Breast Ironing

Home Office written question – answered on 5th March 2019.

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Photo of Baroness Doocey Baroness Doocey Chair, Finance Committee (Lords)

To ask Her Majesty's Government what action they are taking to ensure police and frontline staff are (1) aware of, and (2) trained in dealing with the practice of breast ironing in the UK.

Photo of Baroness Doocey Baroness Doocey Chair, Finance Committee (Lords)

To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to introduce legislation that will make the practice of breast ironing a stand-alone criminal offence; and if so, when they will introduce such legislation.

Photo of Baroness Doocey Baroness Doocey Chair, Finance Committee (Lords)

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the prevalence of breast ironing in the UK.

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, published in 2016.

The Government is committed to ensuring that front-line practitioners who may encounter women and girls who are at risk of, or who have undergone, breast ironing, are aware of this issue and have the confidence to tackle it.

Border Force Officers at UK ports and airports are trained to look for those at risk of HBA and conduct regular joint operations (‘Operation Limelight’) with the police at airports across the country to raise awareness with poten-tial victims of HBA, including breast ironing. A specific briefing on breast ironing has also been shared with regional Border Force Safeguarding and Modern Slavery leads.

In addition, the following documents provide advice and support for profes-sionals 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

The police have a range of offences at their disposal to deal with any cases of breast ironing they encounter, including common assault, actual bodily harm and 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. As such, the Government does not have plans to introduce a stand-alone criminal offence.

No assessments have been made of the prevalence of breast ironing in the UK.

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