Julie Bindel Julie Bindel

24 Hours in Police Custody: a C4 programme that finally tells the truth about ‘honour crimes’

Settling down to watch 24 Hours in Police Custody, the new Channel 4 programme brought to us by the team behind the excellent 24 Hours in A&E, I was expecting some proper gripping telly. What I did not envisage was to be further educated about the level of plonkery that some men are capable of. And I don’t just mean the criminals.

The custody sergeant this week was checking in a 60-year old man who was under arrest for an alleged assault and kidnap. The case was called ‘honour-based violence’, which usually refer to crimes against women and girls perpetrated by religious maniacs. There are countless such cases in the UK: revenge attacks on women who refuse to comply with forced marriage or female genital mutilation or who behave in a manner considered inappropriate to her culture – such as drinking, wearing western clothes, having any type of fun. Delighted that mainstream TV was covering the issue, I refreshed my glass and texted my feminist friends.

The man in custody was of Pakistani heritage and was being accused by his 25-year-old daughter of assaulting her in front of her sister, niece and nephew – aged two and six, respectively – then attempting to bundle her into a car to prevent her from seeing her husband, a Pakistani Muslim that the victim married despite her father’s disapproval. ‘She is mentally ill’, repeats the father when the police officer asked him what happened.

The victim was so scared of being punished by other family members for involving the police that they sent her to a safe house. But did law enforcers actually understand what was at stake here? ‘The Muslim community usually don’t like to trouble the police,’ said one of Bedfordshire’s only Muslim police officers, explaining that there is often a preference to go to faith and community leaders.

Cut to the alleged perpetrator’s mosque and a Muslim officer speaking to one such ‘community leader’ (a title reserved only, it would seem, for brown and black men), who appeared to be giving a character reference for the accused that was based solely on the fact that he was a regular at the mosque.

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