Page last updated at 14:36 GMT, Sunday, 20 December 2009

Website to tackle honour violence

Mussurut Zia
Mussurut Zia said the website offered confidential advice

Victims of forced marriage or honour violence can now turn to online counsellors for help.

A website, called Practical Solutions, provides confidential support to victims anywhere in the world - from offices in Blackburn, Lancashire.

Started last week, the community-based initiative has support from Blackburn MP and Justice Secretary Jack Straw.

In the past year, the Home Office's Forced Marriage Unit took 197 calls for help across north-west England.

'Acute need'

The Practical Solutions charity has been working with victims of forced marriage and honour violence in Blackburn for 10 years.

It specialises in challenging such incidents through advice, support and training.

Mr Straw has welcomed the new website

Speaking at the launch of the new website, organiser Mussurut Zia said more victims were seeking help, but that they could just be the tip of the iceberg.

"I think there is a very acute need for something like this because we do have 1,600 or so incidents that are reported, calls for help, which are received by the forced marriage unit nationally," she said.

"In the north west area we've had in the last year 197 incidents - proportionately very high to the size [of area] that we are.

You can never stop criminality of any kind altogether, what you can do is to reduce the chance of these so called honour killings
Jack Straw, Blackburn MP

"But I think that's just the courage of those people who have been able to come forward. I think the number is actually far higher than that."

The website is targeted at women aged between 16 and 25 and offers victims confidential dialogue with advisers.

Mr Straw told the BBC he hoped the initiative would help combat the problem of honour violence.

"You can never stop criminality of any kind altogether, what you can do is to reduce the chance of these so called honour killings.

"But I think incidents are going down and certainly the tolerance of the courts, the police and our society is plummeting and people will not accept any excuses any longer for this kind of behaviour."



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SEE ALSO
Forced marriage law use 'patchy'
17 Dec 09 |  England
Call to re-name 'honour' killings
16 Jan 08 |  Lancashire
Abuse and 'honour crime' probed
14 Jan 08 |  UK Politics
Help for 'honour crime' victims
21 Nov 07 |  England

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