempted killings, 29 cases have been reported in the media to have taken place within the UK in the last five years.
Merseyside's Police Commissioner Jane Kennedy said: "The tragic death of Shafilea Ahmed should act as a constant reminder of the need to raise awareness of these complex issues.
“These crimes are still significantly under-reported in Merseyside and across the country. We know there may only be one chance, one window of opportunity to speak to a potential victim. That might mean just once chance to save their life, which is why this memorial day is so important in increasing awareness and understanding.
The guest speaker at the conference, being held at Tranmere Rovers Football Ground, Prenton Park, is Savera UK’s Patron Nazir Afzal (OBE former Chief Crown Prosecutor for England for the North West of England).
The event has been organised in partnership between Savera UK , Wirral Connect and MSB Solicitors Firm,
To book your place to attend the event or further information, please visit https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/national-memorial-day-for-all-those-murdered-in-the-name-of-honour-tickets-35534080391