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Stats show honour based abuse numbers are on the increase

Sue Cade
Authored by Sue Cade
Posted: Tuesday, April 9, 2024 - 09:33

An Exeter based family law solicitor who specialises in honour based abuse cases has spoken out about the rise in cases over the past two years.

Director Imran Khodabocus from The Family Law Company crunched the numbers from figures obtained from police forces across the country.

The statistics are alarming, with the number of cases rising by 62 percent in two years; in 2020 there were 1,599 cases and in 2022, 2,549. The total number of offences have risen 193 percent since 2016.

Highest rates in the country in 2021 and 2022 were reported by the Metropolitan, West Midland and Greater Manchester police forces.

However, Imran says, “While it’s understandable that the highest figures are in the largest conurbations due to higher population numbers and more mixed communities than in more rural areas like Devon, the issue of honour based abuse is not restricted to major cities. It’s cropping up increasingly in neighbourhoods where previously such abuse was far less likely.”

While the Devon and Cornwall police force have not yet released data for 2022, figures up to then showed a steady increase year on year, whilst neighbouring Avon and Somerset police force documented 39 cases in 2020 rising to 96 in 2021 and 84 in 2022.

The term honour based abuse covers a wide scope of offences, from forced marriage, FGM and coercive control to violence, rape and attempted murder. In just one year the Metropolitan Police recorded 514 cases of violence: two attempted murders, 32 rapes, 310 cases of forced marriage and 49 cases of female genital mutilation, totalling 1,213.

Imran added: “These figures certainly reflect the cases I am seeing and in my experience, the numbers of honour-based offences are not just rising but getting more severe. For example, I am seeing more forced marriage cases, which is surprising as just over a year ago we saw the legal age of marriage increase in the UK from 16, to 18. This was a move which was partly designed to crack down on forced marriages, but it’s not one which I have seen have much impact.

“It’s sobering to realise that, in reality, the numbers are likely to be much higher, as out of the 39 constabularies in England approached, just 26 were able to provide the necessary data due to issues accessing the data in an easily retrievable way.”

Imran says that another concern is the rise of honour based abuse in more cultures than previously recorded. He believes there’s a pressing need for training to support informed recognition of such abuse by the authorities, especially when children are involved. Imran has delivered such training locally in Devon but, he says, it’s desperately needed countrywide.

A spokesperson from women’s rights organisation IKWRO(Iranian & Kurdish Women’s Rights) said: “We know “honour”-based abuse is not confined to specific regions but is prevalent across England and indicates a systemic problem that requires comprehensive and coordinated responses at both local and national levels.”