Remembering those who have been killed in the name of ‘honour’ is the focus of a National Day of Memory on Saturday July 14th
, being supported by Avon and Somerset Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Sue Mountstevens and Avon and Somerset Police.
Avon and Somerset Constabulary’s data suggests that there are on average six cases of honour-based abuse (HBA) reported a month, but the true scale of HBA and forced marriage (FM) across the force area is unknown due to the hidden nature of the crime.
Since April 2017, there have been 10 cases of HBA referred to Lighthouse – the Constabulary’s Victim and Witness Care Service - of these, eight victims accepted support and had their details passed to support agencies in the area.
PCC Sue Mountstevens, who represents PCCs nationally on HBA, FM and female genital mutilation (FGM), said: “It’s important we continue to talk about and raise awareness of honour-based abuse and forced marriage. There is no honour in killing and crimes which cause unnecessary suffering and undermine fundamental rights.
“The Constabulary and I continue to closely with partners to understand the true picture of honour-based abuse and forced marriage in our area. This includes working within our communities to give victims the confidence to come forward and report, as well as signposting to local and national support services who can offer help and advice.”
On Friday, July 13, Avon and Somerset Police lead for HBA and FM DCI James Raphael and lead for FGM CI Leanne Pook, have been invited to attend a national conference hosted by West Midlands in partnership with the National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC) to explore how police forces and partners can work more closely together to tackle these crimes.
DCI James Raphael said: “Avon and Somerset Constabulary are committed to tackling Honour Based Violence and Forced Marriage with the Day of Memory highlighting its upmost importance.
“It is vital that victims feel that they have the confidence to come forward and that when they do everything is done to protect victims from any further suffering and that those responsible are stopped. The constabulary works with its strategic partners both locally and nationally and also with charities such as Nextlink and invests in the training of all its staff to ensure that this is a reality.
“As the force lead I am fully aware that offending remains hidden, often behind locked doors and with victims too terrified to come forward. I want victims to know that there is support there to help and that this is available regardless of whether or not you choose to report your experience to the police. Please do not wait until your life is in danger to get help.”
Throughout the day, James and Leanne will hear from a variety of policing colleagues, partners and professionals and from a survivor of HBA and FM. The day will be an opportunity to address these harmful practices nationally and develop our collective response to tackling this crime.
You can follow updates live from the conference as well as our activity locally by searching #DayofMemory on Twitter or Facebook.
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.
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.
Posted on Friday 13th July 2018