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MSB Solicitors Liverpool
Liverpool law firm MSB Solicitors will remember the hundreds of thousands of victims of honour-based abuse next month at an event organised by Savera UK.
 
Honour-based abuse is a collection of practices, which are used to control behaviour within families or other social groups to protect perceived cultural and religious beliefs and/or honour and can extend to physical violence, coercion, intimidation and manipulation, forced marriage and female genital mutilation (FGM).
 
Honour-based violence often very brutal and most commonly involves women suffering abuse at the hands of their husbands.
 
But it can also involve children being abused by parents, parents being abused by children or gay men or women being subjugated, abused or even killed by members of their family, extended family or wider community.
 
Because honour-based abuse often involves multiple family members cases can become complex and it is necessary for both alleged victims and perpetrators to avail themselves of legal representation.
 
MSB Solicitors Family Law Team

A growing concern

Savera UK, formerly Savera Liverpool, works with black minority ethnic communities to challenge attitudes towards harmful practises.
 
The Metropolitan Police says more people than ever are reporting honour-based crimes. Karma Nirvana, the UK’s only forced marriage and honour violence helpline, answers more than 750 calls on average every month – and that number is increasing.
 
For the year 2015-16, Greater Manchester Police ranked third on the list of most reported cases of honour-based abuse in the UK. Of the 857 incidents reported to Greater Manchester Police, 143 were deemed a crime, but just 23 (3%) resulted in a person being charged.
 
More must be done
In December, the CPS and police published the first ever joint honour-based violence/abuse and forced marriage protocol outlining their commitment to the successful investigation and prosecution of honour-based crimes.
 
The protocol recognises the importance of strong partnership working between these two agencies.
 
But Emma Carey, partner and head of family at MSB says more must be done.
 
“It’s clear that we need to get smarter at policing honour-based abuse and better at supporting victims” she said.
 
“The Forced Marriage Unit for the UK helped more than a thousand people in England and Wales in 2015, but I suspect that is just a small proportion of those really suffering.
 
“We need to look at prevention, protection and provision.
 
“Prevention of the crimes occurring in the first place by challenging attitudes and creating an environment where victims feel they can speak out and the right level of protection for those victims when they do.
 
“We must consider that in many cases, honour-based abuse entails multiple perpetrators, so victims can feel incredibly isolated.
 
“Furthermore, we must ensure we provide the right support for those victims in the longer term. Many may require access to housing or accommodation, there may be children or other family members affected, and of course legal support is vital.”
 
The right advice
MSB's family team is well experienced in handling cases of honour-based, domestic abuse, forced marriage and FGM and are also adept in the handling of international family matters having been appointed to the International Child Abduction and Contact Unit for the UK in August.
 
Emma Carey and partner Emma Palmer are Resolution-accredited in the areas of child abduction and domestic abuse, solicitor Eve McGowan is on the Law Society’s advanced specialist panel for child abduction.
 
Emma Palmer is also accredited in forced marriage and honour based violence.
 
She says: “We understand the reasons why honour-based abuse is so under-reported – it is difficult for most of us to imagine having to sacrifice our relationship with our entire family.
 
“But, while admittedly there are challenges around policing honour-based violence, I must emphasise that access to support is better than it has ever been.”
 
Taking a stand
Emma adds: “Organisations like Savera UK are doing fantastic work in raising awareness of honour-based abuse, supporting victims and working in collaboration with police forces, law-makers and legislators to remove stigma, challenge cultural traditions and bring the conversation to the fore.
 
“MSB has enjoyed a close working relationship with Savera UK for some years now and it has helped us to reach out to those suffering abuse to let them know that there are things we can do to help them, both in the short and long term.
 
“With regards to forced marriage, for example, we can make an application to prevent the marriage ever taking place by way of a Forced Marriage Protection Order. There are, of course, steps that can be taken to annul the marriage too, if it has already taken place.
 
“Many forced marriages happen abroad. It is possible to apply to court for removal of passports or other preventions, measures that can be taken to prevent vulnerable individuals from travelling or to ensure the safe and prompt return of a person to the UK and we can obtain injunctions against those forcing a marriage.
 
“Simply, the message is, we don’t have to stand for this anymore. We must tackle honour-based abuse, but to do that, we need those suffering to speak out.”
 
Get involved
On July 14, Savera UK will host a memorial event for the women lost to honour-based violence and to commemorate 10 years of the recognition of honour based abuse.
 
The day will entail a video to commemorate some of those women lost to honour-based abuse over the last decade, with short recordings from representatives of Savera UK and their partner organisations including Wirral Domestic Abuse Alliance, Involve Northwest, Merseyside Police and MSB.
 
Nazir Afzal, former chief executive of the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners for the North West, and the man who brought the prosecution against the Rochdale grooming gang, will address attendees and there will be a balloon release to commemorate those lives sadly lost.
 
The event is an opportunity for anyone affected by honour-based abuse, or committed to tacking it within our society, to come together and set the agenda for change.
 
For more information on the event or if you’d like to speak to a member of MSB's family team, please contact Emma Carey directly by emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call 0151 281 9040.

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