Cases of forced marriages and honour killings soar

The Scottish Government wants to criminalise forced marriages despite opposition from support agencies. Picture: Getty
The Scottish Government wants to criminalise forced marriages despite opposition from support agencies. Picture: Getty
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CASES of forced marriage and honour-based violence are soaring across Scotland as a result of heightened public awareness, police chiefs have claimed.

Figures show that in Edinburgh there have been 19 cases of honour-based violence and six of forced marriage dealt with by the police between January and November this year.

Last year, in the full 12 months, there were 23 cases of honour-based violence and one of forced marriage.

Not all of these cases would have resulted in a report to the procurator fiscal but might have involved removing or 
relocating the adult or child at risk.

Honour-based violence often involves people who believe family members have brought shame on them by behaving in a way that contradicts their traditional beliefs, such as marrying someone from a different religion. It mostly affects girls and women but can also affect male family members.

Figures also show police have dealt with nine cases of female genital mutilation (FGM) across Scotland this year, against none last year.

Outlawed in the UK in 1985, the practice takes many forms but traditionally involves the full or partial removal of young girls’ genitals.

Detective Chief Superintendent Imery, the lead on public protection for Police Scotland, said: “We are getting much better at recognising honour-based violence.

“We are seeing an increase in incidents being recorded as confidence in coming forward increases. Since the formation of Police Scotland our approach has significantly improved. Awareness is improving nationally and we are starting to get the messages out there.

“We are holding the conference because we want to improve Police Scotland’s understanding of these issues. We want to enhance the understanding of not just police but all the agencies involved.”

DCS Imery also called for a civil remedy for female genital mutilation – akin to the one on forced marriage that the Scottish Government is considering amending.

She added: “I think it would be a fantastic idea to have a preventative order for FGM. I think forced marriage protection orders are a good parallel. I would far rather prevent these things from happening than have a crime prosecuted.”

Scotland has had eight forced marriage prevention orders. However, the Scottish Government now plans to criminalise forced marriage, despite opposition from specialist support agencies who warn it will drive the practice underground because children do not want to criminalise parents.

Under the current legislation, courts in Scotland can issue protection orders that aim to prevent forced marriage.