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  • It's a riotous and colourful ceremony in Northern England, a Pakistani Muslim wedding. The nerves

  • are on show from the groom, Usman, as tradition collides with the new.

  • As is custom, bride to be Nagina sits in a separate room, and Imam Irfan Chishti asks

  • three times if she's marrying of her own free will.

  • "I have to ask you, under no force, no pressure, do you Nagina...

  • No pressure, despite Mum and Dad sitting alongside, and a phalanx of cameras hired to capture

  • every precious moment.

  • Marriage is a pact between freely consenting and equal partners -- something most would

  • take for granted in 21st century Britain - and yet as the ceremony unfolds, Imam Chishti

  • stresses the point about women's rights. "But if the lady, if the bride, if the woman,

  • if the wife, if she says no then it ain't happenin'. If she'd had turned round and said

  • to me I'm not happy for this wedding to take place, then it doesn't matter how much has

  • been spent on this afternoon, it doesn't matter what thousands or millions have been spent,

  • that consent of hers is the most important thing".

  • The wedding of Usman and Nagina certainly gives every appearance of a happy, mutually

  • agreed union.

  • But for many young British women in the country's Asian and Middle Eastern communities, that's

  • not the case. Partners are preordained by parents. A code of behaviour enforced, and

  • if daughters step out of line, consequences can be severe.

  • "There are probably between eight to ten thousand forced marriages or threats of forced marriage

  • in the UK every year. We prosecuted more than two hundred cases last year of honour based

  • violence. What we have here are crimes in the name of

  • the father, the son and the blessed male members of the family".

  • "I think people who do these actions know categorically that what they're doing is religiously

  • wrong. There isn't a misunderstanding of the faith.

  • What there is, is just themselves trying to justify their actions through the faith.

  • Perhaps we need to speak out more about it".

  • Violent crime resulting from the honour codes of ethnic communities is a major problem.

  • British authorities acknowledge they don't know the true scale of it.

  • "We have kidnappings, abductions, assaults, sexual offences -- you know, anything that

  • you could imagine could happen does happen in the name of honour.

  • The most extreme examples are homicide and we have perhaps ten to twelve of those in

  • the United Kingdom every year which are honour related".

  • These young British women were murdered in a perverse attempt to restore family honour.

  • Twenty seven year old Surjit Athwal killed on the orders of her mother-in-law.

  • Twenty year old Banaz Mahmod, raped and strangled on the orders of her father and uncle.

  • And seventeen year old Shafilea Ahmed, suffocated by her parents.

  • Shafilea had rejected her parent's choice of a Pakistani Muslim husband. She wanted

  • to be a lawyer and to make her own choices. Her parents decided she was shaming the family,

  • beat her frequently and finally forced a plastic bag down her

  • throat. Her siblings were made to watch as a warning to them. Family honour was paramount.

  • When Shafilea's body was found in a river, her parents put on tearful displays feigning

  • innocence and outrage. Years later one of Shafilea's sister's smashed

  • the parent's conspiracy by giving evidence against them and they were sentenced to long

  • jail terms. Shafilea's repeated pleas for help were ignored,

  • even a suicide attempt failed to convince police she was in desperate trouble.

  • "She couldn't be any clearer - and they failed her. And that is the story

  • of many of our victims here in Britain today. There are many Shafilea Ahmeds out there.

  • When somebody is murdered, for example -- and we've seen horrific murders here in

  • Britain -- Shafilea Ahmed was one -- there was a silence in that community. Where was

  • the outcry of people standing up and speaking out, and saying 'This is wrong.' Nobody is

  • doing this in the name of Islam. You know, we need to go out there and preach in our

  • communities not to do this to your children. That doesn't exist. Who is being silent? Who

  • is being...? Silent. Who is being silent? The people within our communities that are

  • being silent are those who commit these crimes, those who don't commit these crimes. So good

  • people are turning a blind eye. Our so-called community leaders. So they exist in the form

  • of a religious leader, a community leader, a councillor, a politician. They're the people.

  • And the ones who are breaking the silence are the victims themselves. Organisations

  • like us. We're the ones breaking the silence, but we do that at a cost.

  • Saturday night in Leeds, one of the biggest cities with a significant Asian population.

  • Teenagers flock to the city square, having fun. Many Asian girls don't enjoy these freedoms.

  • Some would even be barred from attending an event as benign as the annual light show,

  • restricted in what they can wear, whom they can talk to, where they can go.

  • "These teenagers, born here in Britain, have a life whereby the only place they have

  • independence and the right to think freely is in school. As soon as they go home and

  • the front door is closed, it's as if they're living in some rural part of Pakistan or India

  • even though they're living in Britain". More than four million people in England identify

  • as Asian, almost eight per cent of the population, predominantly from South Asia - India, Pakistan

  • and Bangladesh. In a recent survey of 500 young British people

  • from Asian backgrounds, two-thirds said families should live according to the concept of honour.

  • Almost one in five said physical punishment of women was justified for certain behaviours,

  • such as going out at night unaccompanied, dressing a certain way or wanting to marry

  • a man deemed unacceptable. And six per cent of the young men surveyed said, under certain

  • circumstances, honour killings could be justified. Changing deeply entrenched attitudes and practices

  • that subjugate women is not proving easy, and so law enforcement agencies are developing

  • more sophisticated approaches, starting with professionals who understand what drives honour

  • crimes. "At the moment in so many communities, in

  • so many families, it's merely used to suppress women, to oppress women. They are the only

  • ones that carry the honour on their family. So if they are perceived to have misbehaved

  • in some way or made their own choices, then they have dishonoured the family. If men do

  • the same, well it's men. You know, they can do what they like, and as I said, honour can

  • be good, a force for good -- regrettably it's been used too often to control women".

  • Nazir Afzal is the chief prosecutor in England's North West. He's a Muslim who makes a very

  • clear distinction between cultural practices and crime.

  • "Forced marriage is one of the last forms of slavery in the world. You can imagine total

  • and utter despair. So many of our victims of forced marriage will

  • harm themselves - will actually kill themselves - and that... because that's the only way

  • they can see out of this". From the law courts to the police beat, there's

  • a growing realisation that some Asian families and communities have been using their culture

  • as a shield to justify the notion that family honour can be regained by violence. "That

  • concept exists in every Asiatic mind, whether they be in Great Britain, whether

  • they be in Switzerland, whether they be in Pakistan... India -- wherever -- it's a concept.

  • It doesn't stop just because you have crossed a border".

  • Detective Constable Palbinder Singh is a Sikh who's helped crack some difficult honour crime cases.

  • I've always advocated to ignore cultural sensitivity.

  • It's a ruse. 'We won't interfere with that family, it's

  • their culture.' Well hang on a minute, crimes are being committed, people's lives are being

  • destroyed, people's freedoms are being suppressed. 'Oh but that's okay, that's their culture.'

  • Well, have you actually spoken to the people who've been denied these basic freedoms? And

  • that's the problem with this concept of diversity, it's now crossing over into political correctness

  • and it's simply not working". There is this mistaken perception that you

  • know it's culturally acceptable for forced marriage to happen, and police officers, along

  • with many of the professionals have been scared to address that issue, which is why we really

  • need to change that mindset and that moral blindness. How much does a fear of being called

  • racist play into it? I think it can play a big part. No police

  • officer or any other agency wants to be branded racist, but that's something we've absolutely

  • got to get past because we just have a clear duty to protect the victim and safeguard them.

  • Detective Sergeant Trudy Runham of the West Midlands Police has worked with many victims

  • of honour based violence and tries to educate other officers.

  • What we do know is that the rate of Asian females, their suicide rate is three times

  • higher than anybody else. That has been said to compare only to soldiers' suicide rate

  • coming back from Afghanistan, which obviously they're coming back from a war zone. So what

  • does that tell you about how these females in this case are feeling and self-harm is

  • absolutely a key indicator of these issues.

  • It was the horrific killing of Banaz Mahmod that catapulted honour crime into public consciousness

  • in Britain and exposed the failings of police. "On the fourth occasion she takes a list and

  • she names the people that are going to kill her. At the top of there is her father, her

  • uncle, other male members of the family, she said these are the people that are going to

  • kill me. If anything happens to me, these are the people who did it".

  • Banaz Mahmod was a young Muslim woman from an Iraqi Kurd background. She told police

  • her family was planning to kill her because she'd left an abusive arranged marriage and

  • was seen kissing a man outside a tube station. Months later, lying in a hospital emergency

  • room, she explained how her father had tried to kill her.

  • "And she was still not believed. She was dealt with as being melodramatic, fantasising".

  • Jasvinder Sanghera knows the horrors of honour violence. She knows that Banaz Mahmod should

  • have been saved and she needs these trainee detectives to know where police went wrong.

  • "Would you believe her? As a professional the response was surely not. You're not going

  • to be killed for being seen kissing a boy". Just a month later, the twenty year old was

  • dead. She'd been raped, garrotted, her body packed in a suitcase.

  • Her uncle and father were convicted of ordering the killing. Banaz's sister Bekhal gave evidence

  • against them. "And all I could say is devilish... that's all

  • I could say... nothing good. How could somebody think that kind of thing, and actually do

  • it to their own flesh and blood? Jasvinder Sanghera has a strong sense of the

  • suffering of Banaz and other victims because she narrowly escaped a forced marriage and

  • now campaigns against it. She was the sixth of seven daughters, plus

  • a much favoured son, raised in a close-knit Sikh community.

  • "This is the house that I grew up in and yeah this is the wall me and my sisters used to

  • sit on. My dad would be standing at the fence having his crafty cigarettes.

  • Today, looking at the house, I see nothing but pain in honesty. It's really an empty

  • shell for me now".

  • Jasvinder Sanghera describes a claustrophobic upbringing where girls lived by strict rules

  • or were claimed to bring shame on their family. One by one she saw her older sisters married

  • off, at about fourteen or fifteen years of age. "I watched at least three of my sisters

  • being taken out of school and then being taken abroad to marry a stranger. They'd disappear.

  • They'd come back as somebody's wife. Their appearance changed. They'd wear a wedding

  • ring on their finger and nobody was seeing this as abnormal, it

  • was just a normality".

  • When her sisters complained of beatings by their husbands, her mother

  • would insist their duty was to stay in the marriages.

  • Then one day after school, fourteen year old Jasvinder was shown a photo of the man her

  • parents declared she would marry. "And then she told me that I was promised

  • to him from the age of eight and I just looked at her, not taking it seriously.

  • I took an overdose and one of my sisters said 'If you think you're going to get out of it

  • that way, you've got another thing coming'. Everywhere I turned they were just sending

  • me back in and I felt isolated... suicidal. I felt completely trapped".

  • "The bedroom there with the window slightly ajar, is the room where my family locked me

  • in the room there when I said I wouldn't marry the person. They took me out of school and

  • I was held a prisoner in that room for a long time". "How long for?""I can't remember the