Up to 17,000 women in Britain, most of them of Asian origin, are subjected to "honour" related violence, including murder, every year, the country's police chiefs have said.
The Independent quotes the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) as saying that figures on forced marriages are just the tip of the iceberg, adding that girls are also falling victim to kidnappings, sexual assaults, beatings and murder by relatives intent on upholding the "honour" of their family.
AdvertisementThe ACPO claims that honour-related crimes are up to 35 times higher than what official figures suggest. It also says in its findings that women aged 16 to 24 from Pakistani, Indian and Bangladeshi backgrounds are three times more likely to kill themselves than the national average for women of their age.
The crisis has prompted the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to send out urgent messages to its consular staff in Bangladesh, India and Pakistan to identify and help British citizens believed to be the victims of forced marriages in recent years, the paper says.
The Home Office is also drawing up an action plan to tackle honour-based violence.
Commander Steve Allen, the head of ACPO's honour-based violence unit, was quoted by the paper as saying that the true toll of people falling victim to brutal ancient customs is "massively unreported".
The Independent says that women who have been taken overseas to be married against their will are now being rescued on an almost daily basis. It says that the Gordon Brown Government's Forced Marriage Unit (FMU) handled approximately 400 cases last year - 167 of them leading to young Britons being helped back to the UK to escape unwanted partners overseas.
In an attempt to crack down on the crimes being committed in the name of honour, British police are to introduce a new training package that will give all officers instructions on handling honour cases.
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