Section 6. Discrimination, Societal Abuses, and Trafficking in Persons
Rape and Domestic Violence: The law criminalizes rape, including spousal rape. The maximum legal penalty for rape is life imprisonment. The law also provides for injunctive relief, personal protection orders, and protective exclusion orders (similar to restraining orders) for female victims of violence. The government enforced the law effectively in reported cases. Courts in some cases imposed the maximum punishment for rape. According to the ONS, from April 2017 to March, police recorded 53,977 rapes. The government provided shelters, counseling, and other assistance for survivors of rape or violence.
The law criminalizes domestic violence. In May new sentencing guidelines for domestic violence took effect. Those who abuse spouses, partners, or family members will now face tougher punishment than those who commit similar offenses in a nondomestic context. Approximately 26 percent of women and 15 percent of men aged 16 to 59 had experienced some form of domestic abuse since they were 16 years old, according to the Crime Survey for England.
Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C): The law prohibits FGM/C. The law also requires health and social care professionals and teachers to report to police cases of FGM/C on girls less than 18 years of age. It is also illegal to take a British national or permanent resident abroad for FGM/C or to help someone trying to do this. The penalty is up to 14 years in prison. An FGM protection order, a civil measure that can be applied for through a family court, offers the means of protecting actual or potential victims from FGM/C under the civil law. Breach of an FGM protection order is a criminal offense carrying a sentence of up to five years in prison.
FGM/C is practiced in the country, particularly within some diaspora communities where FGM/C is prevalent. There were no convictions for FGM/C during the year. In March a man was acquitted for allowing his daughter to undergo FGM, in the second-ever case brought to a UK court. A case involving a Ugandan man and a Ghanaian woman charged with FGM/C on a three-year-old was pending at year’s end.
The government took nonjudicial steps to address FGM/C, including awareness-raising efforts, a hotline, and requiring medical professionals to report FGM/C observed on patients. The National Health Service reported 4,495 newly recorded cases between April 2017 and March 2018.
Sexual Harassment: The law criminalizes sexual harassment at places of work. Authorities used different laws to prosecute cases of harassment outside the workplace. A 2016 NGO report found that more than half of women had faced sexual harassment at work.
Coercion in Population Control: There were no reports of coerced abortion or involuntary sterilization.
Discrimination: The law provides the same legal status and rights for women and men. Women were subject to some discrimination in employment.
Birth Registration: A child born in the UK receives the country’s citizenship at birth if one of the parents is a UK citizen or a legally settled resident. Children born in Northern Ireland may opt for UK, Irish, or dual citizenship. A child born in an overseas territory is a UK overseas territories citizen if at least one of the child’s parents has citizenship. All births must be registered within 42 days in the district where the baby was born; unregistered births were uncommon.
Child Abuse: Social service departments in each local authority in the country maintained confidential child protection registers containing details of children at risk of physical, emotional, or sexual abuse or neglect. The registers also included child protection plans for each child.
Early and Forced Marriage: The minimum legal age for marriage is 16. In England, Northern Ireland, and Wales, persons younger than 18 require the written consent of parents or guardians, and the underage person must present a birth certificate. The legal minimum age to enter into a marriage in Scotland is 16 and does not require parental consent.
Forcing someone to marry against his or her will is a criminal offense throughout the UK with a maximum prison sentence of seven years. Forcing a UK citizen into marriage anywhere in the world is a criminal offense in England and Wales. In 2017 the Home Office Forced Marriage Unit provided support in more than 1,196 cases of potential or confirmed forced marriage cases involving UK citizens, 90 percent of which took place overseas. In 2017 the government introduced lifelong anonymity for victims of forced marriage to encourage more to come forward.
In May a UK national was convicted of forced marriage after tricking her 13-year-old daughter into traveling to Pakistan and forcing her to marry a Pakistani man. The woman received a four and a half year prison sentence. In July a UK couple was convicted for forcing their teenage daughter to marry after taking her on what she thought was a holiday to Bangladesh. These cases represented the first such convictions under the 2014 law criminalizing forced marriage in England and Wales.
NGOs reported that the government took insufficient action to protect British victims of early or forced marriage from their foreign husbands or fiancés by denying them UK visas.
Sexual Exploitation of Children: The penalties for sexual offenses against children and the commercial sexual exploitation of children range up to life imprisonment. The minimum age of consensual sex in the UK is 16. The law prohibits child pornography in all parts of the UK.
International Child Abductions: The UK including Bermuda is party to the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. See the Department of State’s Annual Report on International Parental Child Abduction at .
The 2011 census recorded the Jewish population at 263,346. Some considered this an underestimate, and both the Institute for Jewish Policy Research and the British Board of Deputies suggested that the actual figure was approximately 300,000.
The NGO Community Security Trust (CST) published a semiannual report recording 727 anti-Semitic incidents nationally in the first six months of the year and more than 100 anti-Semitic incidents monthly from January to June. “This sustained high level of anti-Semitic incidents suggests longer-term phenomenon in which people are more confident to express anti-Semitic views,” CST stated.
Among the incidents between January and June were 59 assaults, three of which left people requiring hospital treatment. One involved the use of a knife and 13 involved stones, bricks, bottles or other thrown objects. There were 53 threats, 43 involving damage or desecration, and 544 examples of abusive behavior, including anti-Semitic graffiti on non-Jewish property, one-off hate mail, and verbal abuse. According to the report 163 incidents involved social media.
In March, Jewish leaders demonstrated outside the parliament protesting Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn’s failure to address anti-Semitism in his party. Labour MPs who took part in the protest were subjected to social media abuse and threatened with deselection from the Labour Party.
Also in March Corbyn apologized for defending an artist who had painted a mural considered by many as offensive and anti-Semitic. He said he did not properly look at the picture, which depicted a group of bankers or industrialists, some of them appearing to be Jewish, playing Monopoly on the backs of the poor. Corbyn admitted the contents of the mural were “deeply disturbing and anti-Semitic.”
In an April parliamentary debate, Jewish Labour MPs recounted the anti-Semitic abuse they had suffered from Jeremy Corbyn’s supporters, among whom Labour Party member Marc Wadsworth was named as a prime perpetrator. Wadsworth was expelled from the party for two years for his alleged anti-Semitism.
In March staff at a library in Belfast received threatening phone calls following an event to mark the birth of Belfast-born former Israeli President Chaim Herzog. In a response, former First Minister Arlene Foster called for regional political unity in opposition to anti-Semitism.
In November a young boy required hospitalization after he was punched in the eye and grabbed by the mouth by a couple on a bus in Wales after his mother told them she was born in Israel. According to a bystander, the couple appeared to be intoxicated, and the man used “verbal anti-Semitic abuse.”
The Jewish Leadership Council’s Scotland branch stated, “The Jewish community here in Scotland has seen a rise in anti-Semitic hate crime in the last year, and there has been a rise in anti-Semitic comments and actions, not just day-to-day, but in mainstream politics.” Scotland’s political parties continued to speak out against any forms of racism, including specifically anti-Semitism.
The law prohibits discrimination against persons with physical, sensory, intellectual, and mental disabilities. The government effectively enforced the law.
Britain’s equality watchdog, the EHRC, contended persons with disabilities were still treated as “second-class citizens,” because progress in promoting improvements by governments, businesses, and the wider community had stalled.
Bermudian law protects the rights of persons with disabilities in the workplace. The law does not include any protection from discrimination on mental health grounds.
The EHRC provided legal advice and support to individuals, a hotline, and could conduct formal investigations, arrange conciliation, require persons or organizations to adopt action plans to ensure compliance with the law, and apply for injunctions to prevent acts of unlawful discrimination.
The law prohibits racial and ethnic discrimination, but Travellers, Roma, and persons of African, Afro-Caribbean, South Asian, and Middle Eastern origin at times reported mistreatment on racial or ethnic grounds.
In Northern Ireland, the PSNI reported that the number of incidents and crimes fell in four of six hate-related motivations: racist, homophobic, sectarian, and disability. It increased slightly in two categories: faith/religion and homophobic.
Racially motivated crime remains the most commonly reported hate crime.
In April the so called Windrush scandal broke out concerning those, mostly from the Caribbean, who were wrongly detained, denied legal rights, threatened with deportation, deported, or refused re-entry to the UK. Many of those affected were born British subjects and arrived in the UK legally decades earlier. The authorities, however, destroyed their immigration records in 2010, making it impossible for them to prove their legal status. The scandal led to the resignation of then home secretary Amber Rudd and the appointment of Sajid Javid as her successor. Javid announced a series of measure to redress the situation. The implementation of those measures was ongoing.
Under “Right to Rent” rules all landlords in England had to check the immigration documents of prospective tenants to verify they are not irregular or undocumented migrants. Landlords can be fined up to 3,000 pounds ($3,900) for noncompliance. In June the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants sought permission from the high court to challenge the right to rent scheme, which the court granted on the basis that “the right to rent creates a real risk of discrimination,” according to the chief executive. A cross-party group of MPs also raised the matter with the Home Secretary, urging a review of the scheme.
In Bermuda, where 54 percent of residents describe themselves as black, arrests of black persons constituted 84 percent of all arrest cases in 2017.
The law in England and Wales prohibits discrimination and harassment based on sexual orientation. It encourages judges to impose a greater sentence in assault cases where the victim’s sexual orientation was a motive for the hostility, and many local police forces demonstrated an increasing awareness of the problem and trained officers to identify and moderate these attacks.
In Scotland racial, sexual, or other discriminatory motivation may be an “aggravating factor” in crimes. Crime motivated by bias against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or intersex persons was the second most common type of hate crime.
In Northern Ireland, in accordance with a law that came into effect in June, individuals previously convicted under laws that criminalized homosexuality were officially pardoned and their criminal records cleared. Annual Pride parades across Northern Ireland occurred without incident.
According to the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance, intolerant political discourse focused on immigration and contributed to increasing xenophobic sentiments. Certain politicians and some policies portrayed Muslims in a negative light. Hate speech in some traditional media, particularly tabloid newspapers, continued to be a problem, with dissemination of biased or ill-founded information.