More and more victims of forced marriage are coming forward in the UK. You’d expect more people being charged by the authorities, but the opposite is true — the number of prosecutions for honor crimes (including forced marriage) has plummeted in the past five years.
Under UK law, honor crimes cover coercive control, forced marriage and subsequent repeated rape, female genital mutilation (FGM), assault, threats to kill, attempted murder and even murder itself. According to the Crown Prosecution Service, successful prosecutions for honor crimes fell from 123 in 2013-14 to just 71 in 2017-18.
“Perpetrators are not being held to account. The fall in prosecutions is massively concerning given more victims than ever are coming forward. It sends a message to communities that you can almost get away with it,” said Natasha Rattu, the director of Karma Nirvana.
The Independent reports:
Rattu said the falling number of honour abuse cases that the police were flagging to the CPS could be linked to their lack of awareness of the issue. Karma Nirvana had trained 43 police forces across England and Wales
“There is a real training gap,” she said. “There is also a lack of confidence to address the issue. Professionals sometimes worry about being seen as culturally insensitive or racist.
“We see cases which are not honour-based abuse and they have flagged it as that. Honour-based abuse victims are also not viewed as having equal rights to other British citizens. These issues happen in minority communities and minority communities often get left behind.
“Honour-based abuse is not being prioritised. Victims do not feel they can trust agencies and think agencies are colluding with the perpetrators.”
“It is possibly the most vulnerable women being left at risk because they are more likely to face reprisal due to police inaction,” added Pragna Patel, director of Southall Black Sisters.
“They have more to lose. Once they have decided to report, they are at risk of being ostracised, isolated, vilified and perhaps subjected to greater threats as they have transgressed community norms.”
It became illegal to force someone into marriage in England and Wales were implemented in 2014. Perpetrators can be imprisoned for up to seven years.