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Archive for August, 2017

Rape, forced marriage and mutilation – women tell their harrowing stories to Home Secretary

Amber Rudd visited The Halo Project which supports victims of forced marriage, FGM and domestic abuse.

Survivors of domestic abuse and forced marriage told their harrowing stories to one of the UK’s most senior politicians.

Home Secretary Amber Rudd visited charity The Halo Project, which supports victims of forced marriage, domestic abuse , honour based violence and female genital mutilation.

She was there to find out how the Home Office could further support the project and combat extremism.

Mrs Rudd spent around an hour with the charity in central Middlesbrough and heard some inspiring and shocking stories from survivors.

One woman, who did not want to be named, spoke of her journey from her native Nigeria to Middlesbrough.

She said: “I was on the verge of committing suicide.

“I was a victim of domestic violence and I was forced to marry someone.

“I tried to run from my life because it was the only way I could get myself out.

How a nod betrayed dad’s guilt over honour killing of Shafilea Ahmed while his “brutal” wife silently controlled their deception

t was a heartbreaking moment – a mother and father being forced to deny on television that they had anything to do with the disappearance and murder of their 17-year-old daughter.

As they were repeatedly asked about the disappearance of Shafilea Ahmed , Iftikhar and Farzana wiped away tears and resolutely told television cameras they were being victimised and stereotyped because of their religion.

And asked again during a television interview, if they had killed their teenage daughter, Iftikharreplied with an emphatic ‘never’ as his wife sat there silent, presumably overcome by the grief of losing her eldest child.

But there was one problem. As he protested their innocence on camera there was something Iftikhar could not hide – an almost imperceptible nod as he said “never” – his body language betraying the truth he and his wife had worked so hard to hide.

And while Farzana sat silently, motionless, her arms folded and her face impassive, even she could not control every movement. A sideways glance at her husband as he answered the question ‘did you kill her?’ has led to the claim that she may have been the “architect” of their years of deception, by experts analysing their words and movements for the next episode of Faking It: Tears of a Crime on Investigation Discovery.

Forced marriage law is failing

Only one in 30 suspected forced marriages in England is leading to a prosecution.

In the past seven years 8,170 cases of suspected forced marriages were identified by the government’s forced marriage unit. There have only been 395 referrals to the Crown Prosecution Service since 2010, however, of which 268 prosecutions were completed, according to the CPS’s violence against women and girls reports.

During the same period, about 1,250 forced marriage protection orders were issued to protect girls and women at risk, and assist with repatriating victims. Last year 246 were issued, up from 217 in 2015.

The curse of blades and powders: FGM in Somaliland – in pictures

Almost all women aged 15 to 49 in the east African state of Somaliland have suffered female genital mutilation. But a campaign to highlight the physical and psychological damage caused by the practice is starting to have an impact


Parents accused of breaching forced marriage order by trying to fly children out of UK

Parents accused of trying to take their children out of the country in the breach of a “forced marriage” court order have appeared before Teesside’s top judge.

The Teesside man and woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, appeared at Teesside Crown Court on Thursday.

They are accused of breaching a forced marriage protection order by trying to take their children out of the country.

They have not yet entered pleas.

They were stopped at the departure gate at Newcastle Airport on August 5 last year.

It is alleged they tried to board a flight to Dubai with their children aged four to 15, with a connection flight booked to Islamabad in Pakistan.

The forced marriage protection order was imposed at Middlesbrough County Court in January 2016.

Such orders are imposed to prevent forced marriages or protect people in a forced marriage.

Their case has now been adjourned until September 7 for further investigations to take place.

‘Darkness masked in lightness’: the designer using a board game to avoid arranged marriage

In 2016, the Pakistani designer Nashra Balagamwala attended her best friend’s wedding in Karachi. She was approached by an older woman, who asked about her relationship status. “You’re 22 and you’re still single?” the lady gawked.

“She was in shock I wasn’t getting engaged any time soon,” said Balagamwala, who now lives in New York City. “It infuriated her before she walked off.”

Pakistani women can face incredible pressure to wed at a young age. Balagamwala has worn fake engagement rings to weddings, cut her hair to look less feminine and even “become more tanned and therefore more unappealing”, she said.

Now she wants to shed light on arranged marriage in a new board game called Arranged!, which will be released on her website on Wednesday.

The strategy game follows three young Pakistani women as they try to avoid a matchmaker. There are escapist tactics and genuine ways to finding Mr Right.

“My parents have tried to have me married off multiple times,” said Balagamwala. “I want to avoid an arranged marriage without upsetting my parents too much.”

In 2012, Balagamwala started studying at the Rhode Island School of Design. Since graduating last year, she has worked at Hasbro, which makes Monopoly and Jenga, but her parents want to her to return to Karachi, just as her one-year work visa expires.

Crackdown could see people carrying acid jailed in bid to stop attacks

Anyone who carries acid could face up to four years in prison or risks a life sentence if they use it to attack someone, under tough new rules for prosecutors.

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), against the backdrop of horrifying acid attacks, has issued updated interim guidance which for the first time explicitly refers to acid or corrosive substances.

Possession of an offensive weapon or threatening a person with an offensive weapon, which each come with a maximum four-year prison term, are among the “most appropriate” charges which can be brought.

he guidance explains that acid and corrosive substances such as bleach or ammonia may be used as a weapon. Victims of hate crime, so-called honour-based violence, domestic abuse and revenge attacks by gangs have all been targeted, according to the guidance.

It states: “Acid and corrosive substance attacks have a devastating effect on victims. And when thrown on to the victim’s body – usually their face – cause the skin and flesh to melt, sometimes exposing and dissolving the bones below.

“The long-term consequences of acid or corrosive substance attacks may include blindness, permanent scarring of the face and body, and social and psychological difficulties.

Close loopholes that allow forced child marriage in the UK

The NSPCC report of increasing calls in relation to forced marriage (Report, 31 July) is alarming. In 2016 more than a quarter of cases dealt with by the Forced Marriage Unit involved under-18s. Child marriage is a harmful practice that has severe, lifelong consequences and is a violation of human rights under international law.

Childline and charities like ours provide support for children at risk but are not the whole solution. The increase indicates a need for urgent action and is a damning indictment of the government’s response to child marriage. Despite the criminalisation of forced marriage, loopholes remain. Eighteen is the legal age for marriage in England, Wales and Northern

Ireland but legislation allows marriage of 16- and 17-year-olds with parental consent, which can mean coercion. In Scotland, the minimum age of marriage is 16 and does not require parental consent.