Education, Portrait

Campaigning against honour killings, by Cosmopolitan magazine

Image © Erin Mulvehil, courtsy Leo Burnett and Hearst Publishing

An estimated 141 women have been killed by their families in so-called honour killings in the UK over the last decade. Honour killings have been a long term campaign for Cosmopolitan magazine. But how do they capture such a complex issue through the format of magazine publishing?

Her sister Alesha, 15 at the time, told Chester Crown Court how her sister’s eyes: “Were wide in shock. She was kicking her legs as she struggled to breathe.”

The sitting judge, after the jury returned guilty verdicts, told her parents: “Your concern about being shamed in your community was greater than the love of your child.”

Shafilea Ahmed’s death is the most high-profile of an estimated 141 of so-called honour killings reported in the UK over the last decade. Last summer, forced marriage became illegal in England and Wales, punishable by up to seven years in prison.

But thousands of women, according to government figures, are still being beaten, abused and raped by their families in the name of honour. The government’s Forced Marriage Unit dealt with 1,302 possible cases of forced marriage last year – more than 80 per cent of them involving female victims.

Honour killings have been a long term campaign for the London-based fashion and lifestyle magazine Cosmopolitan. In 2010, the Hearst-owned publication partnered with the charity Karma Nirvana and the Henry Jackson Society to campaign for a national day of remembrance for the victims of honour killings.

They commissioned three advertising and creative agencies, and chose to work with Leo Burnett, the worldwide advertising agency founded in 1935 in Chicago by Leo Burnett, who created marketing campaigns including Tony the Tiger and the Marlboro Man. Cosmopolitan worked with the New York and London-based offices, whom employed, as part of the campaign, the Brooklyn-based photographer Erin Mulvehill.

Keep up-to-date with the leading voice in contemporary photography