Select Committee on Home Affairs Sixth Report

Key facts

Domestic violence is the largest cause of morbidity worldwide in women aged 19-44, greater than war, cancer or motor vehicle accidents.

According to the British Crime Survey, 1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men in the UK will experience domestic violence at some point in their lives. The vast majority of serious and recurring violence is perpetuated by men towards women.

Domestic violence accounts for 16% of all violent incidents reported to or recorded by the police. Around 2 women a week are killed by their partner or former partner.

The UK Government has adopted the following non-statutory definition of domestic violence: "Any incident of threatening behaviour, violence or abuse (psychological, physical, sexual, financial or emotional) between adults who are or have been intimate partners or family members, regardless of gender or sexuality".

Home Office figures suggest there are around 12 "honour" killings each year, but the total is likely to be far higher.

So-called "honour"-based violence occurs in communities where the concepts of honour and shame are fundamentally bound up with the expected behaviour of families or individuals, especially women. "Honour" killings represent the extreme end, but there is a spectrum of other forms of violence associated with "honour".

The Government's Forced Marriage Unit deals with 5,000 enquiries and 300 cases of forced marriage each year. 30% of these concern under-18s, and 15% are men.

Forced marriage is not arranged marriage, nor is it in any way a religious practice. The Government defines it as: " A marriage conducted without the valid consent of both parties where duress (emotional pressure in addition to physical abuse)is a factor".

Neither domestic violence nor forced marriage is in itself a specific criminal offence.

Domestic violence is estimated to have cost the UK 25.3 billion in 2005-06.


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Prepared 13 June 2008