‘Honour based’ abuse is an umbrella term used to describe a broad range of behaviours perpetrated by individuals, groups or communities to control and punish a member of the family or social group, for behaviours that are perceived to go against those expected, bringing ‘dishonour’ to the family or community. The community, family or individuals within the family may use violence, threats, intimidation, and other forms of abuse to control or punish the person deemed to be transgressing.
In the UK, it is reported that between 10 and 15 women are murdered every year due to so called ‘honour based’ abuse. However, the real figure could be much higher as some killings may be planned in the UK but carried out abroad and the figure may not include cases where the victim has been pressured into suicide.
There is no standard definition of Honour Based Abuse (HBA). However, the National Police Chief Council (NPCC) have provided guidance and a definition to Police Forces:
“an incident or crime involving violence, threats of violence, intimidation, coercion or abuse (including psychological, physical, sexual, financial or emotional abuse), which has or may have been committed to protect or defend the honour of an individual, family and or community for alleged or perceived breaches of the family and / or community’s code of behaviour”. National Police Chief Council
There are calls for this definition to be further developed and recognise that HBA is a ‘course of conduct’ or pattern of abuse, and a culturally specific form of coercive and controlling behaviour.
HBA is high-risk as it can involve multiple people conspiring against the victim and any authorities who may become involved. Perpetrators may be inside and/or outside of the family, in the UK and/or overseas due to shared codes of ‘honour’. Therefore, it can be organised and involve an international dimension.
If you are at risk, or if you are concerned for someone who is, there are services available to listen and help. You can find their details at the bottom of this page.
This short video was made by Southall Black Sisters in conjunction with Bold Face productions. It is a hard-hitting piece that raises the issue of ‘honour-based’ abuse. The women in the video speak bravely about their experiences of honour-based abuse and its impact on their lives and the lives of other women.
In this video, Nina Aouilk, a survivor of so called ‘honour-based’ violence tells her story and shares her ideas for how this type of violence can be prevented.
Who can help me?
In an emergency, or if you or someone else is at immediate risk of harm, dial 999.
Victim Support – If you’ve been affected by crime, call The London Victim and Witness Service (LVWS) on 0808 168 9291. Lines are open 8am-8pm, Monday to Friday. If you need support outside of these hours, you can call the Supportline for free on 08 08 16 89 111. Or find other ways to get help.
Ashiana Network – delivering refuges, advocacy and counselling services which specialise in helping Black and Minority Ethnic women affected by domestic/sexual violence, including forced marriage and ‘honour-based’ abuse. To make a referral for the advice, counselling or support group services please contact 0208 539 0427 or email firstname.lastname@example.org