Dr Aisha K Gill's pioneering research on violence against women, 'honour' crimes and forced marriage has improved support for victims, raised awareness and enabled better prevention strategies and the successful prosecution of perpetrators.

Impacts

  • Dr Gill's research has helped to develop legislation and national policy including the Forced Marriage (Civil Protection) Act (2007), the National Police Honour-Based Strategy and two-year action plan (2008-2010) and the criminalisation of forced marriage under the 2014 Anti-Social Behaviour Crime and Policing Act.
  • The NHS, Department for Education, and third sector and voluntary organisations have used Dr Gill’s research to develop good practice guidelines, improving their engagement with victims and their families as well as perpetrators. For example, in 2013, she developed a safeguarding toolkit for Birmingham's Women's Aid to help to identify forced marriage and assess the risk factors.
  • Dr Gill has acted both nationally and internationally as an expert witness for various jurisdictions, including the Shafilea Ahmed murder case (R v Ahmed and Ahmed 2012).
  • In 2015, Dr Gill was invited to join Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) Expert reference Group on Honour-Based Violence and is advising on how the police deal with 'honour' crimes, forced marriage and female genital mutilation.

"We consulted with Dr Gill at a very early stage in the investigation of the disappearance and murder of Shafilea Ahmed. She provided invaluable advice on the cultural issues and was used as an expert in the prosecution... Her level of expertise is unrivalled." (Detective Superintendent Geraint Jones, Crime Operations, Cheshire Police)

About the research

Over the past 17 years, Dr Gill of the University of Roehampton has brought the issue of violence against women and girls in black, minority ethnic and refugee communities out of the shadows. She has helped to shape local, national and international policymaking and practice related to violence against women, in particular, the issues of 'honour' crimes and forced marriage, which affect over 1,000 women and girls every year in the UK.

"In 1998, when I started my doctoral research on domestic violence against South Asian women living in East London, the problem of 'honour' violence and forced marriage was far less visible," Dr Gill suggests. "To an extent, people used certain cultural assumptions about black, ethnic and refugee communities to explain, or even justify, the ongoing violation of women's rights."

To challenge such thinking, Dr Gill has developed ground-breaking perspectives and unrivalled expertise in violence against women, enabling the police and criminal justice system to serve the victims and prosecute the perpetrators more effectively. Her expert evidence about so-called 'honour' killings and forced marriage in the case of the disappearance and murder of Shafilea Ahmed contributed to the conviction of the victim's parents for murder in August 2012.

"Improved risk assessment and good practice guidelines as well as more effective police training are now assisting the police, teachers, health workers and social services to fulfil their responsibilities, investigate cases properly, and better support victims and survivors," she explains.