Who are Britain’s Lost Women? Remembering the victims of honour killings.

Pavanpreet Ahmed is petitioning for a day to remember victims of honour killings, supported by Cosmopolitan and Karma Nirvana. Here’s why we’re backing Pav’s campaign…

Most of us take our freedom for granted. We spend every day making decisions about the way we lead our lives – from what we wear to the jobs we apply for, from who our friends are to who we go out with. But thousands of women and girls around the UK don’t enjoy these choices. And if they do dare to break their family’s rules or ‘honour’, they often face terrible repercussions, and in some cases, death.

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.

The victims of honour-based violence (HBV) are usually women and girls, as the men of the family seek to control their behaviour and curtail their freedom. Pavanpreet Ahmed was just seven-years-old when her father and grandmother arranged for her mum, Surjit, to be killed while she was on holiday. Why? Because her mum wanted a divorce. Another victim, Shafilea Ahmed, was killed in front of her other siblings by her own parents when she was just 17 – all because she had dishonoured the family by wanting to wear ‘western’ style clothing and mix with white friends. Girls who do not uphold the family’s ‘honour’ are often ‘dealt with’ by being forced into marriages, often to men they have never met, forced into a life they did not want for themselves.

Honour-based crimes are particularly difficult to tackle. The abuse takes place at home, behind closed doors, and victims are terrified of coming forward – fearful that the abuse will worsen, or that they might even be killed such are these families’ obsession with honour. This is why we – and Karma Nirvana who initiated the campaign – believe it’s vital to raise awareness of honour-based violence and forced marriage.

When an honour killing takes place, there is deadly silence in the communities where there ought to be an outcry. These are Britain’s lost women and we believe they must be remembered for the strong, beautiful women they once were. We will not allow them to be forgotten.

Please join us, and Karma Nirvana – who have been working on the frontline with these issues for many years – and pledge your support to remember Pav’s mum, and thousands of others like her.


A link to the article can be found here.