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Honour Based Violence

Honour based violence includes:

“Honour” based abuse (HBA) or “honour” based violence (HBV): ‘So-called honour based violence is a crime or incident, which has or may have been committed to protect or defend the honour or the family and/or community’.

“Honour” based killings: ‘Murders within the framework of collective family structures, in which predominantly women are mutilated, imprisoned, forced to commit suicide and killed for actual or perceived immoral behaviour, which is deemed to have breached the honour codes of a household or community, causing shame.’ (Iranian and Kurdish Women’s Rights Organisation)

Often HBA/HBV and forced marriage are seen as synonymous, but there are differences. “Honour” based violence and abuse, which may include emotional, psychological, sexual and physical abuse, is a reaction to what is perceived as immoral behaviour that brings shame/izzat/namous/sharaf on the family or community.

These ‘immoral behaviours’ include:

  • running away, coming home late
  • ideological differences between parents and children
  • Westernisation
  • refusing an arranged marriage
  • relationships outside marriage
  • relationships outside the approved group
  • ‘inappropriate’ make up or dress
  • loss of virginity
  • pregnancy
  • homosexuality
  • reporting/fleeing domestic abuse, coercive and controlling behaviour, forced marriage
  • girls who ‘allow themselves to be raped’
  • causing gossip.

Sometimes a rumour about a family member doing one or more of the above is enough to elicit an abusive reaction.

Unlike domestic abuse where it is typically one person abusing another, in cases of HBA and forced marriage the perpetrators can be one or many including:

  • father and mother
  • brother and sister
  • grandparents
  • uncles, aunts, cousins
  • community members
  • bounty hunters/’hit men’

Crimes committed may include:

  • false imprisonment or kidnap
  • Domestic Servitude
  • ABH or GBH
  • threats to kill
  • harassment and stalking
  • sexual assault
  • rape
  • female genital mutilation
  • forced to commit suicide
  • Forced Marriage
  • murder

For every crime committed there are also numerous incidents of bullying, emotional and psychological abuse. Some victims have very restricted movements and are under constant supervision having little contact with the outside world.

One very important thing is that if there is a suggestion of HBA then family, friends and neighbours must NOT be automatically involved in any safety planning. Usually, in domestic abuse cases family, friends and neighbours, once they know of the issues, will rally round to offer support and keep an eye out for problems like calling police if a perpetrator turns up, but in HBA cases it is often very difficult to identify those that could condone or be coerced into accepting what is seen as a way of preserving the community’s heritage or culture. The victim will be able to say whom they do trust but family members may well have split loyalties so the safest course is to try to work outside the community.


  • At least 12 murders in the name of honour occur each year in the UK, although past murders are being reviewed to see if they are linked to HBA.
  • South Asian women in this country are 3 times more likely to commit suicide than their white counterparts.
  • There are 17,000 reported incidents of HBA or forced marriage in the UK each year.

There is no religious basis to HBA and forced marriage; they are widely condemned by all religious faiths and communities.

National Resources

Useful resources for Parents / Carers

Karma Nirvana is an award-winning British human rights charity supporting victims of honour-based abuse and forced marriage. Honour crimes are not determined by age, faith, gender or sexuality, we support and work with all victims. They operate a National helpline to support victims in immediate danger, Karma Nirvana offers training to professionals and in schools.

IKWRO (Iranian Kurdish Women’s Rights Organisation) is a registered charity committed to providing non-judgmental support to women who speak Kurdish, Arabic, Turkish, Farsi, Dari, Pashtu and English.

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