CHESHIRE’s police and crime commissioner has urged victims of ‘honour-based abuse’ to come forward on what would have been Shafilea Ahmed’s birthday.

The 17-year-old was murdered by her parents in 2003 in front of her siblings at the family home in Great Sankey in 2003.

Warrington Guardian:

Police searching the Ahmeds' home on Liverpool Road

Iftikhar and Farzana Ahmed believed that their daughter was becoming ‘too westernised’ and were angered that she had refused a forced marriage to her cousin in Pakistan.

They suffocated the Great Sankey High School and Priestley College student to death by forcing a plastic bag down her throat, with her body discovered in the Lake District five months later.

In 2012, the Ahmeds were convicted of murder and each jailed for a minimum of 25 years.

Warrington Guardian:

Iftikhar and Farzana Ahmed

The national Day of Memory is now held annual on July 14, Shafilea’s birthday, to remember those who have died in honour killings.

And on the day she would have turned 34, Cheshire PCC David Keane, his Merseyside counterpart Jane Kennedy and Liverpool metro mayor Steve Rotherham have today issued a joint statement alongside charity Savera UK on the subject of honour-based abuse.

This statement calls for the victims of such abuse to speak out, and for others to recognise the signs that somebody may be being abused.

Mr Keane said: “Shafilea Ahmed was a vibrant young woman with her whole life ahead of her, her senseless death affected people right across the world and still does to this day.

Warrington Guardian: Shafilea Ahmed

“One of my key policing priorities is to support victims and protect the vulnerable.

“All of us should be allowed the freedom to live our lives without fear of violence.

“I would urge anyone in Cheshire who either has been, or feels they may be, in danger of becoming a victim of so-called honour-based abuse, to speak to Cheshire Police – I can assure you that your concerns will be treated seriously and sensitively.

“So-called ‘honour’-based abuse is often referred to as a hidden crime, and if you feel that someone you know might be at risk please report it.

“I am committed to working with the chief constable to ensure we will continue to have a police service that is there to protect and serve everyone, especially those who are at risk of harm.”

On average, there are 12 reported honour killings each year in the UK while it is believed that many cases of abuse are not reported to police.

Savera UK chief executive and founder Afrah Qassim added: “Death or abuse should never be the price to pay for your freedom and right to choose.

“We are committed to eradicating these harmful practices for good, and we welcome the support of both the Merseyside and Cheshire police and crime commissioners and the metro mayor of the Liverpool City Region.

“Reporting figures may still be low and this is always a challenge, but every person who speaks out and gets help is a life saved.

“Far more people are reaching out to us for help than when Savera UK was established 10 years ago.

“It is only through continued education, awareness raising initiatives and collaborative working that we can encourage people at risk from honour-based abuse to speak out, so we can help them to find their savera – which means new beginning in Hindi.

“We invite other organisations, communities, politicians and individuals to join with us in supporting our statement and speaking out against this horrific practice.”