U.K. police not taking forced marriage seriously, campaigners say - FreedomUnited.org

U.K. police not taking forced marriage seriously, campaigners say

  • Published on
    December 18, 2020
  • Written by:
    Freedom United
  • Category:
    Forced Marriage
Hero Banner

Police in the United Kingdom are under scrutiny for their efforts to tackle honor-based abuse, including forced marriage, after a sharp drop in the number of offenses recorded.

According to new data provided to the government, recorded offenses that were flagged as honor-based fell from 5,595 to 2,024—a dramatic drop of 64 percent.

In addition to forced marriage, which represented 140 of these recorded crimes, honor-based abuse encompasses female genital mutilation (FGM), assault, and murder.

Natasha Rattu, who heads Freedom United partner organization Karma Nirvana, called the new data “hugely worrying” and said that her own organization’s data show that honor-based abuse has actually increased.

According to Rattu, the data reflect the police’s failure to identify and record honor-based abuse, and attributed this to low awareness and a lack of government leadership on the issue.

The Independent reports:

Ms Rattu, whose charity runs a national helpline, said: “When a victim presents to police, if police identify the abuse is honour related or motivated, they will flag it on their system.

But this is now happening less. It is not that honour-based abuse is occurring less. We are seeing a year on year increase in honour-based abuse in reports to the national honour abuse helpline which you would hope would be reflected in reports to police.

“There are multiple reasons why it is not recorded. There is not enough training, also issues with police thinking ‘this doesn’t affect me’ or their fears around being culturally insensitive, othering victims, and not understanding honour-based abuse is a form of domestic abuse. Victims need to feel if they come forward they will be understood.”

According to a 2015 inspection, only three out of 43 police forces in the U.K. were “prepared” for “protecting people from harm” related to honor-based abuse.

Karma Nirvana has called twice for re-inspection, including in October, but its requests have not been accepted.

For victims of forced marriage and other forms of honor-based abuse, police failures on the issue actively exacerbate it by discouraging victims from coming forward.

Dame Vera Baird QC, the victims’ commissioner for England and Wales, noted that coming forward already takes “massive courage”—making it particularly important for victims to have trust in the police.

Meanwhile, campaigners around the world have sounded the alarm over the pandemic’s impact on forced marriage, with Karma Nirvana reporting a 57 percent increase in calls while the U.K. was in lockdown.

Freedom United has been vocal in the movement against forced marriage in the U.K., gathering over 180,000 signatures on our petition urging the government to ban child marriage and protect girls from forced marriage.

Stand with victims of forced marriage and add your name today.

Freedom United is interested in hearing from our community and welcomes relevant, informed comments, advice, and insights that advance the conversation around our campaigns and advocacy. We value inclusivity and respect within our community. To be approved, your comments should be civil.

stop icon A few things we do not tolerate: comments that promote discrimination, prejudice, racism, or xenophobia, as well as personal attacks or profanity. We screen submissions in order to create a space where the entire Freedom United community feels safe to express and exchange thoughtful opinions.

1 Comment
Most Voted
Newest Oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Mindi Schnatter
Mindi Schnatter
2 years ago

THIS IS CORE WITH ME! It was instilled in me at a very young age & now in my older years, it’s a topic I am willing to explain in great detail if need be. I WILL PROTECT ANY FEMALE! from this. It breaks my heart, it infuriates me & it saddens me. It is imperative to oppose this at all costs. There is no excuse- NONE- for this to be overlooked or ignored or treated as if it is less important or holds no true significance.

This week

Migrant workers jailed in Qatar over demands for owed wages

Five months on from the World Cup final, migrant workers continue to report exploitative labor practices and mistreatment at the hands of Qatari authorities. Three former security guards have been jailed in Qatar for four months following their repeated requests for unpaid wages from their employer, Stark Security Services. Though lauded by FIFA as an opportunity to improve Qatar’s treatment of migrant workers, workers who toiled to make the world’s

| Friday May 26, 2023

Read more