Denmark: Police getting handle on "honor" killings

Police in Denmark are making a concerted effort to stop honour killings through preventive measures

The phenomenon of honour killing has made its way from Asia and Africa into Denmark in recent years through immigrant families from those continents. But police are doing their part to stop the violence before it begins by taking a more preventive approach, encouraging threatened young people to come forward and then communicating with the family members.

An honour-related crime database was established by the National Police in August 2006, and they have since issued a manual to officers on how they should react in such cases. The database was set up following the Ghazala case, where a father ordered his son to kill his sister and her boyfriend.

The National Police has received 154 reports of honour-related threats and violence since last August, a figure Kim Kliver, head of the National Police's Domestic Investigative Centre, said shows that the victims - usually young women - are reporting the problem more often and that the issue is being brought out into the open.

'The victims want police to get involved from the beginning, which is a vote of confidence for us,' Kliver told Urban newspaper. 'And the sooner we can address the situation the better.'

Just this past week, a Turkish man living in Denmark was charged with stabbing his daughter and her boyfriend, whom the father found unsuitable. But while murder and attempted murder make the headlines, Kliver said codes of honour among families range from violent acts down to threats.

'Most cases are at minimum verbal threats, but taking preventive measures - such as speaking to the families - is for us just as important and solving a crime that's already been committed,' said Kliver.

Manu Sareen, Copenhagen city council member and integration consultant, said he has experienced an increasing number of honour-related violence cases.

'It may just be that more reports are being made and girls are gaining confidence in the authorities,' he said. 'The Gualala case was unfortunate because it demonstrated police were at a loss in those situations. But today the officers know how to handle these cases, and that's sensational.'

Kliver is convinced that as more women report the problem, the incident rate will fall.
'We can always protect a daughter from her family, but it's usually at great costs to the girl. That's why it's so important for us to act preventively.'

Source: Copenhagen Post (English)

See also: Denmark: Police following up on "honor" related crimes, Denmark: fighting honor crimes, Denmark: Muslim women hide rape


Anonymous said...

Well, bravo to the Denmark police for taking these threats seriously and for doing their best to be proactive.

I'm particularly interested in the figure of 154 reports nationally in less than a year, since it gives an idea of the scale of the problem in Denmark. I've long suspected the figures coming out of some of the countries where these crimes originate are vastly understated, and this 154 number supports my contention.

Ellen R. Sheeley, Author
"Reclaiming Honor in Jordan"
(Available on the American version of

Esther said...

Hi Ellen,

I could try looking up other statistics. Please be in touch with me.

As for what you write - Another article reported 50 cases in 2.5 months (June-August 2006).

Anonymous said...

Well, that's interesting. In 2000, the U.N. estimated 5,000 cases globally per annum. I've not seen a breakdown by country. . .just individual countries reporting their estimates.

I tend to put more faith in the statistics coming from people who have no agenda, no reason to fudge, and out of countries that operate with accountability and transparency than those under autocratic rule. And the nature of the crimes themselves makes it difficult to keep an accurate count. In many cases, girls/women just "disappear" (e.g., move abroad), or their deaths are disguised as accidents or suicides.

I conducted a nationwide attitude and opinion survey on "honor" killings in Jordan. I wasn't trying to do a body count, but anecdotally, my survey respondents told me of so many cases they knew about first hand that were never reported in the news. I came to believe the "official" counts are understated by quite a bit.