"Honour killings" - the Crime (Aggravated Murder of and Violence against Women) Bill
This is a bill going through the House of Commons. It was introduced to Parliament on Tuesday 31 January 2017 under the Ten Minute Rule, which allows an MP to make his or her case for a new bill in a speech lasting up to ten minutes. If the MP is successful the bill is taken to have had its first reading.
The Bill is aimed at protecting women, who are citizens of the United Kingdom, from violence outside the United Kingdom. It provides for the following measures:-
This Bill is a Private Member’s Bill and sponsored by Nusrat Ghani, MP for Wealden.
The account of the first debate on the Bill makes for sobering reading, because it contains accounts of so called "honour killings" and the unpleasant truth behind the term "honour".
Nusrat Ghani explained that the use of term "honour" to describe a violent criminal act, could be explained only as a means of self-justification for the perpetrator. The stories that she told were nothing to do with honour, and all about covering up crimes, as well as controlling and exploiting women.
Between 2010 and 2015, 11,000 incidents of crime to which the term “honour” was applied were recorded in the UK.
During the debate, an objection was made by Philip Davies, MP for Shipley on the grounds that the Bill only protected women, and not men. He mentioned two cases of "honour killings" which involved men.
Certainly a bill to protect victims of crime should protect all victims of the crime, to which it refers, but Mr Davies did not help his case by beginning his speech with the following paragraph:-
"For the benefit of the morons on Twitter, and for some in this House, I should make it clear from the start that obviously, along with everybody else, I oppose women suffering from honour-based violence, but it seems that I am the only one in this House at the moment who equally opposes honour-based violence against men too."
Twitter critics are a fact of life, particularly for MP's. Bills can be amended as they go through Parliament, and I suspect that there's a constructive way to do it. Setting oneself up as the lone human rights champion in the House of Common isn't that way.
The Bill is to be welcomed and I will be interested to see how it progresses. The use of the words "honour killings" may be convenient to describe a particular crime, but as Ms. Ghani says, it excuses the crime itself. Another example is "child pornography". Not all pornography is illegal but the production of images of child abuse is, hence the term that is sometimes used "child abuse imagery".
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