Raising awareness of and tackling so-called ‘honour’ crimes will be the focus of Avon and Somerset Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Sue Mountstevens, in representing PCCs nationally on honour-based abuse, forced marriage and female genital mutilation (FGM).
Throughout her time as PCC, Ms Mountstevens has been a fierce advocate for survivors of FGM and was asked to submit evidence to the Home Affairs Select Committee for their ‘FGM: The case for a national action plan’. The PCC will now expand on this work by bringing new focus to tackling ‘honour’ crimes, including forced marriage.
Honour-based abuse (HBA) is any practice used to control behaviour within families to protect perceived cultural and religious beliefs and/or ‘honour’. It is a violation of human rights and is a serious crime.
Examples of HBA includes intimidation, rape, assault, abduction, domestic abuse, physical, sexual, financial, emotional or psychological abuse, forced marriage (FM) – where you’re not given a choice if you want to marry a person – and murder.
PCC Sue Mountstevens said: “’Honour’-based abuse and forced marriage is a particularly difficult crime to tackle as it tends to happen behind closed doors and victims are terrified of coming forward. Victims often worry about what will happen to their family if they disclose the abuse they’re suffering and many don’t want to see their families prosecuted.”
On behalf of PCCs across the country, Ms Mountstevens will act as a voice for victims and survivors, aiming to raise awareness of HBA, working closely with national partners to ensure freedom of choice remains a protected entity.
This work will aim to inform the PCC when joining representatives from across the country, at regular meetings of the So Called ‘Honour’-Based Violence Roundtable, hosted by the Minister for Crime, Safeguarding and Vulnerability, Sarah Newton MP.