Remembering those who have been killed in the name of ‘honour’ is the focus of a National Day of Memory on Sunday July 14th. The day is being supported by Avon and Somerset Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Sue Mountstevens.
Although reports are increasing, the true scale of HBA and forced marriage (FM) is unknown due to the hidden nature of the crime.
PCC Sue Mountstevens said: “We need to continue to talk about and raise awareness of honour-based abuse and forced marriage. Often the victims of these crimes are the most isolated and marginalised in our community and we need to give them the confidence to speak out and get help.
“We must remember that there is no honour in killing and crimes that cause unnecessary suffering and undermine fundamental rights. The Constabulary and I continue to work closely with partners to understand the true picture of honour-based abuse and forced marriage in our area, including working with our communities to signpost to local and national support services who can offer help and advice.”
DCI James Raphael said: “The Day of Memory highlights why it is so important to tackle HBA and forced marriage. We need to continue to give victims the confidence to speak out and protect those who come forward.
“We work with local charities like Nextlink and training and collaborations with national partners means we’re better equipped to stop further suffering ensure those responsible are stopped.
“Sadly, this is type of offending remains hidden, happening behind closed doors and victims are terrified to come forward. I want victims to know there’s support and help available, regardless of whether or not you choose to report your experience to the police. Over time, the abuse will escalate, it will not stop so the sooner they get help the better.
To mark the National Day of Remembrance, the PCC spoke to Punita Bassi from Avon and Somerset Police about honour-based abuse, how it affects men and women and how local people can support victims. To watch the Q&A, visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2jVp05bl7cE or to read the blog visit: https://www.avonandsomerset-pcc.gov.uk/Your-PCC/PCC-Blog/2019/July/What-is-honour-based-abuse.aspx
What is honour-based abuse?
Honour-based abuse (HBA) is any practice used to control behaviour within families to protect perceived cultural and religious beliefs and/or ‘honour’. It is a violation of human rights and is a serious crime.
Examples of HBA includes intimidation, rape, assault, abduction, domestic abuse, physical, sexual, financial, emotional or psychological abuse, forced marriage (FM) – where you’re not given a choice if you want to marry a person – and murder.
What can be done if you are at risk of HBA or FM?
As of June 2014 it became a crime to force someone to marry against their will. This is very different to arranged marriage which is a cultural practice, which is not unlawful, and involves the consent of both spouses. Forcing someone to marry can result in a sentence of up to seven years in prison.
The police can also apply for Forced Marriage Protection Orders (FMPOs) to safeguard victims or potential victims and to put legally binding conditions on those involved in trying to force another person to marry. Anyone breaching a Forced Marriage Protection Order faces up to five years in prison.
Across Avon and Somerset, Lighthouse Victim and Witness Care teams work closely with victims of HBA and forced marriage to provide them with support to cope and recover from their experience.
Lighthouse was set up jointly by the PCC and Avon and Somerset Police and sees teams of staff from the police and victim support organisations working together to guide, advise and support victims and witnesses from the initial reporting of a crime and throughout the criminal justice process.
You can find out more about Lighthouse and the services they can provide at www.lighthousevictimcare.org
What to do if you need help?
If you feel you are at risk of HBA and you’d like to speak to the police, please call 999 if you are in immediate danger or 101 to talk to someone. However, if making contact online is the safest way for you to get in touch visit www.avonandsomerset.police.uk.
Alternatively, contact the Forced Marriage Unit on their 24/7 helpline 0207 008 0151 or visit https://www.gov.uk/guidance/forced-marriage
You can also speak to a support worker from NextLink via Livechat on their website – www.forcedmarriageadvice.co.uk/contact-us/ (available Monday to Friday, 1pm-5.30pm) or please call 0117 9250680.
Karma Nirvana are a national charity supporting victims of honour-based abuse, forced marriage and disownment and you can call their confidential helpline on 0800 599 9247.