IN April this year, the mutilated body of Banaz Mahmoud Babakir Agha was found stuffed in a suitcase buried in a garden in Birmingham.
Police later recognised that she had been the victim of so-called honour killing.
The 20-year-old Kurd had sought help from the police at least five times, fearing that her life was in danger. But her concerns were ignored.
A conference organised by Iranian and international women's rights groups in south London on Friday stressed that Banaz was just one of thousands of women murdered each year in the name of "honour."
According to the UN, over 5,000 women and girls are killed every year by family members.
But the conference called this a "gross underestimation," citing Afghan women's groups which contend that at least 5,000 a year are dying in that country alone.
Women who resist forced marriage, flee abusive husbands, have sexual relations outside marriage or are even victims of rape are slain by their relatives for bringing "shame" on the family name.
The conference argued that the near-epidemic rise in honour killing and its spread to communities in Europe should be seen in the context of rampant globalisation and the "war on terror."
It rejected attempts to label honour killing as merely cultural without considering the backward political and socio-economic conditions on which such violent patriarchy thrives.
Veteran socialist writer Fateh Sheikh argued that the rise in these crimes were a result of the world "counter-revolutionary offensive" that has been stepped up since the collapse of the Soviet Union.
He explained that the wretched socio-economic conditions that are being imposed on large sections of the world's population had breathed new life into reactionary cultures and traditions that should have long been buried.
Iranian Association for Support of Women speaker Diba Alikhany, a psychologist, gave an eye-witness account of the extent of the problem in parts of Iran.
"Far from being recognised as a crime, honour killing is backed by the authorities as a family's right which should not be interfered with," she explained.
"We campaign to raise awareness among women about their rights through seminars and discussions, while challenging the legal system which condones these crimes of honour."
British-based Iranian and Kurdish Women's Rights Organisation (IKWRO) director Diana Nammi talked of the growing problem in Europe and Britain.
She accused the Establishment of giving lenient sentences to perpetrators on the basis that it is their "culture."
Over 180 women in Britain had sought help with the group in the past year, of which 14 "would have certainly been killed if we had not forced police to provide 24-hour protection," Ms Nammi said.
IKWRO is campaigning to raise awareness within the judicial system.
It is asking the British government to ensure that "service providers and front-line social workers are aware of the crime and have the necessary resources to support the victims."
Ms Nammi addded: "We also need effective legislation to prevent any reduction of charges being made in the name of culture, religion or nationality."
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