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Groups Seek Action Against Honour Violence

Finnish officials and organizations working with immigrants want to determine how widespread religiously or culturally motivated honour violence is in the country. At present the information available is vague and has been gathered in bits and pieces from different sources. Organizations and the police even have differing views on whether or not any honour murders have been committed in Finland. The Mannerheim League for Child Welfare is one group that works to prevent honour violence and to help those who have been victims. The League's project director, Anna Mikkonen, says that there have been individual cases of honour violence in the Helsinki area, but a few elsewhere in the country as well. There is no debate about the existence of this kind of violence, but there are differing estimates of its extent. Finnish law does not recognize honour violence as a separate class of crime, so cases are not recorded in police statistics as such. Minister of Migration and European Affairs Astrid Thors is looking in part to grassroots action to deal with the problem. She told YLE that it is important that organizations such as the Mannerheim League for Child Welfare and other groups are working with it, and that teachers should learn to recognize changes in the behaviour of young people that could indicate that they are under pressure. Police say that most extreme form of this type of violence, honour murder, has never been seen in Finland. Involved organizations say that immigrant women have told them that there have been murders and brutal violence. However, honour violence more commonly takes the form of threats, forced isolation, restrictions on movement, pressuring or forcing young women into marriages. As a step towards preventing and eliminating honour violence, organizations are calling for training officials to first of all recognize it. YLE

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