The February Edition of Cosmopolitan is unlike anything else you’ll see on newsagents shelves. The point of it all? To highlight the horrifying practice of honour killings.
The cover, available only in limited editions, is an immediate shock, depicting a woman suffocating in the plastic sleeve. The only piece of writing besides the magazine’s pink header is found near the left hand bottom corner: “Remember the British girls who have lost their lives through honour killings. Help us break the silence at karmanirvana.co.uk.”
Honour killings occur when a person is killed by their relatives for bringing shame upon their family. Women are the overwhelming majority of victims in honour killings and Karma Nirvana is a UK charity that seeks to help victims of such violence. This week the Henry Jackson Society, a think tank, published a report into honour-based violence and found that the UK government was letting down communities where this violence persists. Community support groups do not get long-term funding and the education in schools is minimal. 29 cases have been reported in UK media in the last five years, but it is thought among agencies and experts the actual number is much higher.
The Cosmopolitan image and accompanying short video was created by designer Leo Burnett while Erin Mulvehill was the photographer. The sobering cover is a direct reference to the high-profile murder of British Pakistani woman Shafilea Ahmed in 2003. She was 17-years-old and had refused to enter into an arranged marriage. She was killed by her parents, suffocated in front of her siblings. Her parents are now serving long sentences in prison.
Cosmopolitan is continuing its partnership with Karma Nirvana with a planned inaugural Day of Memory for Britain’s Lost Women on July 14, which Adweek.com points out is Shafilea Ahmed’s birthday.
Follow Jeanne Sutton on Twitter @jeannedesutun