Executive than just cultural or religious practices.

Executive
Summary

Forced
Marriages (FM) and Honour Killings (HK) were considered as a problem of South
Asians (SA) communities, especially women in the UK. However, it was identified
through several studies that it can occur in any community and culture, and is
not totally exclusive to any gender either. The literature review had
demonstrated that FM and HK are correlated and mostly linked to immigration
issues rather than just cultural or religious practices. Mostly migrant women,
especially on spouse visas were shown to be victims of these crimes but were
not able to report it, due to their insecure immigration status. The Home
Office (HO) and UK Government have taken significant steps, introduced relevant
laws and made provisions to tackle issues related to these crimes.

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Introduction

FM are
now considered a national and international issue (Chantler
and et al,2009). FM and so-called HK are
a violation of human rights and a severe form of domestic violence (DV)
especially against women and girls (Meetoo&Mirza,2007,Uddin&Ahmed,2000).
In the western world, the issue of forced and arranged marriages (AM) is widely
misunderstood and often related to religious or cultural practices. However, it has been established that there is no
correlation between religion and FM as freely solemnizing marriage between two
consenting parties is a prerequisite of Christian, Hindu, Muslim and Sikh
religions (Uddin&Ahmed,2000). Considering
this, the HO made a clear distinction between arranged marriage and forced
marriage in their report called: A choice by right (Uddin&Ahmed,2000), which was further supplemented by the
National Police Chief Council (NPCC) including an enhanced description of
honour-based-violence (Chishty,2015).

The
report provided the following definition of arranged and forced marriage

AM: is a contract between
two consenting parties to freely enter in a matrimonial contract without any
deception and/or duress (Uddin&Ahmed,2000).  

FM: in contrast to AM, FM
involves physical and/or psychological coercion to one or both spouses to enter
into a matrimonial contract (Uddin&Ahmed,2000).

Honour-Based-Violence
(HBV): According
to the NPCC there is no statutory definition of honour-based-violence, but it
is described as any form of physical, psychological, sexual or financial
violence, threats, intimidation and or coercion, a crime which is or may be
committed against an individual to defend and or protect the honour of an
individual/family/community/ would be considered as HBV (Chishty,2015)-(see
appendix1).

 

Marriage Act 1949, Matrimonial Causes Act
1973 and Forced Marriage Protection Order (FMPO) 2014: The
marriage Act 1949 and Matrimonial Act 1973 together constitute the marriage law
in England and Wales (Gill&Anitha,2009)
and also facilitate marriages solemnized abroad, provided that the law of the
given country and the legal and mental capacity of both consenting parties are
fulfilled (legislation.gov.uk,2017).  Forcing
someone to get married is a criminal offence and can lead to imprisonment of up
to seven years. An FMPO can be obtained through the Forced Marriage Unit (FMU)
if a person is about to be taken abroad for a forced marriage, or through the
nearest British embassy if already abroad and/or in a forced marriage (Gov.UK,2017).

Theory
of Violence against Women: The
Marxist feminist theory describes the paradigm of gender roles relating to
power and control where women are used by men as their property or a commodity
(DeKeseredy,2011).

 

Methodology

A
choice by right (2000) report was a
qualitative study commissioned by the HO to measure the pervasiveness of FM and
its impact on a wider society. The aim of this study was to explore the cause
and effect behind FM and provide guidance to multi-agency professionals to
identify and respond effectively whilst acknowledging cultural and religious
aspects but without compromising human rights (Uddin&Ahmed,2000).
In addition to this, in 2008, an inquiry report was published by The House of Commons Home Affairs
Committee to determine the effectiveness of implemented interventions, role and
response of multi-agency approaches, public education and awareness raising,
protection of victims including financial and refuge support, pursuing
perpetrators, police powers and implementation of relevant legislation and
barriers which hinder the achievement of the targeted/desired results (Committee,2008).

 

 

 

 

 

Results/Findings

FM and HK are strongly interconnected as the latter is
often the result of the former (Idriss,2017). According to Haloproject (2017), with approximately 12-15 reported HK
annually in the UK. Similarly, The FMU (HO,2017)
established in 2005 (Gov.UK,2005),
reported 1,428 cases of FM in the UK in 2016, including the overseas element of
FM, where a victim has been or is intended to be taken abroad with only 11% of
cases entirely UK based with no overseas element. Most of the reported cases of
FM victims were women-80% and a smaller number were men-20% (HO,2017). It is
estimated that providing public services to victims of DV which includes FM and
HK, costs the UK £15.8bn annually, excluding the cost of health, housing,
social-services, criminal-justice, civil and legal services which is estimated
at £3.9billion (HO,2016). The
financial costs do not indicate the negative influence both physically and
mentally these crimes have upon the victims (HO,2016).  In 2016,
the predominant cases of FM amongst people that came under UK jurisdiction were
SA, which was broken down as: Pakistani-43%, Bangladesh-8% and Indian-6% (HO,2017).
However, the problem is not limited to SA communities (Julios,2016), as there have been cases in England and
Wales involving families from Europe, Africa, East-Asia and Middle-East (Uddin&Ahmed,2000). 

Though,
there were several factors identified which may have played a significant role
in FM-(see appendix2) and HK, the most prominent factor identified which
increased violence against women and girls was their immigration status “no
resource to public funds” (Coy&Kelly,2011).

Discussion

Britain is a multi-cultural country and the SA communities
are prominent due to their large size resulting from their settling in the UK
post-independence (Meetoo&Mirza,2007). In the UK, FM victims are mostly women
(Gangoli&etal,2006) however, a minority of cases reported male victims as
well (Samad,2010). Immigrant women are identified as the most vulnerable group
who suffer this violence due to their insecure immigration status (spouse visa,
no resource to public funds and illegal status) and including several other
barriers (Anita,2008). Chantler and et al argued that FM are linked to
immigration rather than religious or cultural practices as the existing
legislation favours the British-spouse over the immigrant-spouse (2009). So, if
the marriage breaks down, the migrant spouse loses the right to stay in the UK
and faces deportation back to their respective country (Anita,2008).

In view of these observations and recommendations to control
HBV and FM, the UK government introduced several interventions including Specialist
DV-Courts, Multi-Agency Risk Assessment Conferences (MARAC) and Independent DV
Advisors (IDSVA) (Committee,2008). The
role of IDSVA is quite crucial as they deal
with high risk and complex cases especially cases related to immigrant women
with no access to public funds (Coy&Kelly,2011)-(see appendix3). The HO
further introduced the DV law in 2013 which enables an immigrant spouse of the
British spouse to settle permanently in the UK, if the marriage has been broken
down because of DV (Immigration,2013).
Furthermore, the Government has announced the provision of £80million for DV
related services over the period of 206-2020 to ensure that no women are turned
away from the support they need (Government,2016).

 

Conclusion

FM and
HK are currently debated at national and international level and are a major
concern in the UK while tackling DV amongst ethnic communities. These crimes do
not belong to any specific gender, religion, culture or community. However,
they are more prevalent in SA communities, especially immigrant women on spouse
visas. Considering this, based on several studies the HO and UK government have
introduced significant laws and provided provision to end violence in the name
of honour and reduced FM. In addition, more research and training should be
provided to the relevant authorities to swiftly respond to this issue and
tackle it effectively while following the appropriate safeguarding
procedures/protocols.

 

Recommendations

Ø  Challenge
harmful cultural practice

Ø  Early identification and intervention

Ø  Awareness raising

Ø  Victims protection

Ø  Pursuing perpetrators to reduce further harm

Ø  Swift and effective multi-agency respond and

Ø  Improved safeguarding procedures-(see
appendix4)

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