Netherlands: 13 honor murders a year

Netherlands: 13 honor murders a year

About 13 people are killed in the Netherlands in honor murders every year, according to new figures from the police, reports De Pers.

By definition it is difficult to get data about honor murders. A murder case can look like a fight about drugs, but only after further inspection it turns out to be about insulting family honor.

When honor is the issue, for example, when the daughter acts 'licentiously' or a wife wants to leave her husband, honor has to be restored, via exclusion, forced marriage or violence if need be. Because the motive is the deciding factor in whether it's honor murder, there's always a subjective element.

But the figures are still shocking: The police recorded 13 cases in 2009 or murder or manslaughter where all the evidence pointed to honor murder.

This is not an outlier. In 2008 there were 11 murders, and 13 in 2007. Moreover, there were attempts to murder and suicide under pressure by the family. It's not 100% certain that all were honor murders, but it's a good indication.

The police National Expertise Center on Honor Related Violence worked hard on establishing a good system for registration. "Red flags" and checklists ensure that honor-related violence is recognized quickly.

Last year there were 445 incidents in total, less than in 2008 (553) and 2007 (493). Threats and abuse are most common. Immigrants of Turkish and Kurdish origin are responsible for most cases, followed by Moroccans, Iraqis and Afghans.

Honor murders are high on the political agenda ever since former minister Verdonk. The social services and police collaborate better and the cultural background of a crime is not a mitigating factor for the prosecution.

But the sheltering of women who fear for their lives is still a serious problem. The two special shelters, which are guarded 24 hours a day, a currently overcrowded.

Anke van Dijke, director of Fier Fryslân, says they had to reject girls who were threatened. In the past half year they helped 22 people, but had to turn away 31.

She points out to a new development: they now get couples. For example, a pregnant girl and her boyfriend, both seriously threatened by their families. She was already married off in Morocco.

In April the number of places subsidized by the ministry increased from eight to ten, but it's still not enough, according to Van Dijke. As long as they have to refuse girls, there are not enough places in the shelter. Because the youth services don't know enough about this problem.

The other shelter, of the Kompaan and De Bocht foundations, is also full, says administrator Lian Smits. But they always care for emergency solutions, the latest being a mother with three children.

Source: De Pers (Dutch)