Dr Alan Billings, South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner will be supporting the annual day of memory for victims of honour based violence and forced marriage.

The day of memory is a campaign arranged by Karma Nirvana, a UK registered charity that supports both victims and survivors who have experienced abuse at the hands of their own families.  The Commissioner will be supporting their social media campaign aimed at remembering one high profile victim from Warrington, Shafilea Ahmed, who sadly lost her life at the hands of her parents.  Both parents were sentenced in August 2012 to a minimum of 25-years imprisonment each after a judge found them both guilty of her murder.

Dr Billings said: “Nobody should be made to suffer in any way at the hands of another.  Violence on any person is abhorrent, but to understand that family members put their own status in the community before the welfare of their children and loved ones is very difficult to comprehend.

“I was a vicar in Kendal at the time of Shafilea’s disappearance and we were horrified when her body was found by the River Kent which ran through my parish.

“Protecting vulnerable people is a key priority in my police and crime plan and I will work closely with South Yorkshire Police to ensure that everyone in South Yorkshire has the protection they deserve to keep them safe.”

Honour based violence is the abuse an individual carries out to protect the honour of the family or community.  Violence occurs when one family member may be seen to break the rules of the culture by starting a friendship with somebody their family does not approve of or if they are refusing to enter in to a forced marriage.

The Commissioner continued: “I fully appreciate the diversity of South Yorkshire and embrace the cultures living within our communities in harmony.  I will however not tolerate anyone using their own cultural beliefs as an excuse to break the law.  Forced marriage and honour based violence are a crime here in the United Kingdom and anyone found to be inflicting pain will be brought to justice.”

The Karma Nirvana campaign is asking for people to raise awareness of the issues of honour-based violence and forced marriage by using social media platforms and retweeting messages using the hashtag  #remembershafilea.