Honour abuse cases on the rise in Capital

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POLICE are dealing with a 
rising caseload of honour-based violence in Edinburgh, including abductions, assaults and threats.

Lothian and Borders Police dealt with 41 incidents last year, with almost all of them taking place in the city. In the previous two years, 31 incidents of honour-based violence were reported to the force.

The victims are usually women from ethnic minority communities who have been accused of “bringing shame” on their family by defying traditional customs.

Police believe that increasing confidence among victims to make reports, as well as greater awareness of the problem among officers, are the reason behind the trend.

Shahkti Women’s Aid, the Edinburgh-based support group for ethnic women suffering domestic abuse and honour-based violence, said forced marriage and being compelled to drop out of education was among the abusive behaviour.

Families and community leaders angered by women who “dishonour” them by refusing to abide by these practices can also face violence.

Sergeant Cath Duguid, from the force’s diversity unit, said: “Honour-based violence includes assaults, abductions, attempted abductions, threats, a whole range of offences which we take extremely seriously.

“We’re investigating more honour-based violence, but we believe that’s because we’ve received more reports rather than because more is happening.

“The force has been reaching out to ethnic communities to build up levels of trust so people feel confident in making reports. We’ve also been doing work with officers to make them better at recognising signs of honour-based violence.”

Out of the 41 honour-based violent incidents last year, only seven charges were brought, a statistic that police say illustrates the difficulties of investigating such cases.

Sgt Duguid said: “It’s a complex situation. We’re dealing with families and communities and what goes on behind closed doors.

“Family ties can often make prosecutions difficult. But we want to encourage victims to come forward so they can receive our help and support.”

Mridul Wadhwa, from Shahkti Women’s Aid, said there was a “growing confidence for young people and women” to report issues such as forced marriages, but many were still reluctant to come forward about honour-based violence.

But she added that more cases are being reported as groups such as Shahkti Women’s Aid worked to spread information on the issue.

She added: “Those same agencies have helped to train police and other frontline services in better reporting, and have worked with police and communities to address fears of people distrusting of police or authority responses.