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Archive for March, 2019

Police failing to protect rape and abuse victims, says super-complaint

Data from 11 frontline services shows forces failing to use legal powers, says group

Police are “systematically failing” to protect victims of domestic and sexual violence, according to campaigners in the second super-complaint made to a national watchdog.

The Centre for Women’s Justice (CWJ) has accused police forces of failing to use existing powers to deal with domestic abuse, harassment, stalking and rape.

In a super-complaint to HM Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services, the group makes four key claims focusing on bail for rape suspects and failures linked to non-molestation, domestic violence and restraint orders.

“Centre for Women’s Justice has become concerned that the various legal measures intended to provide protection to women are not being applied properly on the ground,” the document says.

“This super-complaint addresses four legal powers available to the police in detail and explores the extent to which, and the reasons why, they are not being used adequately. When all the failures are taken cumulatively, CWJ believes that there is a systemic failure to meet the state’s duty to safeguard a highly vulnerable section of the population.”

‘Dad said he would kill me if he found me’

Sanaz (not her real name) was 13 years old when she left home to escape a forced marriage. Her story is not unusual for many young girls in London.

Forced marriage became an offence in 2014 and since then there have been 491 incidents of it reported to the police in the capital.

But the Metropolitan Police has yet to secure a conviction.

Sanaz’s story, and the experiences others affected by forced marriage, is now being used in schools to raise awareness among young people about the issue.

Mother jailed for 11 years in first British FGM conviction

Woman who cut three-year-old daughter also given two more years for other offences

A mother has been jailed for 11 years after becoming the first person in Britain to be convicted of female genital mutilation (FGM) in a landmark case.

The 37-year-old woman was found guilty of cutting her three-year-old daughter.

A further two years were added to her sentence for possessing indecent images and extreme pornography.

Campaigners welcomed the ruling, describing it as a “watershed moment” that sent a strong message the crime would not be tolerated.

Speaking at the Old Bailey in London, Justice Philippa Whipple said it was not known why the woman inflicted FGM on her child, contrary to her culture, although witchcraft was a possibility.

Whipple described what the woman did as a form of child abuse. “It’s a barbaric practice and a serious crime. It’s an offence which targets women, particularly inflicted when they are young and vulnerable,” she said.

On the psychological effect on the victim, she told the defendant: “This is a significant and lifelong burden for her to carry. You betrayed her trust in you as her protector.”

Caroline Carberry QC, prosecuting, told the court the victim had recovered well but she was likely to experience reduced sexual sensation in the future and long-term psychological damage.

The Ugandan woman, 37, and her Ghanaian partner, 43, both from Walthamstow, east London, were accused of cutting their daughter over the 2017 summer bank holiday. Her partner was cleared of involvement following a trial.


I had the honour yesterday of listening to Yasmin Khan. Yasmin is the founder and chief officer of the Middlesbrough based Halo Project Charitywhich supports victims of honour-based violence, forced marriages and female genital mutilation (FGM).

As I listened to Yasmin, I was struck by the silence in the room. Silence, as we absorbed what we were hearing. Silence, as we heard Yasmin’s harrowing account of the experiences of some of the women who have been supported by the Project. And, silence because the criminal activity that the Project is helping to uncover and stop is so utterly hard to hear.

I tried to imagine how it must feel to live in daily fear for your life, at the hands of abject cruelty, within a community of people that are supposed to love, care for and nurture you. I couldn’t. And, since yesterday afternoon, I’ve thought so much about the people whose stories we heard. Women who have experienced the kind of physical and psychological pain that no person should ever have to encounter. Women who have been murdered because they have brought so-called ‘shame’ or ‘dishonour’ to the family. Women whose genitals have been mutilated by family members and the silence that surrounds this utterly despicable practice. Women who kill themselves because they can no longer cope with the abuse that they experience daily.

On International Women’s Day 2019, let’s talk about breaking the silence that surrounds these crimes. “Break the Silence” is the Project’s strapline, chosen for its aptness and relevance. The noise that’s being created by its existence is loud, necessary and crucial, generating conversations that need to happen in many different settings.

One of the ways that the conversation around FGM will be encouraged is during compulsory relationship and sex education in schools. By 2020, the physical and emotional damage caused by FGM will be discussed with students in secondary school education. Students will be taught that this practice is a form of child abuse and a criminal activity from which women and girls can suffer long-term damage to their phyiscal and mental health.

I have a long held view based on things that have happened in my life: the hardest conversations are the most important to have, yet are often the most difficult to hear. That’s why the room was silent yesterday when Yasmin spoke and what I heard made me think about how different my life is, compared to the lives of the women that the Halo Project supports and protects. It made me realise how easy it is to take my freedom for granted. It made me realise how fortunate I am. And it made me realise the importance of women using their voices to speak out and speak up for women whose voices are silenced.

Yasmin, your voice has spoken. You’ve taken action and brought about great change. Your Halo Project is saving, transforming and making safe the lives of so many. You should be very proud indeed. You’re an incredible woman of Teesside whose achievements I want to celebrate.