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Honour Based Violence

What is Honour Based Violence?

The CPS and ACPO have a common definition of honour based violence: ‘Honour based violence is a crime or incident, which has or may have been committed to protect or defend the honour of the family and / or community’.

The terms “honour crime” or “honour-based violence” or “izzat” embrace a variety of crimes of violence (mainly but not exclusively against women), including assault, imprisonment and murder, where the person is being punished by their family or their community. Victims are being punished for actually, or allegedly, undermining what the family or community believes to be the correct code of behaviour. In transgressing this correct code of behaviour, the person shows that they have not been properly controlled to conform by their family and this is to the “shame” or “dishonour” of the family.

Women are predominantly (but not exclusively) the victims of ‘so called honour based violence’, which is used to assert male power in order to control female autonomy and sexuality. “Honour Based Violence” can be distinguished from other forms of violence, as it is often committed with some degree of approval and/or collusion from family and/or wider community members, and as such means that the threat and risk to victims can be extensive. Such crimes cut across all cultures, nationalities, faith groups and communities. They transcend national and international boundaries. Isolation is a key factor in why victims do not come forward. The policing of the victim often includes entire communities. This not only raises the risk of further violence and abuse from these individuals but can leave victims extremely isolated within their own communities and feeling as though they have no way out, this in turn can in some cases lead to suicide. Research indicates that the suicide rates among this client group are higher than within other communities.

Who Commits Honour Based violence?

Honour based violence is often carried out by family members (including women) or extended family members both in the UK and abroad. Community or religious leaders may become involved and in more extreme cases the family may employ bounty hunters or contract killers.

The “One-Chance” Rule

All practitioners working with victims of forced marriage and honour-based violence need to be aware of the “one chance” rule. That is, they may only have one chance to speak to a potential victim and thus they may only have one chance to save a life. This means that all practitioners working within statutory agencies need to be aware of their responsibilities and obligations when they come across a forced marriage case. If the victim is allowed to walk out of the door without support being offered, that one chance might be wasted.

Female Genital Mutilation

Female genital mutilation (FGM) is a procedure where the female genitals are deliberately cut, injured or changed, but where there’s no medical reason for this to be done.

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Further sources of help and advice

HBV and Forced Marriages
Further links for immigration, asylum, financial and domestic violence support and information