Activist launches new Honour Based Violence Awareness network
Last week human rights activists Deeyah and Joanne Payton of Cardiff University launched a new digital resource for honour killings and honour-based violence (HBV) through the Honour Based Violence Awareness network (HBVA).
UK-based Deeyah was born to Pakistani and Afghan parents in Norway but was forced into exile and gave up her singing career after constant and sustained harassment from Islamic groups.
The HBVA website is an international digital resource centre working to advance understanding and awareness of honour killings and honour-based violence.
Resources include research, documentation and information for professionals such as teachers, health workers, social services, police, politicians and others who may encounter individuals at risk.
The four key areas are:
- Awareness: an international HBV education resource and digital portal
- Collaboration: convene a network of experts to collaborate on data sharing, knowledge and experience with the goal of understanding HBV globally
- Training: producing materials for European and US professionals to improve responses to victims within immigrant diaspora communities
- Research: conducting research to understand the extent, causes and risk factors of HBV and develop efficient and appropriate responses.
The site features international partners and collaborators from Pakistan, Iraq, the UK, the Netherlands, Sweden, Germany, India, Norway, Denmark, Bangladesh and Jordan.
The aim is to develop a network of experts, activists, and NGOs from around the world, establishing international partnerships to facilitate greater collaboration and education.
Over time it will provide an in-depth resource offering multi-media data and research materials about honour based violence.
HBV is a deep-rooted phenomenon that is no respecter of borders or religion. So far it has proved impossible to accurately record the number of honour killings, which HBVA estimates is 5000 per year.
The organisation acknowledges that its figures are inaccurate and this seems low compared with figures obtained by the Iranian and Kurdish Women’s Rights Organisation in 2010, that show UK police recorded 2,823 honour attacks.
This represents a 47% rise over 2009 figures though it is possibly because, with growing resources and training materials such as those provided by HBVA, police are now more able to recognise, act and record incidents of HBV.
Also lessons have been learnt from the 2006 killing of Banaz Mahmod, an Iraqi Kurd from London. A 2008 Independent Police Complaints Commission report found that Ms Mahmod had been let down by police.
Her father, uncle and two cousins were convicted of her murder. Prior to her murder Ms Mahmod told police that her father had tried to kill her but her account was dismissed as fantasy.
Yet the HBVA is hopeful that the global eradication of honour crimes is a possibility. Deeyah summarises the effect that greater awareness and training can have on professionals such as the police:
“Centuries-old cultures, customs, social structures and mentalities take time and effort to change.
“However, we can make a real and immediate impact, at least in Europe and the US, and deaths can be prevented, by implementing adequate training, providing research and properly informing those people in a position to help individuals at risk of HBV.
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