UK: Kurdish woman murdered in the UK in the name of 'honour'

Combating "Honour" Based Violence Forum
Father and uncle found guilty in criminal court for the murder of 20-year-old Banaz Mahmod Babakir Agha.
Today the murder of the 20 year old Kurdish woman, Banaz Mahmod Babakir Agha, has been disclosed as another instance of honour based violence in the UK.
Banaz's father, Mahmod Mahmod Babakir Agha, and her uncle, Ari Mahmod Babakir Agha, were found guilty in the central Criminal Court in Old Bailey today for the murder of Banaz in the name of so-called ‘honour’. Sixteen other people were arrested and released on police bail while inquiries continue.

Banaz disappeared in January 2006 from Mitcham, in south London. The Kurdish woman’s body was discovered in a suitcase during a property search in Birminghamin in April 2006.

After the body was found, many women's organisations who gathered in a Public meeting at Conway Hall in May 2006 suspected that the murder had been committed to ‘defend family honour’. This theory has proved to be correct by today's verdict.

A Forum comprised of the Middle Eastern, Asian, and Kurdish women's rights organisations was announced after the killing of Banaz. Many women's organisations have stated that a collective effort has to be made to tackle these horrific crimes, and Forum seeks to do this. These organisations have reaffirmed the need to raise awareness within BME communities and empower young women and men to step forward if they sense any danger to young women.

The Combating "Honour" Based Violence Forum supports that a great deal of training should be provided to the police force and front line workers in order to raise their awareness about the cultural elements that are putting women's lives in serious danger. In Banaz's case, police forces were unresponsive to her claims in the months prior to her murder, when she told the authorities that she had been repeatedly threatened by male family members and was in imminent danger. By disregarding Banaz's claims, the police have proven to be unaware of the great risk that potential victims of "honour" based violence are facing.

Today at the Old Bailey a number of representatives of women's organisations in the Combating “Honour” based Violence Forum was present for comments on this case to the press.

The Forum will organise two events; a public memoriam will be held on 21st June 2007 and a casework seminar will be organised in mid-July 2007 in order to review in detail the Banaz case and how short-comings in police response can be improved for the future prevention of "honour" based violence. This seminar will be held with participation by the police force and other service providers, in order to educate these sectors on the reality of "honour" based violence, how to deal with it, and what lessons can be learned from the death of Banaz.

11th June 2007
Combating "Honour" Based Violence Forum