‘Honour’ crime: “We need to see this as abuse, call it out for what it is”

A charity campaigning for women’s rights is calling for all police forces across the UK to review their handling of honour-based violent crime. A report by the Iranian and Kurdish Women’s Rights Organisation claims one in five police forces are failing to report the crimes adequately, which puts more women at risk. These crimes include forced marriage, child marriage and female genital mutilation (FGM). Juliet Spare reports.

A new consultation document published by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary suggests crimes such as forced marriage and female genital mutilation are under-reported. This suggests these crimes are hidden from society’s view, putting more women and young girls at risk.

Police handling

Freedom of Information requests were sent by the Iranian and Kurdish Women’s Rights Organisation to every police force across the UK. Every force responded but not every force could show the full scale of honour-based violence in their area and 20 per cent failed to flag up the cases that were reported to them. A failure that the Iranian and Kurdish Women’s Rights Organisation charity says puts people’s lives at risk.

Sara Brown, campaign officer for the Iranian and Kurdish Women’s Rights Organisation, said: “We found that one in five police forces have not been recording honour based violence properly. It is essential police can properly protect victims nationally and have a structure in place to prevent it. Data is so important – for many reasons. We must remember that with this kind of issue is underreported. We need to tackle the issue of training and understand issue in the first place.”

“Form of control”

The report shows that some police forces, such as the Metropolitan Police, classify forced marriage cases separately from honour crimes. Under guidelines issued in 2008 from the Association of Chief Police Officers, the term ‘honour’-based violence should include forced marriage and female genital mutilation.

“Honour based violence includes where a family and community want to control mainly women – but men can also be affected – where they step out of the honour code. It’s a form of control. Acid attacks, imprisoning people and other forms of control. The worst thing that can happen is honour killing and we need to avoid that.

“Honour-based violence takes place where the collective is above the individual. We work with women from the Middle East and North Africa. It affects mainly Asian communities in the UK. Indian and Pakistani communities are particularly affected.

“Since the charity was founded 11 years ago there has been a lot of progress. We do continue all the time that the police and the government are fearful about saying something that might offence. We need to put human rights of those women first and see this as abuse. Call is out for what it is. This is a matter of protecting people.”

Along with forced marriage, and child marriage, FGM, which is the removal or partial removal of the external female genital organs, is illegal in the UK. It’s thought 170,000 females are living with FGM in Britain. But still, no one has been prosecuted. Today marks International Day of Zero Tolerance to FGM.

A link to the article can be found here.