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Last Updated: Saturday, 26 June, 2004, 16:17 GMT 17:17 UK
Honour killings: Are police doing enough?
The killing of women deemed to have brought dishonour on their families is thought to be on the rise in Europe.

The conference in Hague, organised by Europol, is to set up a pan-European unit to combat such killings.

In the UK, Scotland Yard detectives are examining murder files going back 10 years - 52 in the London area and 65 in other parts of England and Wales.

Most of the female victims were from South Asian communities and some came from Arabic or eastern European backgrounds.

Detectives are not reopening the cases but hope to learn more about the scale and nature of the phenomenon.

Can police prevent so-called honour killings? What can society do to prevent them?

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.

The following comments reflect the balance of opinion we have received so far.

To stop these killings we must deter them
John Sinclair, Dundee, UK
The first step in solving a problem is admitting there is a problem. So we have made a first, though very belated, step forward. To stop these killings we must deter them and the greatest deterrent is to be certain of being caught. Once these killings are taken seriously by the police and severely punished by the courts, possibly by including castration of the men involved at whatever level, these are sex crimes after all, then we will see a massive reduction.
John Sinclair, Dundee, UK

There is always a lot of talk about respect for other cultures, but what about respect for western British culture? Our culture does not sanction any such 'honour' killings yet it is happening on our doorstep. Where is our respect?
Nick, Watford, UK

How can their even be a debate about this? Its the 21st century and to say that Honour Killings are part of a culture or has always been that way so they must be ok is just crazy and narrow minded. Maybe we should bring back drowning people that we think are witches or public hanging in town centres...after all it used to be that way!!!!
MB, Derby

No culture should advocate murder as a just way of dealing with family problems
Helen Kreissl
The treatment of women around the world in this day and age still beggars belief. This is not part of anyone's culture and to say it is, is an excuse used to somehow explain away the crime of murder. No culture should advocate murder as a just way of dealing with family problems. It's all well and good saying it's not acceptable in the West, it's not acceptable anywhere!
Helen Kreissl

I'm confused. Aren't we supposed to 'celebrate diversity' rather than impose our own ways on people with different beliefs? Is trying to stop 'honour killing' any different than trying to impose school dress code on Muslim girls?
Mark, London, UK

As someone close to the police I know that they have strong views but are very afraid to speak out on this matter - we have stopped them speaking the truth for fear of upsetting the local Islamic community. This matter concerns women being overpowered by their families usually to allow someone from Asia access into the UK. Can we call a halt to this sham? Can we call a halt to all of those mullahs who propagate this abuse of our culture? It is a great shame that we all know that this is going on in our communities and yet nobody has the courage to use the correct terminology - wife abuse - child abuse - murder.
DL, Hemel Hempstead

In Britain, 50% of murdered women were killed by their current or former husbands or boyfriends. They were killed because these men felt humiliated by actual or perceived betrayal or because the women left their abusive situation. Let's not kid ourselves - the only difference between "Us" and "Them" is that we refuse to acknowledge that our culture continues to produce men whose response to a sense of humiliation is murder.
Kaz, Briton in NJ, USA

The police may not be able to prevent them significantly. South Asian societies, mainly Muslims and to some extent Hindus too, are not democratic in nature and do not respect women the way it is meant in the West. They tend to be male dominated and it is an individual mostly and sometimes collective decision to go for 'honour killing' totally disregarding the independent will of a woman. The best deterrent will be deportation of families involved in honour killing. This will help cleanse the society of bad blood also.
Anis Mohiuddin, Calcutta, India

Western society cannot condone or turn a blind eye to this blight in our immigrant communities
Jennifer, New York, USA
If you move to the West, you are obligated to adhere to Western laws prohibiting murder, regardless of the reason. Western society cannot condone or turn a blind eye to this blight in our immigrant communities. Those families should be deported. Immigration is privilege, not a right.
Jennifer, New York, USA

Raise the age at which British citizens can bring a foreign marriage partner into this country. This would cut down on forced marriages. Fewer forced marriages would result in fewer honour killings.
John , London, UK

These women have a right to live their lives and not have their lives taken from them because their family is embarrassed about something. We don't see them killing men for the same things they kill women for so it is clearly a matter of discriminatory violence against women. No one in our society should condone or tolerate it.
Nathalie, France

People who immigrate to the EU must understand that this cultural practice is unacceptable to western society and if they choose to live in western society then they must abide by our rules or be sent back to their country of origin. Taking the live of another person is murder, plain and simple and not even a family member has the right to take another family members life for any reason. That is our culture in the west.
Anne, Bristol, UK

Can we please throw out the "institutional political correctness"
Ray G, London, England
I wish I could believe that this is an intelligent analysis of cases, intended to prevent more killings. But saying in advance that they will not reopen cases makes it sound more like an effort to be "understanding" of other cultures. Can we please throw out the "institutional political correctness" and go back to the old idea that all murders are equally wrong in the eyes of the law?
Ray G, London, England

There is no such thing as an honour killing. There is just murder. Period.
A. Becker, Prince George BC Canada

So-called "honour-killings" are murder. We all know murders can't be prevented. Instead of locking up the perpetrators of "honour-killings" at taxpayers' expense, they should be deported back to their country of origin.
Phil, UK

This type of cultural difference is not something that can be tolerated or allowed to spread into EU society
Jana, EU
Immediate deportation of all family members of anyone who is the victim of this type of murder. This type of cultural difference is not something that can be tolerated or allowed to spread into EU society. It must be stopped quickly and effectively.
Jana, EU

Honour killings - more like cold-blooded murder by cowards - are a cultural issue. You will not stop them unless there is a grassroots cultural change driven by high profile religious and political leaders in those communities. Who in those communities is brave enough to stand up against this?
Duncan, US

Honour killings should result in imprisonment and/or deportation for the entire family of those responsible. We must send a clear message that in the EU, this kind of thing is completely unacceptable.
Sasha, Amsterdam

This is a crime in every religion and for believers means that they will suffer for it in the afterlife
Keith L, Rayleigh, England
This assumption that anyone is locked into a culture or religion goes to the very heart of human rights. It assumes that men or women are born with a set of beliefs or values, but just as no one is born a Democrat or a Communist so no one is born into the values of a religion or culture with their human rights owned by someone else. I believe this is one of the most cruel and evil practices in the world today and is based on backward, primitive beliefs that men are in some way superior to women. This is in truth an act of dishonour, rooted in shame and cowardice, and it appears to me that those who commit such acts have so little confidence in themselves as men that they need to lift themselves up by beating down others. This is a crime in every religion and for believers means that they will suffer for it in the afterlife. It is also an act of murder.
Keith L, Rayleigh, England

Neither the police nor the government have done enough. It is an absolute disgrace that we have imported customs such as honour killing and female genital mutilation into this country. I never imagined that I would see such horrors here, nor see Britain play host to the sick cultures that indulge in them. Until we start recognising tyranny in non-white cultures as well as white, these crimes against humanity will continue under the auspices of "multiculturalism" and "cultural relativism".
John Keller, UK

Westerners don't understand the concept of honour
Ibrahim , London
This is a part of our culture! Westerners don't understand the concept of honour, and don't respect our ways. How can you say you're tolerant?
Ibrahim , London

If we are to be a truly multicultural society with equal opportunities than the leaders of all religions need to co-operate in promoting tolerance of individuals choices in the family and community, regardless of what they believe their religion may say. Education is required in communities on the merits of all religions, lifestyle choices and above all the civil liberties that bring us free choice as adults, male or female.
Tim, Nottingham, UK

To Ibrahim of London: the UK is a tolerant country in general. However it must be that all people of whichever creed or culture, if they wish to live here, must abide by UK laws. One of those says that the taking of life by another is murder. The only possible excuse is self-defence. You cannot justify murder just because someone else freely made a decision which you or the family do not like or agree with. "Respecting other cultures" has nothing to do with this - it is immutable.
Drew McMutrie, Livingston, Scotland

Anyone in favour of murder is bereft of honour in my eyes
Tina Hollands, London
Your respondent (Ibrahim) might be better advised to go to a country more congruent with his beliefs. He can then 'honourably' murder people until his heart's content. My concept of honour abhors murder, anyone in favour of murder is bereft of honour in my eyes.
Tina Hollands, London

To Ibrahim, London, below: no civilised society should tolerate murder (or arbitrary private summary executions). It's time to throw political correctness aside, and eradicate this cowardly and archaic practice. Human rights are for all, not just white non-Musilms.
Iain Nicholson, Human Race, Planet Earth

I just want to say honour killings have nohing to do with Islam and have no place in Islam. This awful practice is a tribal thing and I wish that was made very clear by all parties.
Khalid Bryce, London, UK

Life for 'honour killing'
07 Oct 03  |  London


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