The murder of the teenager Shafilea Ahmed is likely to stand out in British history as a particularly gruesome example of what we now refer to as "honour killings". Shafilea had warned that her parents were trying to marry her off to Pakistan; others knew she had sustained injuries from beatings by her parents; she had even tried to commit suicide in Pakistan. But right until the end, her own life was fated to be out of her control - she went missing in 2003 and her dismembered body was found a year later.

Shafilea's case wasn't a one-off. It took eight years for the murderers of the Sikh woman Surjit Athwal - her own husband and mother-in-law - to be brought to justice in 2007. It took ten years for Mehmet Goren to be jailed, in 2009, for murdering his daughter Tulay, because she fell in love with an older man of a different Muslim sect. Last year Gurmeet Singh Ubhi was found guilty of murdering his 24 year old daughter Amrit because the Sikh girl was dating a white man. There are others too - Heshu Yones, Banaz Mahmod, Nuziat Khan - the list of women murdered in the UK over their "honour" is depressingly long.

Any decent person would be angry and sad when presented with these names. But it isn't enough to be sad: we have become complicit in this epidemic of abuse and violence by not doing more to challenge it. This should be a left-wing cause célèbre but instead there is an embarrassed silence. Left-wing activists robustly challenge racism and homophobia - so why isn't more being done to stand up to this social evil?
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Iftikhar Ahmed, 52, and his wife Farzana, 49, were told at Chester Crown Court in Cheshire, north-west England, that they would serve a minimum of 25 years each after suffocating their 17-year-old daughter Shafilea in 2003.

In a high-profile case, Shafilea's sister Alesha had told the jury that her mother had said, "Just finish it here," as they forced a plastic bag into Shafilea's mouth in front of their other children.

Prosecutors said the Ahmeds, who lived in the town of Warrington, near Chester, killed their daughter because they felt her "western" habits such as wearing make-up and talking to boys brought shame on the family.

Passing sentence, judge Roderick Evans told the pair: "Your concern about being shamed in your community was greater than the love of your child.

"Shafilea was a determined, able and ambitious girl who wanted to live a life which was normal in the country and in the town in which you had chosen to live," he said.

"You could not tolerate the life that Shafilea wanted to live. You wanted your family to live in Pakistan in Warrington.

"She was being squeezed between two cultures -- the culture and way of life that she saw around her and wanted to embrace, and the culture and way of life you wanted to impose on her."