Savera UK to remember victims of ‘honour’ killings at Pier Head

Representatives from Savera UK, a leading charity tackling ‘honour’-based abuse (HBA) and harmful practices, are set to mark the annual “Day of Memory” for those lost to ‘honour’ killings and ‘honour’-based abuse with a ribbon-tying ceremony at Liverpool’s Pier Head (4:30pm – 5:30pm).

The short ceremony will begin at 4:30pm with introductions and speeches from Savera UK Chair, Aislinn O’Dwyer, CEO and Founder, Afrah Qassim and Merseyside’s Police’s Violence against Women and Girls (VAWG) lead Chief Superintendent, Ngaire Waine.

An estimated 12 – 15 ‘honour’ killings take place each year in the UK, yet the figure for this ‘hidden’ crime is just the tip of the iceberg, due to under-reporting of HBA and harmful practices such as female genital mutilation (FGM) and forced/child marriage, and a lack of understanding about these issues.

Attendees at the ceremony will be invited to tie orange ribbons to railings at the city’s Pier Head as a mark of remembrance for those lost, to signify a brighter future for a world where HBA and harmful practices no longer exist and to symbolise hope for survivors who have made the brave decision to flee and find their new beginning.

Ayo Folarin, a member of the Savera UK Youth Advisory Board (YAB), will also perform poetry written by the organisation’s youth representatives, after a minute’s silence is held to remember those lost to ‘honour’ killings.

After the ceremony, members of the Savera UK team will be available to discuss the charity’s work and the issues it tackles with members of the public.

Speaking ahead of the Day of Memory, Afrah Qassim said: “It is vitally important that we use this day to not just remember those lost to ‘honour’ killings but also those whose lives are or could be affected by ‘honour’-based abuse. HBA is a hidden crime and one that is often forgotten or not afforded the same level of visibility as other forms of abuse or violence. 

“HBA can affect anyone, regardless of background, culture, age, sexuality or gender identity. This is why Savera UK exists – to support those at risk, to educate people around these issues and work toward eradicating harmful practices for good. We remember those lost, we see those who are affected and we will do whatever it takes to help them find their savera, which means ‘new beginning’ in Hindi.”

Afrah recently won the “Women of Courage” award at the Merseyside Women of the Year awards. She was recognised at the annual event for her work establishing the charity and extending the support provided regionally via its one-to-one services and nationally via the charity’s helpline. 

The national Day of Memory is held annually on July 14th to remember those lost to ‘honour’ killings and HBA. The date was Warrington teenager Shafilea Ahmed’s birthday, but in 2003,17-year-old Shafilea was murdered by her parents for refusing a forced marriage and becoming ‘too westernised’, in the eyes of her family and community.