The Times – The secret violence that challenges Britain’s Asians<br/> This conspiracy of silence over immigrant brides must end, by Sunny Hundal (founder of the think-tank New Generation Network. He blogs at Lost In Translation is on BBC Asian Network today at 6.30pm)

This Government, instead of making small noises about deploring violence against women and not tolerating so-called honour killings, needs to take firm steps in fully supporting such women if they face domestic abuse. At present most victims face not only difficulty getting access to social support but also have to go to extraordinary lengths to prove they are genuine victims.

The legislation also needs to change to put the naturalisation process into women’s hands, rather than that of their partners. One activist described the Government’s attitude as racist because it discriminated against these victims on the basis of their nationality.

Labour has also failed to take meaningful action against forced marriages, which is part of the broader problem.

There is also a need to ensure these women become active British citizens. Last week the Commission for Integration and Cohesion said that new entrants to the UK should learn English. But teaching English is not just about integration. More important is that it is empowering.

Most campaigners I spoke to agreed that language was a key barrier in learning more about British society and getting help. Translation services are part of this problem — taking away the woman’s incentive to learn English, whether or not her husband lets her. Rather than funding these services the Government should phase them out while expanding ESOL (English for speakers of foreign languages) classes, which have miserably failed to keep up with demand.

In addition, we need greater self-reflection of the attitudes of many Asians who not only use culture or religion as a cover for controlling women, but also invoke “family honour” as a means to hide abuse underneath their very noses.

“Self”-reflection, eh?

Progressive voices from within the British Asian community and outside need to help and empower these brides as women, not simply ignore them as unfortunate victims of cultural attitudes.