The North West remembers victims of honour killings

Credit: GMP

Women who've lost their lives through so called honour killings will be remembered in the North West today.

Numerous police forces from across the region, as well as schools and partners across the North West are supporting Britain's Lost Women, the first annual event to remember those women and men that have fallen victim to honour based abuse and forced marriages.

Today would have been Shafilea Ahmed's 29th birthday she was killed by her parents in Chester aged just 17.

As a mark of respect pupils at Whalley Range high school released 250 balloons to remember her and other victims.

They have also developed a short video. It will be played to an audience of students from across the south Manchester area.

There are 5000 honour killings a year across the world, and of these, around 12 a year are known to happen in the UK. But experts agree that this number is likely to be the tip of the iceberg, as so many victims simply go missing.

A young woman who fled her violent family and the prospect of a forced marriage to make a new life for herself in Merseyside is today encouraging other victims of honour-based violence to seek help.

The mum-of-two has taken part in a video produced by Merseyside Police to mark the new national day of remembrance for Britain's 'lost women' and the anniversary of murdered teenager Shafilea Ahmed's birthday.

In the video the woman, who is aged in her 20s but remains anonymous for her own safety, talks about her family arranged for her to be married to a man much older than her in another country and beat her when she refused to conform.

She also talks about how she planned how she would leave her family by seeking advice from the government's Forced Marriage Unit and how she was helped by a women's refuge and a local charity when she arrived in Merseyside with few possessions, no accommodation and no friends or family nearby.

Police forces across the region are supporting the annual National Day of Memory for Britain’s Lost Women.

In 2014 it became illegal to force someone to marry, and breaching a Forced Marriage Protection Order (FMPO) is now also a criminal offence. Forcing someone to marry can result in a prison sentence of up to seven years, while breach of a FMPO carries a maximum prison sentence of five years.

In Lancashire alone, 1,049 honour crimes were recorded between 2010 and 2014.

To help raise awareness, Lancashire Constabulary has written to most secondary schools across the county to highlight the NationalDay of Memory for Britain’s Lost Women.

The force will also be holding a live ‘Facebook chat’ today on the subject of honour based abuse and forced marriage in order to try and raise awareness.

The ‘chat’ will be held on the main Lancashire Police Facebook page at 12.30pm.

For more information on honour based abuse and forced marriage visit the Lancashire Constabulary website

The Lost Women campaign was set up by Cosmopolitan and Karma Nirvana, they are encouraging people to sign their petition to pledge their support for change. You can sign the pledge here.

For more information on the national campaign click here.

If you are a victim or know someone who is you can report to police on 101. Always dial 999 in an emergency.