U.S. Department of Justice Report Provides Closer Look at Victims of Honor Violence, What Needs to be Done to Protect Them

— Report highlights AHA Foundation’s significant work to prevent and end honor violence in the U.S. —

NEW YORK CITY, NY – July 27, 2015 – A new report prepared for the U.S. Department of Justice sheds light on the prevalence of honor violence in the U.S. and the ways law enforcement training can reverse its upward trend. Just recently made available to the public, the report also highlights the AHA Foundation’s expanding role as an expert on preventing and ending honor violence in the U.S.

“This report is a significant step forward in helping women and girls impacted by honor violence and forced marriage,” said Stephanie Baric, executive director of the AHA Foundation. “We’re proud that the AHA Foundation’s advocacy efforts contributed greatly to these findings and led to an actionable to-do list to reach more women and girls in crisis.”

Honor violence is typically seen in the form of physical or emotional abuse, sexual assault, rape or kidnapping – but it also includes female genital mutilation and forced marriage. In its most extreme cases, honor violence can lead to murder.

This type of violence hurts thousands of women and girls in the U.S. each year, and it puts millions more at risk – including nearly 1,500 U.S. women and girls who are forced into dangerous, unwanted marriages that can lead to lifetimes of violence or even death. According to the new report for the U.S. Department of Justice, 91 percent of honor killing victims in North America are murdered for being “too westernized.”

The report suggests that the rise of social networking could contribute to the increasing prevalence of honor violence in the U.S. and elsewhere. A woman’s or girl’s presence on social media provides increased opportunities for behavior deemed inappropriate to be seen and punished by family members.

The report also notes that without proper training, law enforcement personnel in the U.S. are unlikely to recognize the warning signs of honor violence. Information about honor violence is often held tightly within families, and victims fear extreme and harmful family responses if they speak out. A pattern of escalating control over a victim is a marker for honor crimes, and training personnel to look for red flags in cases involving family violence can be the difference between life and death.

As highlighted in the U.S. Department of Justice report, the AHA Foundation trains law enforcement, service providers and educators most likely to encounter cases of honor violence on how to best recognize, react and respond to these crimes. The AHA Foundation has trained more than a thousand service providers and law enforcement officials on best practices for identifying and handling cases of forced marriage and honor violence. The AHA Foundation will continue to strengthen its training and other efforts to protect women and girls from honor violence.

“The prevalence of honor violence and honor killings in the U.S. will only increase, unless we act now. We have a duty to protect these young women and to be a voice for them. Most importantly, it is the right thing to do,” said Arizona Detective Chris Boughey, lead investigator in the Noor Almaleki honor killing and officer liaison for the AHA Foundation.

To read the full report prepared for the U.S. Department of Justice, visit https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/bjs/grants/248879.pdf.

About the AHA Foundation

Founded by Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the AHA Foundation is the leading organization working to end honor violence that shames, hurts or kills thousands of women and girls in the U.S. each year, and puts millions more at risk. Get involved at theahafoundation.org.