Police Call for Action to Stop 'Honour Killings' Social New Identity for Fleeing Women Could Save Hundreds of Lives

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Byline: By Catherine LiLLington Staff reporter

Calls from police chiefs to offer new identities to women fleeing the threat of so-called honour killings could potentially save hundreds of lives in Birmingham, according to a charity set up to help victims.

Jasvinder Sanghera, who set up Karma Nirvana after she survived a forced marriage, said she has to fight to get girls into a witness protection scheme and has not managed it yet.

The AssociationofChief Police Officers said the schemes should be opened to potential victims of family violence.

Ms Sanghera said: "I welcome the recommendation but this needs to be a must-do by police forces, not a should-do."

Victims fromthe Birminghamareamake up a high proportion of the charity's calls and staff believe they are just "the tip of the iceberg".

InJuly2007, IraqiKurd Mahmod Mahmod was jailed for life over the rape and torture of his 20-year-old daughter Banaz Mahmod, whose bodywas foundburied in a suitcase in a garden in Handsworth.

Her death was ordered after her affair with a fellow Kurd was discovered.

Ms Mahmod asked police for help four times but it was claimed she was not taken seriously.

Ms Sanghera said she tried to get witness protection for one young girl whose father threatened her with a firearm if she ran away from home.

She said: "He told her he would not be afraid to use it and she was openly telling the police 'I need witness protection'.

"As a result of that we've had to deal with it ourselves. We've changed her name by deed poll andmade her national insurance number casesensitive because we know families track these girls down through the numbers.

"Some girls stay and go through abusive situations because they don't have that protection sadly."

The recommendations come in the first strategy for tackling honour-based violence across England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Commander Steve Allen, of the Metropolitan Police, said up to 12 people weremurdered every year in the name of honour.

Police fear a further 500 people are forced into an arranged marriage and are raped, attacked or falsely imprisoned as a result.

Mr Allen said: "The police response to this issue has nothing to do with political correctness and nothing to do with inappropriate sensitivities.

"The police response is about saving life, protecting those at risk of harm and bringing perpetrators to account.

"We have an absolute duty to uphold the law and to protect the human rights of our fellow humanbeings. …