The Independent on Sunday’s misleading report

17000 attacks on women every yearThe Independent on Sunday (IoS) of 10th February 2008 had an article under the headline “A question of honour: Police say 17,000 women are victims every year“. It chose this headline with a picture of a Muslim woman implying that 17,000 ‘honour’ crimes are taking place within the Muslim community.

The paper quoted Commander Steve Allen as stating “We work on a figure which suggests it is about 500 cases shared between us and the Forced Marriage Unit per year,” he said: “If the generally accepted statistic is that a victim will suffer 35 experiences of domestic violence before they report, then I suspect if you multiplied our reporting by 35 times you may be somewhere near where people’s experience is at.”

The MSF has been in discussions with Commander Allen and has established that during the conversation with the journalist from the IoS he had made it clear that these figures were only indicative. Yet the IoS still chose to use this in an inflammatory manner.

“The Independent on Sunday article simply multiplied the 500 cases that are reported to police by a factor of 35 and used the answer to write a headline. It was never intended that my comments should be interpreted in this literal way.” Said Commander Allen.

He further states, “ACPO is also very clear, and repeats in all its guidance on the subject, that Forced Marriage and Honour Based Violence are not connected to any particular religion or set of religious beliefs. They are cultural phenomena that cut across a wide range of communities from around the world.”

The MSF is saddened to have seen IoS run an article on an important issue such as this in this irresponsible way. With all the vitriolic Islamophobic reports in certain sections of the Media, we never expected the IoS to have joined in to the foray.

We hope that the Independent will look at clarifying this matter and not damage its good reputation with this kind of Islamophobic reporting in the future.

Muslim Safety Forum, 14 February 2008