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Force Focus – Harmful practices

What are harmful practices? This term includes all forms of violence committed primarily, but not exclusively, against women and girls, and which is considered or presented by the perpetrators as a part of an acceptable cultural practice.

Our force is dedicated to tackling this kind of abuse, and we have a number of specially trained officers investigating harmful practices and related abuse.

Throughout this week we will be focusing on several forms of it.

Sunday (14 July) is Karma Nirvana - a day of remembrance for the victims of honour killings. It is the day we remember and celebrate the lives of those who were lost to honour based abuse.

The most well-known harmful practices are forced marriage, honour based abuse and female genital mutilation (FGM). But there are a number of other harmful practices, and it is important to remember that they are not limited to one culture and can happen in any community, or within just a small sector of a community.

There are a number of signs which could suggest someone is suffering at hands of their close ones, or that a person has been a victim of FGM. If you believe that you, or someone close to you, is at risk of being a victim of FGM, forced marriage or honour based abuse, please report it to the police.

Apart from the most known forms of these kind of crimes, we would also focus on so-called spirit possession and witchcraft accusations towards children, which can lead to most horrendous forms of abuse at the hands of the people that should protect them. There are recorded cases where the parents and carers neglected, abused and in some cases killed their own children in the belief that they were practicing witchcraft, or were possessed by evil spirits.

It is everyone’s responsibility to protect children, and if any child you know bears signs of abuse or neglect, or has lengthy absence from school or community gatherings please get in touch.

We would like to ask our communities to have the confidence and trust in coming forward with any suspicion of abuse. We will treat all reports seriously, with understanding and discretion. It is never acceptable to use tradition and culture as an excuse to abuse anyone.

Detective Inspector Elaine Cook

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