My mother was murdered when I was seven-years-old. She was lured to India from the UK thinking she was going to a family wedding and then killed by hit men ordered by my dad and grandma. They had her murdered because she had asked for a divorce.
Every year British women like my mum are killed out of fear of shaming their families. Nobody knows how many because honour-based crime is so secretive – it happens behind closed doors, among families who will stop at nothing to protect their family’s ‘honour’.
I think about my mum every single day. She was forced into her marriage at the age of 16, and gathered the courage to try to leave because she was so unhappy. Right now, thousands of British women and girls live in fear of their families. They are intimidated, attacked, forced into marriages against their will and in the worst cases, like my mother, killed. All these women want to do is have a say in how they lead their lives.
We got justice in the end – my dad and grandma are now serving life in prison for murder. But with honour-based violence, the families want to wipe out any trace of the victim – my grandma and dad told us my mum had run off with another man. They tried to make us forget about her when in fact, they’d ordered her killing.
I want women like my mum to be remembered for the courageous individuals they were. It’s not right for them to be forgotten – erased from history, just as their families wanted. I want a day for us to remember them, and remind everyone – teachers, police, doctors – that honour-based violence is a terrible crime that needs to be stopped. That's why I'm backing Karma Nirvana's call for a national day of remembrance for those women who lost their lives to honour based violence. Creating an awareness day is often the first step to creating change in society, by confronting the issue and acknowledging that it is happening.
If there had been more awareness then maybe my mum would have known where to go to for help when she wanted to leave my dad. This day will encourage those who are suffering to reach out and tell somebody – to get help before it’s too late.
Tell David Cameron to show he is serious about putting an end to honour-based violence and make sure the women we have lost are not wiped from history.
Anyone seeking help should contact www.karmanirvana.org.uk
Read more about the campaign at www.cosmopolitan.co.uk/britainslostwomen