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News - 4 June 2008

Leicester hosts first 'honour-based' crime roadshow

'Honour-based' crimes - often related to forced marriage - are a hidden scourge, says the government. A series of roadshows around the country aims to lift the lid and help sufferers to come forward.

The City of Leicester is today (Wednesday) playing host to the first in a series of roadshows organised by the government to help tackle honour-based violence.

The event, at Leicester City Football Club's stadium, brings together police, Crown Prosecution Service, Leicester NHS Trust and local charities. It aims to increase participants' understanding of the problem so that they are more prepared to spot the tell-tale signs, share best practice from across the country and help those who suffer from honour-based violence.

The government already supports victims of honour-based violence through a new national helpline for victims, partly funded by the Government and run by East Midlands based charity Karma Nirvana. Shazia Qayum of Karma Nirvana said: "All the team at Karma Nirvana are survivors of forced marriage or honour-based violence. A forced marriage is a marriage where one or both partners do not consent to the marriage or consent is extracted under duress. Everyone has a right to choose who they marry and when they get married. You are not wrong for having made the brave decision to leave a forced marriage."

The Home Office announced its intention to undertake these roadshows around England and Wales in its Tackling Violence Action Plan which was published in February this year and which sets out crime fighting priorities over the next three years. Tackling honour-based violence is one of the priorities in this action plan.

Further roadshows will take place in coming weeks and months in Cambridge, Birmingham, Manchester, York, Cardiff and London.

Members of the public seeking advice, help and support on honour-based violence should call the joint Home Office/Foreign Office Forced Marriage Unit on 020 7008 0151. It receives around 5,000 calls each year.

Honour-based violence is defined as a threat to someone's wellbeing because they have not, according to family and local community members, conformed to religious or cultural expectations. Examples could include individuals being forced to marry, kidnapped, being physically or mentally abused and in the worst case scenario be murdered.

Karma Nirvana launched the Honour Network Helpline earlier this year, which is staffed by victims of forced marriage or honour-based violence. It is active seven days a week from 9.30am to 9pm on 0800 5999 247. For more information on Karma Nirvana go to http://www.karmanirvana.org.uk/.

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