Author: Loulla-Mae Eleftheriou-Smith
A Conservative MP on the women and equalities committee has opposed a new domestic violence bill to stop the use of the term “honour killing” and help British women who are victims of domestic abuse abroad, because it did not mention men.
Philip Davies, the MP for Shipley, was a lone voice objecting to the proposed Crime (Aggravated Murder of and Violence Against Women) Bill, which calls for the term “honour killing” to be banned and for British authorities to prosecute those who beat and murder British women abroad, helping to bring the women home and to pay for the repatriation of the bodies of those murdered.
The private members bill was brought by Conservative MP Nusrat Ghani, who said that “language matters,” and the Bill will commit Britain to describing the crimes for what they really are – murder, rape and abuse.
She said the term “honour killing” is used by abusers as a “pathetic self-justification” for their violence.
Despite Ms Ghani stating that the term “honour killing” is used to describe “a violent criminal act – sometimes committed against a man, but more often against a woman,” Mr Davies claimed that while he opposes women suffering from honour-based violence, “it seems that I am the only one in this House at the moment who equally opposes honour-based violence against men, too”.
He told the Commons: “The main reason I oppose this bill is that it relates only to female victims and not all victims.”
His comments were reportedly heckled by members of the Commons, with some shouting “sit down”.
Mr Davis added: “Why do we need to have just females mentioned in this bill? Why cannot it be for all victims of these terrible crimes?”
He added: “Yes, of course women are far more likely to be the victims of honour-based crimes than men, but they are not exclusively the victims of these crimes.”
The MP also attempted to block a separate domestic violence bill in December last year. His attempt to filibuster the debate over whether or not to ratify the Istanbul convention, which he called “sexist against men,” ultimately failed.
There were 11,000 incidents of honour crime recorded in the UK between 2010 and 2015, MPs heard on Tuesday.
While proposing the bill, Ms Ghani told the Commons that too often women who turn to police for help are sent home to their abusers because officers wrongly believe the cases are cultural issues.
She said: “Members of this House, during their constituency duties, will have encountered cases in which the police, and other agencies including the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) have been reluctant to tackle domestic violence in minority communities for fear of being accused of racism or of provoking community unrest.
“Indeed the CPS has acknowledged that it needs to improve its understanding, response and support to victims,” she said.
MPs overwhelmingly agreed Ms Ghani should be granted leave to introduce the Bill, with Mr Davies the lone voice objecting.
The bill will have its second reading in Parliament on 24 March, which Mr Davies said he will be attending.