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Last Updated: Monday, 10 March 2008, 17:06 GMT
Minister's 'honour crime' pledge
An Asian victim of domestic violence
Making forced marriage an offence 'would drive it underground'
So-called "honour" murders are a form of domestic violence which the government plans "get rid of", Security Minister Lord West of Spithead said.

He questioned how the rape and killing of young women "whose crime was to date someone the family didn't approve of" could be described as honourable.

He spoke ahead of the launch of a report investigating forced marriage and honour-based violence in Luton.

But the peer rejected calls for forced marriage to become a criminal offence.


Lord West told the House of Lords he found "it very difficult to refer to what is the murder of generally young women as an 'honour crime'".

There's no culture or religion that actually condones this sort of practise - rather it's an issue of power, domination and control
Lord West
Security Minister

"Honour has nothing to do with it," he said.

"How much honour is there in for example in raping and killing a young woman whose crime was to date someone the family didn't approve of?

"There's no culture or religion that actually condones this sort of practise...rather it's an issue of power, domination and control.

"It's a form of domestic violence which we whole-heartedly condemn and we are taking steps to get rid of it."

During the same session in the Lords Baroness Warsi, the Tories' shadow social cohesion minister, asked: "Is it not time now to make forced marriages a criminal offence - to say very clearly that this will not be tolerated and people will be prosecuted for this offence?"

Underground fears

Lord West said domestic violence cases halved in the 10 years since it was made an offence, from 814,000 cases in 1997 to 407,000 in 2006/7.

However, he said: "The difficulty is these things happen within families.

"We have taken a lot of advice and talked to many people and there's a feeling that the crime would go even further underground because people generally do not want to put their families through this."

On Tuesday, Labour MP Margaret Moran is launching a report that investigated forced marriage in Luton.

The document, which was commissioned by the Luton MP, the Metropolitan Police and the Home Office, will make recommendations on how forced marriage might be eradicated.

It will also say how victims can be supported in the short and long term and give solutions intended for review by statutory and voluntary agencies.

Father in court on murder charge
09 Aug 06 |  England


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