Tuesday, February 18th, the AHA Foundation team had the pleasure of co-leading a training on honor violence and forced marriage for the Arizona Homicide Investigators Association. The training was co-lead in partnership with AHA Foundation law-enforcement liaisons Detective Chris Boughey and Detective Jeff Balson of the Peoria, AZ, Police Department.
Detective Boughey began the morning by introducing the topics of honor violence and forced marriage to the crowd of 80 homicide investigators. He explained that he and Detective Balson were initially exposed to the brutal reality of honor violence in the U.S. when being called to investigate the honor killing of Noor Almaleki in Peoria, AZ, in 2009. Since then, the two detectives have become the nation’s leading law enforcement experts in the fields of honor violence and forced marriage.
The AHA Foundation’s Communications Director, Amanda Parker, then spoke to the group about best practices for identifying and handling cases of honor violence and forced marriage. She shared the unique challenges that are faced with these particular types of abuse and explained how understanding the nuances of and motivations behind these crimes is crucial in properly investigating these cases.
Next, the AHA Foundation’s Director of Special Projects discussed working with victims of forced marriage and honor violence. She reviewed the importance of understanding the power dynamic between investigator and victim and how awareness of the way an investigator projects himself/herself can both facilitate a better interview as well as ensure that the victim is not further traumatized by the investigation itself. Additionally, she discussed various challenges in victims seeking help and engaging with law enforcement due to cultural and linguistic factors, and promoted collaboration between law enforcement and trained NGO and social service partners.
As part of the day’s training, we were thrilled with the opportunity to screen Honor Diaries for the investigators present. Honor Diaries is an award-winning film showcasing nine women who discuss abuses women face in the name of religion and culture. Ayaan Hirsi Ali acts as an executive producer for this film that brings awareness to the issues of honor violence, forced marriage and female genital mutilation.
Following Honor Diaries, Detective Balson detailed recent, real-life cases of forced marriage and honor violence that he has worked in cooperation with the AHA Foundation. During his presentation, he gave practical advice on complications that law enforcement officials are likely to encounter and tips on how to best handle them.
To complete the day, Detective Boughey gave an in-depth case study of the Noor Almaleki honor killing investigation. During his presentation of the case, he highlighted the various instances where the Almaleki homicide exemplified a “typical” case of honor violence.