Forced Marriages and ‘Honour Crimes’ Spike in UK During Christmas Season

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The number of girls sold into forced marriages and the rate of so-called “honour crimes” spikes during the Christmas season, a UK based charity has claimed.

Karma Nirvana, a national charity that trains the police, NHS, and social services on the issue of honour-based abuse and forced marriage, said that the horrific crimes against girls and women spike during the holiday season in the UK.

The charity said that “honour crimes” including forced marriages, female genital mutilation and “honour killings” rose by 57 per cent during December of last year and January of this year, according to The Independent.

Natasha Rattu, the director of Karma Nirvana, said that despite the spike in honour crimes, the charity receives 22 per cent fewer calls from the public and officials during December because authorities believe it to be a low-risk period.

“It is strange you do not get the same increase of calls before Christmas as you get before other holidays because we know that pupils go missing around Christmas. We tend to find it is the week before they break up because travel tends to be cheaper”, Rattu said.

“Those absences go unnoticed because it is Christmas – girls at risk are more invisible at that time of year. Everything before and over Christmas grinds down to a halt. There are often fears among victims about escalation over the festive period”, she added.

In 2017 Breitbart London reported that “honour crimes” rose by over 40 per cent in London over the prior five years, with the rate of forced marriages doubling during the same time period.

The report found that girls under the age of ten were amongst the victims and that women and girls from an “Asian” background comprised the majority of the victims.

Although legislation was passed in 2014 making forced marriage a jailable offence in England and Wales, the practice persists because like other “honour crimes” it is often committed by the victim’s family.

“It is very much a crime perpetrated by the family and the community. It is very difficult for girls to speak out about. Forced marriage is a hidden crime. There is a lack of understanding among all statutory authorities about honour-based abuse”, said Manna Ahmed, a manager at London Black Women’s Project.

The director of Karma Nirvana said that forced marriage is a particularly “troubling crime” because the “unsuspecting” victims often don’t realise what is happening. Many victims are told by their family that they are visiting relatives for the holidays, before getting married off against their will.

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