Breast Ironing

Home Office written question – answered on 12th February 2019.

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Photo of Lord Carlile of Berriew Lord Carlile of Berriew Crossbench

To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the answer by the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department on 22 March 2016 (HC Deb, col 1552) which stated that they were "absolutely committed to putting a stop to" the practice of breast ironing in the UK, what progress they have made in regard to that issue; and what further steps they intend to take to stop that practice.

Photo of Lord Carlile of Berriew Lord Carlile of Berriew Crossbench

To ask Her Majesty's Government what consideration they have given to introducing legislation to ban the practice of breast ironing.

Photo of Baroness Williams of Trafford Baroness Williams of Trafford The Minister of State, Home Department, Minister for Equalities (Department for International Development)

Breast ironing is child abuse and it is illegal. The Government is committed to challenging the cultural attitudes that underpin so called ‘honour-based’ abuse (HBA), as set out in our cross-Government Violence Against Women and Girls Strategy. No one should suffer because of who they are or which community they are born into.

In addition, the following documents provide advice and support for professionals in respect of safeguarding children from abuse, including HBA:

Keeping Children Safe in Education (p.80-82): https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/keeping-children-safe-in-education--2

Working Together to Safeguard Children: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/working-together-to-safeguard-children--2

CPS Legal Guidance on Honour-Based Violence and Forced Marriage:https://www.cps.gov.uk/legal-guidance/honour-based-violence-and-forced-marriage

Border Force officers at UK ports and airports are trained to look for those at risk of HBA. Border Force conducts regular joint operations (‘Operation Limelight’) with the police at airports across the country to raise awareness with potential victims of HBA, including breast ironing.

While there is no specific offence of breast ironing, the police have a range of other offences at their disposal to deal with any cases they encounter. This includes offences of common assault, actual bodily harm or grievous bodily harm. There are also specific offences of child cruelty and causing or allowing a child to suffer serious physical harm, both of which carry a maximum sentence of 10 years imprisonment.

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