close hide page

Archive for December, 2013

Police reveal rise in cases of honour-based violence

Chief Reporter

Cases of honour-based violence and forced marriage in Scotland are rising as a result of increased public awareness, according to police.

Speaking at a conference at the Scottish Police College at Tulliallan, Clackmannanshire, Detective Chief Superintendent Gill Imery, the lead on public protection for Police Scotland, said there had been an increase in cases of honour-based violence, forced marriage and female genital mutilation across the country.

Honour-based violence often involves people who believe family members have brought shame on them by behaving in a way that contradicts their traditional beliefs, such as marrying someone from a different religion.

It mostly affects girls and women but can also affect male family members.

Figures show that in Edinburgh alone there have been 19 cases of honour-based violence and six of forced marriage dealt with by the police between January and November this year. Last year, in the full 12 months, there were 23 cases of honour-based violence and one of forced marriage.

Not all of these cases would have resulted in a report to the procurator fiscal but might have involved removing or relocating the adult or child at risk.

Figures also show police have dealt with nine of female genital mutilation (FGM) across Scotland this year, against none last year, following revelations in The Herald last month that families have brought their daughters to Scotland to undergo the practice because the country is seen as a “soft touch”. Outlawed in the UK in 1985, the practice takes many forms but traditionally involves the full or partial removal of young girls’ genitals.

There is increasing concern that these “hidden” crimes go unpunished.

In August, Mohammed Riaz Inayat, 56, was imprisoned for 22 years for murdering his wife and injuring his three daughters in an “honour” crime. He deliberately set fire to his house in Birmingham to stop his daughter from flying to Dubai to marry her boyfriend because he believed it would bring dishonour to the family.

Detective Chief Superintendent Imery said: “We are getting much better at recognising honour-based violence. We are seeing an increase in incidents being recorded as confidence in coming forward increases. Since the formation of Police Scotland our approach has significantly improved. Awareness is improving nationally and we are starting to get the messages out there.

“We are holding the conference because we want to improve Police Scotland’s understanding of these issues. We want to enhance the understanding of not just police but all the agencies involved.”

DCS Imery also called for a civil remedy for female genital mutilation – akin to the one on forced marriage that the Scottish Government is considering amending.

She added: “I think it would be a fantastic idea to have a preventative order for FGM. I think forced marriage protection orders are a good parallel. I would far rather prevent these things from happening than solely having a crime prosecuted.”

Women’s support agencies in Scotland say they have also seen a surge in the numbers of cases of forced marriage and honour-based violence since new legislation was introduced in 2011.

Since the law was introduced some support agencies have seen their referrals double. Scotland has had eight forced marriage prevention orders. However, the Scottish Government now plans to criminalise forced marriage, despite opposition from specialist support agencies who warn it will drive the practice underground because children do not want to criminalise parents.

Under the current legislation, courts in Scotland can issue protection orders that aim to prevent forced marriage.


Woman with IQ of 49 ‘was targeted for sham marriage’

A young woman with learning difficulties was “deliberately targeted” for a sham marriage to bolster a man’s immigration case, a High Court judge has ruled.  A wedding ceremony was found to be invalid and declared a “non-marriage” in the Court of Protection case. The 19-year-old woman, known only as SY to protect her identity, has an IQ of just 49 with a learning disability that leaves her “extremely vulnerable”. A 23-year-old man from Pakistan, known as TK, approached her for a relationship in August 2011, just two months after he had exhausted all appeal rights in his immigration case. In June 2012 there was a purported Islamic marriage ceremony at his home but no legal registration of the marriage took place.

Mr Justice Keehan said in a written ruling: “I can reach no other conclusion than he deliberately targeted SY because of her learning difficulties and her vulnerability. The courts will not tolerate such gross exploitation.”

TK lost his final legal bid to stay in the UK in July 2012. He had used the marriage as the basis of an appeal against his asylum refusal, saying that he feared his family would kill him if he returned home, since his new ‘wife’ was white British.

Justice Keehan said: “It is plain on the facts of this case, especially taking account of the immigration judgement handed down on 17 July 2012 in respect of TK’s asylum appeal, that TK exploited and took advantage of SY for the purpose of seeking to bolster his immigration appeal and his prospects of being permitted to remain in this country.”

The tribunal judge at TK’s immigration appeal said of his ‘marriage’ to SY: “The relationship, if there is one, does not have the necessary qualities of commitment, depth and intimacy to demonstrate family life.” He later added: “viewed objectively her best interests are likely to be served by there being no further interference by [TK] and his friends”.

Brought up in foster care for much of her life, SY now lives in a specialist residential home with five other people. The Court of Protection was asked by SY’s local authority to rule on whether it could make decisions on her behalf and what was in her best interests.

She has been known to the council since 2005, when she was just 11 and there were concerns about her missing school and staying overnight at older men’s homes. The judge described “numerous incidents” involving SY being known to local authority over the years, including underage sexual relations, physical and sexual assaults including alleged rapes and witnessing domestic violence.


Read More:

Signed up for work, forced into marriage

Wed, 18 December 2013  and 


An NGO is working to free two Cambodian women forced into marriage in China, a representative of the organisation said yesterday. Huy Pichsovann, program officer at the Community Legal Education Center (CLEC), said that the two women, aged 22 and 27, were enticed from their Kampong Cham homes in March to accept work in Shanghai.

Once they arrived, however, they were both forced into marriage. “A broker lured them to go to China, where they were told they would have a job with a high salary, but when they arrived, they were forcibly married to men they do not love,” Pichsovann said.

“One of the women is rarely allowed out of the house, while the other was forced to get a job but the husband keeps her salary.” The women’s families contacted CLEC in October seeking their help to ensure the girls are released safely.

The mother of one of the women said the offer from the broker had been too good to refuse, but now she is terrified for her daughter’s safety. “The broker said my daughter would get paid $1,000 a month, so she decided to go because the pay in Cambodia is so much less,” the mother said.

“My daughter is given only little bits of plain noodles and rice to live, while she struggles with the cold,” she said. CLEC have been in contact with police in Shanghai and have sent the case to the Cambodian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. “Police are now searching for the broker,” Pichsovann said.

Kuoy Kong, a Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman, could not be reached for comment yesterday. Meanwhile, a man and three women appeared in court yesterday after being arrested last week on human trafficking charges. They are accused of ordering two Kratie-based women to pay them $1,600 each after the duo backed out of a plan to be married to Chinese nationals.

Deputy prosecutor of the Phnom Penh Municipal Court, Ek Chheng Houth, said he had charged the group and the case had been sent to another judge for further investigation. “They were officially charged by the court with producing fake documents, buying or selling a human being, human trafficking and sexual exploitation,” he said.

The four suspects and their lawyers could not be reached for comment yesterday.



Woman with learning disability was forced to have Pakistani’s baby so he could stay in UK

Mrs Justice Parker at the Court of Protection described the ‘grossly cruel’ ordeal of the woman who has a reading age of seven

A British woman with serious learning difficulties married a Pakistani immigrant and had his baby as part of a plan to help him remain in the UK, a secret court heard.

The 37-year-old woman – who has a reading age of a child of seven – was even slapped around the face by her mother to force her to smile for the wedding photograph. On the day the couple attended a register office to give notice to marry, an anonymous caller rang the office to allege that her parents had been paid £20,000 to marry off their daughter to the Muslim student.

Incredibly, although registrars were concerned about the ‘demeanour and vulnerability’ of the bride and feared she was being ‘manipulated’ as part of a visa scam, the civil marriage went ahead two months later. By then, the woman was pregnant and she went on give birth to a boy. Her 33-year-old husband, from Lahore, is now using his human right to a family life to try to stay in the UK, and lawyers expect him to be granted indefinite leave to remain.

The case was heard earlier this year by the Court of Protection, which has the power to make life-or-death decisions on behalf of people deemed to lack mental capacity.

It emerged with the publication of an ‘anonymised’ judgment. In her ruling, Mrs Justice Parker said: ‘I think there is a very significant possibility that this marriage was entered into, and indeed this child created, for reasons solely to do with immigration status. ‘To inflict pregnancy and childbearing on a person who cannot consent to that state is about as gross a physical interference as can be imagined.

Read More:

Nigeria: Women protest against forced marriage to deities

Women in southern Nigeria have been protesting against alleged ritual killings and “forced marriages” to traditional deities, it’s reported.

Such activities are believed to have cost 11 local women their lives in just two weeks, the Nigerian daily Punch reports. About 100 women rallied outside Enugu State government offices on 10 December, demanding an end to “the killing of women through fetish activities of chief priests and deities”. Wearing black dresses and holding palm leaves, the protesters also demanded a ban on “forced marriages” to traditional gods as this violates several articles of the Nigerian constitution. Among the reported incidents is the chief priest of the deity Iyakpala Ugbaike allegedly forcing the daughter of a deceased man to marry him after claiming the same deity killed her father, Punch says.

Read More:

Project Halo Director Yasmin Khan named Middlesbrough’s Citizen of the Year 2013

Top citizen for devotion to community: Yasmin Khan named Middlesbrough’s Citizen of the Year 2013

A woman who has gone the extra mile for her community has been named Middlesbrough’s Citizen of the Year 2013.

Yasmin Khan received the prestigious award from Middlesbrough Mayor Ray Mallon at a special ceremony at Middlesbrough Town Hall last night.

“I’m really surprised but delighted,” said Yasmin, who lives in Acklam with her husband, Yusuf, a graphic designer, 18-year-old daughter, Larayb, and son Ameer, 16.

The accolade marks the 45-year-old’s contribution to a wide range of organisations and community groups and follows a Middlesbrough Mayor’s Award earlier in the year.

“I’m from London originally and I came to Middlesbrough just over 17 years ago,” said Yasmin, an equality and diversity manager at Vela Group.

“I come from a banking background but when I came to the North-east I started doing some community teaching with different BME groups.

“It was a complete career change.”

Working with Middlesbrough Council, Yasmin helped to establish the BME (Black and Minority Ethnic) Network to give individuals and minority groups a voice and influence over the way services are delivered.

She established Ojalah, the first BME older women’s group, in 1999, the first BME group to get funding from Age UK in the Middlesbrough area.

Recent projects have included a European programme which provided employment opportunities for more than 49 individuals from the BME community, one of the top three performing projects of its kind in the country.

Currently Yasmin is involved with a number of community and voluntary sector organisations focusing on improving cohesion and diversity, including helping women and those suffering disadvantage as well as the Crown Prosecution Service’s race and scrutiny panel.

Middlesbrough’s Citizen of the Year award was set up to honour members of the local community who go above and beyond the call of duty to improve the lives of others.

Mr Mallon said: “Over the past decade, Yasmin Khan has made a significant contribution to the community of Middlesbrough through her involvement in many projects and initiatives concerning a whole host of issues, but the promotion of the harmony and diversity agenda is what she is best known for.

“Her work has affected the whole town as well as the Teesside area, and due to her drive and determination she has been able to change countless lives through a desire to ensure a fair an equal society exists for all.”

He added: “This award is richly deserved by Yasmin and, if anything, it should have been awarded years ago.”


Cultural fears hinder war on ‘honour’ killing, says film-maker

Political correctness is hampering the fight against so-called honour-based violence in Britain, a campaigner has warned.

Deeyah Khan, whose documentary about the victim of an “honour” killing from London recently won an Emmy, called for the police to set up a specialist unit to deal with the problem.

The UK-based film-maker, whose parents are from Pakistan and Afghanistan, said there were police departments dealing with witchcraft and gang violence, but none dedicated to investigating “honour” violence.

Speaking at an international conference on women’s rights in London, Ms Khan compared it with organised crime. She said it needed specialist policing because there were multiple perpetrators.

“The victims have to be protected in a certain way. They are at risk from their entire communities,” she said. “There are aunties and cab drivers and even people in dole offices looking out for the women. There are bounty hunters and hitmen who don’t even take money to kill them, they do it because they see it as a necessity.”

Ms Khan’s film Banaz: A Love Story documented the case of Banaz Mahmod, an Iraqi Kurd from Mitcham who was murdered by her family in 2006, and her body buried in a suitcase in Handsworth, Birmingham. The film won an Emmy for best international documentary in October. She said: “It is awful that these crimes happen anywhere, but the fact it is happening here in the UK is unacceptable.” She added that people were afraid to get involved because of political correctness and a sense that “we don’t want to step on the toes of communities”.

She said: “But if the outcome is our young people die or suffer,  what good is that kind of politeness? Our silence allows this to happen.”

Read More:

Is the law in Yemen moving closer to a ban on child marriage?

(WNN/EQ) Amman, JORDAN, WESTERN ASIA: The Human Rights Ministry of Yemen has confirmed that one of its officials has helped to prevent the wedding of a 12-year-old girl, which was due to take place earlier this month. Hiba was to be married in Taiz, Southern Yemen, but the official notified local police who ensured an immediate divorce. There have been reports too of similar interventions taking place in other parts of the country.

With no minimum age of marriage in Yemen, while Hiba and others are out of danger for the moment, without any legal sanctions to support them, these girls remain at serious risk.

However, things may be about to change at last. The Human Rights Ministry, under Hooria Mashhour’s strong leadership, has put child marriage at the top of its agenda. This ministry has been responsible for putting pressure on other members of government to ensure that a minimum age of marriage draft bill is introduced at the next opportunity as part of the ‘National Dialogue’, the process which has followed the country’s recent political uprising.

Fouad Al Ghaffari from the Ministry has indicated that this bill might be introduced by the Minister of Legal Affairs in the very near future. It will probably be based on a 2009 bill, which had proposed fixing the minimum age of marriage for girls at age 17. This was initially backed by Yemeni women and children’s rights organizations, but in late 2010, it was effectively blocked by traditional and religious leaders and the parliament’s Shariah committee. It is hoped that there will be more support on this occasion, but it is far from certain.

Read More:

Schoolgirls in Finland forced abroad for arranged marriages

Yle has learned that girls from immigrant families at a school in Western Finland have been sent abroad into forced marriages. Teachers say they are aware of the situation but are unable to do anything about it.

“I’ve encountered situations where marriages have already been arranged for girls who’ve come here from elsewhere. Some of them are actually pleased with the situation, but there are some who want to continue their studies,” says a teacher at the school.

The teacher points out that not all youngsters from other cultures are aware of Finland’s equality standards.

“In some cases, girls who’ve been subjected to genital mutilation open up to Finnish adults about the pain they have experienced. You get the feeling that this is not right. It’s not according to any religion, it’s a cultural thing,” the teacher says.

Should forced marriage be criminalised?

Under Finnish law, forced marriage can be defined as human trafficking and therefore as a crime — but not a single case has so far been investigated.

“We receive 15-20 inquiries annually about forced marriage. But these cases are kind of hidden, so we can assume that these are just the tip of the iceberg,” says Natalie Gerbert of the Monika Multicultural Women’s Association of Finland, an umbrella organization for groups of women of ethnic minorities.

Read More: