A raft of measures to help tackle honour-based violence (HBV) and support hard-to-reach communities should be introduced, according to a new report by Manchester Metropolitan University researchers.
The report calls on the government to create a new national framework to address HBV, alongside the appointment of a dedicated minister and new legal agreements with foreign governments.
Researchers from the University’s Manchester Law School presented their report to MPs and policy-makers at the House of Commons, outlining the findings of a year-long national roadshow.
The report, which is supported by Virendra Sharma MP and Pat McFadden MP, recommends establishing a separate government HBV unit and creating a national database to better record related statistics and data.
The report also recommends developing a new strategy to support men who are victims of HBV and forced marriage and increasing cooperation and communication between agencies when dealing with cases of HBV as well as developing advertising and awareness campaigns and introducing better training for interpreters working on behalf of victims
Dr Maz Idriss, Senior Lecturer in Law at Manchester Metropolitan, said: “While there are existing strategies aimed at preventing and supporting victims of forced marriages, there appears to be a lack of will and leadership from the government and policy-makers to prioritise HBV as a separate issue applicable to all government departments.”
Hosted by Manchester Metropolitan and the UK charity Jeena International, the HBV national roadshow took place in Manchester, Wolverhampton, Leeds and London. Each event was designed to raise public awareness of HBV and forced marriage, highlighting the issues facing both women and men.
By bringing together community groups and organisations who have either experienced HBV and forced marriage, or are working within the field, the roadshow gave participants the chance to access new research and to add their own voices to the recommendations.
Dr Clive Driscoll, is a former Detective Chief Inspector and a trustee of the True Honour Charity which aims to help and support all victims of HBV, forced marriage and female genital mutilation.
He said: “This is an essential step forward in preventing this type of crime. The work Manchester Metropolitan has completed, and is anticipating in completing, will help all practitioners in making difficult decisions.”
Concerns were also raised on the use of translators and interpreters in HBV and forced marriage cases, citing breaches of confidentiality, inaccuracies in their accounts of events and disclosing the actions of complainants to members of the community or the complainants’ families.
Sarbjit Athwal, Founder of the True Honour Charity, said: “It is a must that every appropriate agency should be trained on issues relating to HBV and forced marriages. It does not matter who they are; if they are working in a frontline profession, they should be trained.”
A key finding was the lack of support for men who are victims of HBV and forced marriage. A number of men reported failings in the way police forces dealt with their calls. Issues of masculinity, men’s honour, shame, and abuse by women, prevented men from coming forward.
By exploring real cases of HBV and forced marriage, the report outlines how men have been neglected due to a combination of factors, including a lack of awareness and a resistance or dismissiveness by some organisations to address the service needs of men.