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UK’s South Asian women battered

A study by the Association of Chief Police Officers says nearly 17,000 South Asian women have been subjected to honour related violence, reports Vijay Dutt.
By Vijay Dutt | Hindustan Times, London
UPDATED ON FEB 11, 2008 02:02 AM IST

Nearly 17,000 South Asian women have been subjected to honour related violence in Britain, says a new study by the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO). They have been beaten up, pressured to an extent that they have committed suicide, or even murdered by their relatives in a bid to prevent them from following their romantic inclinations.

An officer, who worked on the survey, said figures showed that South Asian women between the ages of 16 and 24 were three times more likely to commit suicide than the national average.

Children as young as 11 have been sent out of the country to be married. This has prompted the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to call on British consular staff in Bangladesh, India and Pakistan to take more action to identify and help British citizens believed to be the victims of forced marriages in recent years.

Although the maximum number of cases relate to families from Pakistan, said an officer, there were quite a few from India as well.

Only a few months ago the aged mother-in-law and the husband of a Punjabi girl were convicted for taking her to their village in Punjab from where she never returned.

The Home Office is drawing up an action plan to tackle honour-based violence which "improve the response of police and other agencies" and "ensure that victims are encouraged to come forward with the knowledge that they will receive the help and support they need".A Civil Protection Bill coming into effect later this year will also help courts deal more effectively with forced marriages.

It has been revealed that every week on an average three girls from Pakistan enter Britain, who have been married against their will.

The government's Forced Marriage Unit (FMU) handled approximately 400 cases last year – in 167 case, girls who wanted to escape unwanted partners overseas were rescued and brought back to Britain.

A shocking video message from murdered Banaz Mahmood, revealed how her own father had tried to kill her after she abandoned her arranged marriage and eloped with another man. In the grainy message she told how he plied her with brandy – the first time she had ever had alcohol – pulled the curtains and asked her to turn around. The 19-year-old fled, but less than a month later was found dead and buried in a yard in Birmingham.

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