Whole communities are involved in assisting and covering up "honour violence" in Britain, a new study says.
Informal networks of taxi drivers, councillors and sometimes even police officers track down and return women who try to escape, researchers claim.
A report by the Centre for Social Cohesion - an offshoot of the right-wing think-tank Civitas, whose advisors include the former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey and the Labour backbencher Frank Field - alleges that the problem exists in the country's Muslim, Sikh and Hindu communities, even among second-generation immigrants.
Women have been raped, abused and even killed for forming "inappropriate" relationships or merely for wanting to go to university. The report found that:
• Women may be attacked for nothing more than listening to western music
• Families have imported brides to work in prostitution
• Local authorities are not acting because of "political correctness" and a fear of being accused of racism.
Many South Asian men brought up in this country want to marry uneducated women, known as "freshies", who are "uncontaminated" by ideas of female independence, the report, published tomorrow says.
It comes days after Vernon Coaker, a Home Office minister, disclosed that the Government's forced marriage unit dealt with 400 cases last year.
Ann Cryer, the Labour MP for Keighley, welcomed the findings. "In most communities people will condemn domestic violence, but in Asian communities, the religious and secular leaders are either turning a blind eye or actually condoning it," she said.
Nazir Afzal, the lead on honour-based violence for the Crown Prosecution Service, said that the problem was particularly acute in areas where Islamic extremist groups were active.
He said that the problem was so deeply buried in these communities that the police were having to resort to unusual tactics to tackle it.
"We are now using techniques usually used to fight organised crime to tackle this. We're using covert officers, listening devices and other methods," he said.
Following the murder of Banaz Mahmod, a Kurdish woman who had pleaded with police to protect her against her family in south London, Mr Afzal said that "substantial numbers of the community actually did not assist and support prosecutors. Instead they supported the family members who were responsible for the killing".
He said: "In some northern towns there are real horror stories - from places like Blackburn where people say that you might as well be in rural Kashmir for all the way that women are seen and treated."
One woman every month is the victim of an "honour" killing, the CPS says.
"This has been a silent and invisible practice for too long," says Shahien Taj, the director of the Henna Foundation, a women's group based in Cardiff.
Source: Telegraph (English)
See also: UK: Islamist terror linked to "honor" murders, Crimes of the Community report (PDF)