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Honour based violence

What is honour based violence?

So-called honour based violence is a term used to describe violence committed against a woman or a girl (or sometimes men) who the family or the community feels has not followed what they believe is acceptable behaviour and has brought dishonour or shame to the family.

What sort of behaviours lead to so-called ‘honour’ based violence?

Women and girls can experience violence or, in the most extreme form, be killed for a wide variety of behaviours, which can range from very trivial, such as talking to a male who is not a relative to being sexually assaulted or raped. Some common ’behaviours’ are:

  • defying their parents
  • talking to a male who is not related to the family
  • seeking a divorce or seeking residence of the children after divorce
  • refusing to marry a man chosen by the family (rejecting a forced marriage)
  • sexual relationships or pregnancy before or outside of marriage (including kissing or intimacy in public)
  • becoming ‘western’ (wearing make-up or clothes deemed inappropriate, having male friends or boyfriends from another faith etc.)
  • gossip (rumours can damage the ‘honour’ of a family)
  • using drugs or drinking alcohol
  • being sexually assaulted or raped
  • being homosexual.

Is ‘honour’ based violence linked to religion?

‘Honour’ based violence is not a religious based issue it has been recorded in communities practising every major religion, including Jewish, Sikh, Christian, Hindu and Muslim communities. The underlying belief behind ‘honour’ based violence is to maintain the control over women by the men within the family or community by denying women autonomy over their lives – including decisions such as who to marry, their sex lives or divorce and their human rights.

How can I safely help someone who may be subjected to 'honour' based violence?

  • Encourage them to contact a local support service or someone they trust
  • Encourage them to report to the police and to the Forced Marriage Unit to help them to be safe if they suspect they may be forced into marriage
  • If they are worried about being taken overseas, help them to make a copy of their passport and keep it in a safe place
  • Help them to make a safety plan to keep themselves safe

Honour based violence: support services

If you are in immediate risk call 999 or 112 (from a mobile) for the Police

Local Support Services

Ashiana Network
Forced Marriage, Honour Based Violence, Domestic violence and Female Genital Mutilation, no recourse to public funds

National/London Services

Forced Marriage Unit: 020 7008 0151

Iranian, Kurdish Women’s Rights Organisation: 020 7920 6460
Forced Marriage, Honour Based Violence, Domestic Violence and Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)
For out-of-hours emergencies call: