Gwent scheme aims to help abused women

POLICE, health workers and social services in Gwent will work closer together to tackle forced marriage and honour-based violence.

Staff from the police, Aneurin Bevan Health Board, local councils and voluntary groups met at Gwent Police’s headquarters in Croesyceiliog yesterday for the launch of a new training programme on how to deal with the issue, which will train up to 400 people in its first year.

Chief constable of Gwent Police Carmel Napier, who is also the Association of Chief Police Officers’ lead on domestic violence, spoke of the real dangers faced by victims of forced marriage and honour-based violence, across a range of cultures and nationalities.

She later told the Argus this was an issue for Gwent, with her officers currently dealing with “live jobs”.

She said there was often only one chance to help those at risk, because it takes a long time for victims to ask for help and they may not ask again.

Mrs Napier added the new training, which will also include online resources, will help staff working in hospitals, schools, the police, housing and social services to recognise signs of forced marriage and honour- based violence, and advise them on the best way to help victims.

Mariam Elmirghani, from the Black Association of Women Step Out (BAWSO) described how her organisation helps women from black and ethnic minorities in Wales who have been made homeless because of domestic violence.

She said in the last three years BAWSO helped 99 women at its shelters in Newport and Cardiff who were fleeing forced marriage.

Around 20 per cent of these were from Gwent.

Anyone who would like information or support on forced marriage or honourbased violence can call BAWSO on 01633 213213, the Wales domestic abuse helpline on 0808 8010800 or Gwent Police’s domestic abuse officers and diversity team on 01633 838111.