Friday, June 13, 2008

Report on Domestic Violence, Forced Marriage and “Honour”-Based Violence

The House of Commons Home Affairs Committee has today published its report on Domestic Violence, Forced Marriage and “Honour”-Based Violence. The report is in two volumes, comprising 168 and 514 pages respectively, but the summary notes:
  • Available statistics suggest that one in four women and one in six men will experience domestic violence at some point in their lives.
  • So far as so-called “honour”-based violence and forced marriage is concerned, the evidence is patchier, but the Government’s Forced Marriage Unit handles 300 cases a year, although the true number is likely to be far higher.
  • The Government’s approach to all forms of domestic violence remains disproportionately focused on criminal justice responses at the expense of effective prevention and early intervention.
The Committee's recommendations include:

1. That the Department for Children, Schools and Families introduces an explicit statutory requirement for schools to educate children about domestic and “honour”-based violence and forced marriage.

2. That visa sponsors are interviewed where there is suspicion of a forced marriage, including where suspicion is raised through information provided by third parties, and that the Government attach a power of refusal without the need for an evidential statement to visa applications in the case of reluctant sponsors.

3. That a thorough programme of accredited training for front-line professionals should be implemented across the board, including teachers, health professionals, visa entry clearance officers, police, judges and magistrates.

4. That the Department for Communities and Local Government urgently quantify the scale of the shortfall of refuge space and emergency housing for those fleeing domestic or so-called “honour”-based violence or forced marriage, and work with local authorities to ensure that refuge space is sufficient to meet demand across every local authority area.

5. That the Home Office and Association of Chief Police Officers must ensure all police officers are explicitly instructed not to issue cautions, and that the Crown Prosecution Service must charge for breaches of injunction.

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