Is HBV an issue in NZ?

The problem of threats, intimidation, physical harm and ‘honour killing’ on religious grounds is a worldwide issue across many religions. In non-Islamic (secular) and multi-cultural countries like New Zealand there is more exposure to other cultures and opportunity for Muslims to stray from the ‘right path’ in one way or another. Many Muslim communities are largely (but not exclusively) composed of first, second or third generation immigrants from Islamic countries, and they tend to be quite insular in their attitudes – the religion requires this.

The culture, attitudes and adherence to Sharia law (to varying degrees) are imported. While there are some in the younger generations who rebel, many try to adhere strictly to the rules to retain their sense of cultural identity. The older generations very much tend to toe the line and see themselves as enforcers. The perpetrators of Honour Based Violence (HBV) are usually family members. One recent case that has been well documented and analysed was that of Banaz Mahmod in South West London, UK (2006). It is worth taking an hour to view this YouTube documentary by Fuuse Films. We trust that the UK police have learned from their mistakes and that the NZ Police can also learn from this.

The UK Police estimate that there are around 12 honour killings per year there. The BBC and The Independent Newspaper report that there are about 3,000 HBV incidents per year in Britain (est. from UK Police). The Honour Based Violence Awareness Network reports that problem in Australia and New Zealand is not yet fully recognised and the scale of the problem here is currently unknown.

Immigrants of all kinds from around the world tend to come to New Zealand to escape from something whether that be political instability, corruption, poverty, family pressures or extreme competition within society. However, given that in many respects New Zealand is a little Britain. It should be expected that the HBV problem exists, it has simply not been recognised or reported widely yet. There is no reason that NZ should be immune to this. We have Muslims here from similar ethnic backgrounds, traditions and indoctrination – so it would be reasonable to assume that HBV in NZ is occurring (and in fact this author has been a victim).

According to the Pew Forum, as at 2010 there were approximately 2.87 million Muslims living in Britain and in 2013NZ only has around 45,000 (interpolating between 2010 and 2020 figs), i.e. 64 times smaller. The 2013 NZ Census data gave a figure of approx 46,000. So we should expect fewer problems in numerical terms, but that does not means those problems are necessarily any less serious for those affected. Assuming that HBV occurs at a similar rate in NZ, then we can expect about 30 HBV incidents per year and one killing approximately every 5.7 years. Regrettably, this is likely to grow, along with the size of the Muslim population.

The table below shows statistics for Honour Based Violence (HBV – all types) and Honour Killings (HK). The figures for NZ are current estimates extrapolated from the UK figures.

 HBV      HK
 Global 1m+ 5,000
 UK 3,000  12
 NZ     30? 0.2?

The Pew Forum predicts that by 2030 the Muslim population in NZ will more than double (in line with growth around the world). So it might be reasonable to assume that the incidence of HBV will also double – unless we do something about it.

Hard statistics for the incidence of HBV in NZ do not yet seem to be available. Various NZ organisations are working on this including Shakti Community Council. It would seem that numerically, the numbers are relatively low in NZ compared to other parts of the world. But it certainly occurs here, and it’s primarily (but not exclusively) a Muslim thing.

One of the purposes of our group and this website is to determine the scale of the problem in NZ. Part of the difficulty lies in the fact that HBV typically goes unreported by the victims because they are living in fear.

NZ professionals dealing with Domestic Violence need to get up to speed with what is occurring in the UK and learn from it, but it would seem that numerically HBV or HK is a comparatively minor issue in NZ relative to the general levels of domestic violence that hit the local headlines regularly.

One final point … physical HBV or ‘honour’ killing does not actually need to occur here in NZ to result in real victims of terror in NZ. The fact that thousands of women, mainly, are killed or maimed annually worldwide, is real enough to ensure that threats are effective in similar types of ethnic and ideological communities wherever they are. The Internet, telephone and international travel mean that ‘Communities’ and families are no longer constrained by geographical boundaries. What happens overseas has a clear and direct psychological impact on people here in NZ. Please view this useful talk by Kwame Anthony Appiah (author of The Honor Code: How moral revolutions happen) and especially note his points at the 20-21 minute mark.

Further Reading

New UK domestic violence definition includes coercive control

New Zealand Police – Family violence policy and procedures  An 86 page document, which contains a section specifically on HBV.
One Law for All – a campaign in the UK to highlight the current situation with many Muslims effectively living under Sharia law within the UK. The Sharia legal system operates quite openly in the UK, it is more covert in NZ.
Forced marriage is starting to become an issue in NZ. There is still limited hard data on this issue but Shakti are working on this. Take a look at the NZ Herald article and UNICEF comment. It is not purely a Muslim/Islamic issue, but this is commonly the case. The numbers are low in NZ, but no forced marriage is acceptable.

Worldwide Trends in Honour Killings, Middle East Quarterly, Spring 2010. Note the Methodology section at the end which summarises many of the findings. Worldwide 91% of the perpetrators are Muslim, rising to 96% in Europe. 93% of the victims are female. There is an escalation over time (probably associated with growing population size).