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Posts Tagged ‘violence’

Police Inspectorate backs call for change to safeguard sexual abuse victims from Black and minoritised communities

The first ever Police super-complaint detailing the systemic failures of Black and minoritised sexual abuse cases by police forces across England and Wales has been upheld by the police inspectorate.

Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS), along with the College of Policing and Independent Office for Police Conduct, have upheld the super-complaint lodged by The Tees Valley Inclusion Project and the Halo Project charity, which sheds light on the widespread failures/negligence tens of thousands of victims and survivors of sexual abuse have been affected by, each year, by the police.

The Tees Valley Inclusion Project and the Halo Project Charity welcome the inspectorate’s response to their report, filed August 2020, which provided unequivocal evidence and victim accounts of how the failings/deficiencies severely damage the effectiveness of police investigations of sexual abuse affecting Black and minoritised complainants and have materially dented community confidence in the Police’s commitment to properly investigating serious allegations of sexual abuse, in addition to endangering and irrevocably impacting the lives of those affected.

The complaint contains case studies, victim experiences, expert witness statements, academic research, and the experiences of specialist Black and minoritised staff working in the Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) sector across England and Wales, collectively identifying the specific barriers which effect reporting sexual abuse within Black and minoritised communities.

Yasmin Khan, Director of the Halo Project charity, said:

“We provided unequivocal evidence informed by victims of sexual abuse from black, minoritised communities. Our super-complaint, highlights institutional failings from police investigations across England and Wales which have been upheld on every single count. The inspectorate publishing our report, along with recommendations to all police forces will help build confidence among Black and minoritised communities, however, immediate,  transformative change within policing is now needed urgently, in order to reduce the systematic failings experienced by BME victims of serious and historic abuse and prevent further, unnecessary trauma and harm.

We welcome the call for major changes in policing so that all forces nationally have an in-depth knowledge and detailed understanding of the cultural context of Black and minoritised communities in Britain today and the additional barriers and risks that exist, so that they can provide an effective, evidence-based, and trauma-informed response to victims and survivors at risk. This is not only possible, with expert intervention and education, but critical, across the entire police service. There is no longer any excuse for the ongoing issues which have been identified. Change must now be treated with the urgency required to protect lives.

The inspectorate’s support of the report’s recommendations is a testament to the courageous victims who came forward after suffering in silence for so long, to give evidence and help shape this report, to ensure others do not experience the same failures they did. I also want to acknowledge the contribution our BME specialist services including Muslim Women’s Network, BAWSO, Henna Foundation and many others who helped provide case studies and interviews which informed our report.  We now need to see the implementation of the report’s recommendations in action and accountability to ensure that all survivors of sexual abuse coming forward are given the dignity, protection, and justice they deserve.”

The super-complaint was also supported by Nazir Afzal OBE, a Former Chief Prosecutor for England and Wales, who said: 

“In my experience of three decades in justice I have seen first-hand how victims of sexual abuse have been let down by everyone responsible for safeguarding them and if you’re minoritised then your experience is significantly worse. Tens of thousands have suffered in silence without the support they desperately need. The super-complaint recommendations are critical in enabling victims to have greater confidence that police will respond appropriately every time, and nobody is left behind. Failing to take advantage of this opportunity is not an option.”

The Halo Project is committed to driving forward positive change as part of the police super-complaint and will work with police forces to generate this change to create a safer environment for Black and minoritised communities and the public at large.

The report is available to read at

A 24/7 Support Line for victims of rape and sexual abuse in England is available to victims – call 0808 500 2222 or visit

For support or further information on the super-complaint, please call us on 01642 683 045 or email us at

Covid pandemic shines alarming light on level of honour-based violence, says leading UK charity

By Zoe Crowther

The pandemic has revealed the devastating and real extent of honour-based violence in the UK, according to the founder of a leading charity which supports survivors.

Yasmin Khan, founder of the Middlesbrough-based Halo Project, a charity which supports honour-based abuse (HBA) survivors, believes the Covid-19 pandemic has led to a surge in survivors coming forward after two years of being unable to seek help.

The National Lottery-funded charity has identified huge gaps in the reporting and understanding of HBA, which Khan says is even more prevalent than official figures suggest: the Home Office has only started collecting data from police forces on HBA offences since April 2019.

In the lead up to the National Day of Remembrance for Honour Based Violence (July 14th), the leading National Lottery funded charity, Halo Project, is now calling on victims to spot the signs, report the crime and get the right support they need.

Khan said: “We are seeing a tsunami of victims coming forward who have been extremely traumatised.

“This pandemic has exposed such inequalities and gaps in services, and a lot of staff are burnt out.”

There is no specific offence of ‘honour’-based violence. However, the Crown Prosecution Service describes ‘honour’-based violence as an incident or crime “which has, or may have, been committed to protect or defend the ‘honour’ of the family and or the community.”

Honour-based abuse, although not defined in law, refers to where the concept of ‘honour’ has been used to carry out an offence, such as female genital mutilation (FGM), forced marriage, or honour killings.

Honour-based abuse survivor S* sought help from the Halo Project last year. Having been abused and controlled by her husband, the charity put together a safety plan and provided her with a refuge.

“They gave me a plan B and they gave someone I can share everything with,” she said.

“A caseworker used to sit and listen to me for a long time and it really made a difference.

“People should not be scared to come forward because of their culture. People should know where to ask for help.”

Honour Based Abuse is misunderstood and underreported, meaning that hundreds of victims are not being helped and perpetrators are escaping justice.

Based in North East England, the Halo Project has directly offered support to more than 3,000 HBA survivors since 2011, by providing services such as emergency accommodation, language support, legal advocacy, and a national helpline.

Many survivors they work with are aged between 16 and 24.

“Organisations like ours are so important as the steppingstone for survivors to get the services that they deserve,” Khan said.

“Everyone who comes through our doors is uniquely different; we can’t give them a one size fits all service.

“It’s about tailoring our services to meet their needs and we’ve become real experts in the field, not only for victims, but also for public bodies who need our insight to improve.”

The Halo Project has been involved in a systematic review of police forces in England and Wales, which will result in a published report later this year.

Many HBA survivors feel there is no way out and Khan said the charity has worked with individuals who have tried to take their own life as a result: “Survivors have told us: ‘You’ve saved my life. You’ve turned my life around.’

“When they come to our service, that might be their only chance. And we’ve got to get it right the first time.”

The Halo Project’s long-term aim is to build a ‘zero-tolerance’ approach to honour-based abuse and ‘eradicate’ gender-based violence.

Despite lockdown making face-to-face support difficult, the Halo Project maintained services for survivors via video calls throughout.

N*, a survivor of domestic abuse, was supported by the Halo Project last year to find legal representation and secure a divorce with her abusive husband, who is no longer allowed to come into contact with her or her children.

“My mental health was not good, so their help was very, very important,” she said. “It was my start for a new life.”

She urges other women to not wait for their abusive partners to change, saying: “I waited 13 years and nothing happened. The help I received from Halo was my start, and they will be in my mind all my life.

“Now, everything is okay and I have plans for my future and my children.”

Khan said that funding from The National Lottery has enabled the Halo Project to develop its services further.

She explained: “The National Lottery has been absolutely amazing in understanding our project needs and developing them with us, and really meeting the gaps in services.

“This funding has acted like a safe passage for other funders to come on board, because it shows we are credible and have a history of external funding. That has been a real positive for us.”

Journalist and broadcaster Samira Ahmed, who has long been a supporter of projects tackling HBA, said: “Throughout my career, I’ve always had a special interest and concern in violence against women, particularly honour-based violence against women.

“Honour-based violence has always been there, but we didn’t always call it honour-based violence. The word ‘honour’ is controversial – some people feel it shouldn’t ever be used in the context of violence against women – but it struck me that the problem was never going away, that there were always accusations of racism if people tried to talk about it, and women were being silenced.”

Mrs Ahmed acknowledged HBA continues to be underreported and underacknowledged by the wider public, partly due to these difficulties associated with labelling and discussing it.

She added: “I’ve been really struck when I’ve gone into some communities, and spent time talking to people, police, social workers, women’s groups, about how much pressure there is to not talk about honour-based violence, because somehow it tars a whole community and that it suits racists to talk about it.

“That’s been the real challenge as a journalist: finding that balance between being scrupulously fair and not feeding racism, but also just calling a crime a crime.”

To find out more about the Halo Project and the work they do, visit

National Lottery players raise more than £30million a week for good causes, making projects such as these possible. Find out how your numbers make amazing happen at:

*Name anonymised to protect the identity of the survivor

Source –

Time 100: FGM campaigner Jaha Dukureh makes prestigious list

Anti-FGM campaigner Jaha Dukureh has been named one of the world’s most influential leaders by Time magazine alongside John Kerry, Angela Merkel, Aung San Suu Kyi, Bernie Sanders and Christine Lagarde.

Dukureh, the lead campaigner in the Guardian’s global media campaign to end female genital mutilation, was honoured in particular for her work in the US and the Gambia but is now campaigning to end the practice worldwide in a generation, using her experiences as a survivor to build public support.

She first came to prominence with the success of her petition, which received more than 220,000 signatures, asking the Obama administration to conduct a new prevalence study into the current scope of FGM in the United States.

Now based in Atlanta, Dukureh has become the leading campaigner against FGM in the Gambia. She is of a new generation of young women in the country who are working through the media to make sure that the mutilation they have suffered is not repeated on their daughters.

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An award-winning charity, which rescues women from forced marriage and hundreds of young people from radicalisation, faces closure in a matter of months if it does not receive further funding.

Founded in 1989, JAN Trust was originally set up to support marginalised and isolated communities in north London, but has since expanded to reach people across the UK.

However, it only has sufficient funds to keep its services running until March 31 this year.

ajda Mughal, director of the charity, said that their work had “saved lives” and that she would “dread to think” of the consequences if the charity closes down.

“We have worked one-on-one with victims and intervened in cases of honour-based violence within families, FGM (female genital mutilation), forced marriage, and even cases where a woman’s life has been at risk at the hands of her own family.

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FGM: A tale of force, emotional blackmail and evil dreams

She saw the blade, but dared not move. That was the command! If she did, it would haunt her, her children and the generations to come. That was the cultural notion.

Syada Chebet (middle) is now an activist against Female Genital Mutilation in her village

She saw the blade, but dared not move. That was the command! If she did, it would haunt her, her children and the generations to come. That was the cultural notion.


Syada Chebet, only a teenager then, told herself it was indeed for the best. So if she braved the knife, that funny-looking blade, just for a second, it would be just fine.

Her future would be just fine.  It was only part of her genitalia, it should be fine, she thought.

“It will not take long, it cannot take long,” she soothed herself.  She would let the wrinkly and mean-looking old lady sucking on a tobacco pipe, cut her genitalia. After all, they said it should take a second, right? No, it did not!

The closer, the rusty blade got, the more frightened she got. So, she thought to herself: “I can run, I will run!” Sadly, before she could react, two giant men tore her thighs apart, and pressed them on each side.

“Stay down!” they commanded, all the while stepping on her thighs.

The old woman, also the village’s mutilation surgeon, had since abandoned her pipe and had now started speaking like she was possessed. With her rough fingers, the old woman latched onto Chebet’s genitalia, and pulled.

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Newham has second highest number of reported honour based crime in London

Statistics from a Freedom of Information request to the Met revealed that Newham had 59 reports of honour related crime since 2010.

According to the figures, the borough came joint second with neighbouring Redbridge for the number of reported honour crimes in London, while Brent topped the list with 82 incidents.

Sudarshan Bhuhi, chief executive officer of Stratford charity Aanchal Women’s Aid, said she was not surprised by the figures and that she believes more incidents may be going unreported.

She added: “The issue is quite close to my heart.

“I have been working in here and the economic divide is so diverse – there’s not enough funds for specialised support.” Balvinder Saund, of the Sikh Women’s Alliance (SWA) in Ilford, explained that the “idea of honour” was still present.

“It’s about control and subservience. These old ways of thinking should be left behind – there’s no place for it,” she said. A Newham Council spokesman explained confidential support is available to all victims of domestic and sexual abuse.

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FGM: reporting of cases among children becomes mandatory

A duty on all teachers, doctors, nurses and social workers to report child cases of female genital mutilation (FGM) to the police will come into force next week.

New legislation announced earlier this year make such disclosures mandatory and professionals who fail to report the illegal practice in under-18s could face the sack.

Under the new law, health and social-care professionals and teachers in England and Wales will be obliged to report all cases of known FGM in under-18s, whether it is disclosed by the victim or seen by the professional.

Failure to report cases within a month, unless there are “exceptional” safeguarding issues, could result in the professionals facing internal disciplinary action or referral to regulators, which could bar them from practice.

At a conference on Monday, Karen Bradley, minister for preventing abuse and exploitation, announced the legal obligation would begin on 31 October.

Read more: http://Health professionals are required to report cases among children within a month, unless there are exceptional safeguarding issues. Failure to do so could result in them being referred to regulators.

Forced marriage in Britain: It nearly happened to me

Last year in the UK, 1,267 people were assisted by the government’s Forced Marriage Unit. Add to this the number of people supported by specialist independent charities, as well as local police forces up and down the country, and you have a figure running well into the thousands. In Channel 4’s powerful documentary Forced Marriage Cops (going out this evening) director Anna Hall and her team follow the work of police officers in Greater Manchester as they investigate 250 cases of forced marriage over the course of 12 months.

This wasn’t an easy programme for me to watch. It’s been almost 20 years since the police and local authorities helped me escape from my family because of abuse and the threat of forced marriage. So much time has passed now, and it’s more than jarring to see past experiences reflected so powerfully on camera in the lives of other women like my siblings and I. Forced Marriage Cops focuses on the stories of several women, and each one illustrates the different ways that victims can be affected by forced marriage.

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Law firm Makin Dixon says child sex abuse grooming ‘massive issue’ for Huddersfield

Child sexual abuse grooming is a ‘massive issue’ for Huddersfield, a law firm has said.

West Yorkshire law firm Makin Dixon, which has offices on Queen Street, says it has been dealing with a marked increase in cases of girls being groomed for sex by older men.

The company has been working to obtain injunctions to prevent perpetrators contacting their victims, some of whom have children to their abusers. Makin Dixon partner, Jane Campbell, says victims and their relatives have become more willing to report abuse, which also includes ‘honour’ violence, forced marriage and female genital mutilation. But much of it still passes ‘under the radar’.

Ms Campbell, who works at Queen Street, says the company deals with hundreds of cases of ‘honour’ violence each year, together with about 100 cases of forced marriageacross West Yorkshire.

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