This is a guest post from MixTogether
As has been widely reported in the media, ACPO and the CPS are today launching a new initiative aimed at increasing prosecution rates for so-called ‘honour’ crimes .
This is a welcome initiative, but it gets no closer to tackling the real root of the problem. It is just the latest round in the bizarre game of charades the government is playing with regard to ‘honour’ crimes.
You know how the game works- someone has to mime the word or phrase and the people opposite have to guess what the message is. In the same way, the government and the police keep ramping up the criminal sanctions against ‘honour’ crimes, hoping that minority communities will eventually get the hint that their ‘honour’ or izzat system is unacceptable.
Why is it so difficult for this to be said openly?
The law of the land allows civil marriage between any two eligible and willing citizens, regardless of the race, religion, caste and even sexuality of the couple. That should really be all young people need to know.
The idea that some citizens of this country should live their lives under a parallel, quasi-legal system that dictates who they can marry- sometimes under threat of capital punishment- should be openly and loudly derided by the most senior of our politicians.
Why do Nazir Afzal and other senior figures not have the courage to say publicly to the known problem communities that their behaviour in these matters is wrong, and does not accord with the letter or the spirit of British law? Rather than attempt to educate and improve the lives of young people in these communities, this government prefers to wait until matters have got so bad that they cross into criminality and then prosecute families, as if we need further strain on the criminal justice system.
The NGOs who work most closely with victims of ‘honour’ crimes are also part of the problem. The funding they receive is based on their caseload, which means they have little incentive to try and fight the root causes of these crimes. Over the last decade they have done a fantastic job of telling the government, the police and senior judges what they are doing wrong in relation to ‘honour’ crimes, but you will seldom hear them castigating the communities where these problems actually originate.
Much of the behaviour used to control young people in problem communities will never cross into criminality anyway, as MixTogether.org members can amply testify. Today’s initiative will provide further incentives for families to devise non-criminal ways of controlling their children, perpetuating the domestic misery suffered by so many.
The problem of ‘honour’ crimes will not disappear until the root causes of sexism, racism, caste prejudice, homophobia and downright disregard for human rights are eradicated in ALL parts of British society.