A UKIP MEP has launched a petition calling on the BBC to stop using the term “honour killings” and instead name the crimes as “murder”, arguing that not causing offence to minority groups is far less important than the lives of abused women.
The BBC consistently refers to murders in which the victims are Muslims, usually girls, killed by members of their family for perceived slights against Islamic cultural codes as “honour killings” or “so-called honour killings”.
The BBC defines an honour crime in its ethics guide as that involving “violence, including murder, committed by people who want to defend the reputation of their family or community”.
It adds: “Honour killing is the murder of a person accused of bringing shame upon his or her family,” and notes that “In many instances, the crimes are committed by family members against a female relative.”
But UKIP MEP Jane Collins has called on the BBC to drop the term altogether, arguing that any unlawful death, whether within the Muslim community or otherwise, should always be referred to as murder.
Collins has launched a petition so that others may add their voices to the call for ending the use of the term. Highlighting that the issue isn’t one which only affects Muslim girls, yesterday Sarah Wilson, a victim of child sexual exploitation at the hands of Muslim gangs in Rotherham, whose sister was killed by her Muslim boyfriend, added her name to the list of signatories.
“To use the term ‘honour killing’ when describing the murder of a family member – overwhelmingly females – due to the perpetrators’ believe that they have brought ‘shame’ on a family normalises murder for cultural reasons and sets it apart from other killings when there should be no distinction,” the petition reads.
“Murder is murder, whether it be for cultural excuses or others. The term ‘honour killing’ is a euphemism for a brutal murder based on cultural beliefs which have no place in Britain or anywhere else in the world.”
In its style guide the BBC instructs its journalists to “attribute this phrase, either by use of quotes – ‘honour killings’ – or saying so-called honour killings”.
But Ms. Collins argues that using the word “honour” in conjunction with these murders links in the audience’s mind a sense that the killings are done for honourable purposes.
Commenting on why she was moved to created the petition, she told Breitbart London: “I started this petition because it makes me sick to my stomach to hear the chilling murder of young women linked with the word ‘honour’. It is the opposite of honourable, it is weak, spineless, oppressive killing of women often ganged up on by whole family groups who seem to think they own her.
“If the BBC think that there is anything honourable in the brutal torture and murder of predominantly women for cultural reasons then they need to look at their values and conscience. I hope they would put the equality of women and their right to have a life higher than not offending certain minority groups in this country.”
In 2013 the BBC came under fire when it cut a line from a radio 4 play about honour killings, which it said suggested that the Muslim community at large condoned the practice.
The play, by Gurpreet Kaur Bhatti, followed an investigation into the murder of a 16-year-old Muslim girl, who turns out to be the victim of an honour killing.
Speaking about the line cut during a conference on censorship, Ms. Bhatti explained: “At the end, a character says: ‘There is so much pressure in our community, to look right and to behave right’. The compliance department came back and said, ‘we don’t want to suggest the entire Muslim community condones honour killings.’”
Arguing that the line was a “crucial part of the story,” Ms. Bhatti said: “It’s an extraordinary and awful situation. They said the lines were offensive but they absolutely were not. We live in a fear-ridden culture.”