Nusrat Ghani has been backed by MPs in her campaign to end the use of the word ‘honour’ in reference to murder and domestic violence.
The Wealden MP yesterday (Tuesday, January 31) introduced a Private Member’s Bill, overwhelmingly approved for introduction in the House of Commons, which seeks to remove the language of ‘honour’ from all official documents.
In her speech introducing the Bill, she said, “The use of the term ‘honour’ to describe a violent criminal act committed against a man, but more often a woman, can only be explained as a means of self-justification for the perpetrator.
“It diminishes the victim and provides a convenient excuse for what in our society we should accurately call simply murder, rape, abuse, and enslavement.”
She argued that the term describes the crime through the motivations of the perpetrator; between 2010 and 2015 there were 11,000 recorded incidents of crime where the term ‘honour’ was applied in the UK.
Ms Ghani also spoke of instances in which the police and other authorities are intimidated against pursuing and prosecuting some violent crimes for fear of being accused of racism or stirring up community ill will.
She said, “The principle of treating every victim equally and with dignity, of our law enforcement agencies responding to every crime with equal vigour, is threatened when a separate set of cultural norms and practices are accepted for some victims of domestic violence.
“We have one law in our country and it applies to everyone regardless of their heritage or faith.”
She spoke of three brave victims, Sarbjit, Fozia and Seeta, who were each subjected to instances of domestic violence which, in Seeta’s case, led to her murder.
Sarbjit was abused throughout her marriage, but told that the ‘honour’ of her family was at stake if she complained.
When she struck up the courage to go to the police, the evidence of her abusers was believed over hers.
Ms Ghani said, “Today was a humbling experience. It is rare to have the overwhelming support of the House of Commons on all sides, with just one objector, and having survivors sitting in the gallery to listen to my speech made it particularly special.
“I am delighted by the determination of MPs to resolve this issue, and it was especially important that the Prime Minister, who herself led the way as Home Secretary with landmark changes to the way we combat modern slavery, was there as well.”
The Bill was overwhelmingly approved for introduction by the House of Commons, with just one objection by Conservative MP Philip Davies, who said it was too focused on women.
The House also supported calls to increase support for British victims of domestic violence overseas, as well as a commitment to pursue and prosecute perpetrators of aggravated murder of British citizens overseas.
It will now progress to its Second Reading on March 24.