'Honour' Based Abuse and Forced Marriage
Honour Based Abuse
The majority of victims of honour-based abuse (HBA) are women and girls, although it can include male victims too. It is also referred to as honour-based violence (HBV) or so called honour-based abuse/violence. HBA occurs when family members or friends believe that the victim has brought shame to the family or community; the shame can be defined as something that is not in keeping with traditionally held cultural beliefs of the family. HBA can occur if the person at risk has refused or is trying to leave a forced or arranged marriage; it might happen if the person has a pregnancy outside of marriage, is involved in a same sex relationship, chooses to dress in non-traditional clothing, wears make up or meets with someone from outside the culture or religion of the family. Reasons for HBA can include socialising with friends or doing activities that are not considered suitable within the family’s belief system.
HBA can include:
- Physical violence
- Threats of death or violence
- Sexual abuse
- Psychological abuse
- Being held against their will or not allowed to leave the home
- Forced to leave education
- Forced repatriation
- Abusive phone calls, emails, texts or other use of social media
This list is not exhaustive.
HBA can exist in communities where there is a hierarchical system which places men in a position of power over women and girls. It can include women from the traveller community, South Asia, Africa, the Middle East, South and Eastern Europe, women from Kurdish community, Turkey. This list is not definitive.
If HBA is suspected, it should be reported to the Police in order to protect the victim.
- Male Victims Spotlight Report (by Karma Nirvana)
- Forced Marriage Survivors Handbook (from the Forced Marriage Unit)
- Posters from the Forced Marriage Unit on 'I don't have to say yes' and 'I know where I can go'
- Our Relationships Shouldn't Hurt podcast episode on Forced Marriage and Honour Based Abuse (including transcript)
- Amina, the Muslim Women's Resource Centre, and Glasgow Women's Library have this resource about Honour Based Abuse and Intergenerational Trauma (the work centres on Scotland but is relevant across the UK)
- Listen to Sarah from Luton All Women's Centre discussing why Honour Based Abuse can happen and who can perpetrate it or what Honour Based Abuse can look like (these are short clips taken from our podcast series)
- Poster on Honour Based Abuse and Forced Marriage (as in the top right corner of this page)
A Forced Marriage is when either one or both of the partners have not consented to the marriage but have been coerced into it. The partners could have been victims of physical abuse with threats of further harm, and or physical or sexual violence if they do not marry; there could be psychological, financial, sexual or emotional abuse used to force someone to marry against their will. Often there is pressure placed on the young person who might be made to feel that they are bringing shame on their family if they do not marry.
If the adult is vulnerable or lacks the mental capacity to consent to the marriage, coercion is not required for the marriage to be considered forced.
Sometimes young people are removed from education and sent abroad where the marriage takes place. It is an offence for a UK national to be forced into a marriage outside the UK. Passports and other documents are removed from them to stop them returning to the UK.
A Forced Marriage is not the same as an Arranged Marriage; where both parties can choose if they want to marry. Forced Marriage is a criminal offence and has been since June 2016. The penalty for forcing someone to marry can be a 7-year custodial sentence.
Support for those affected by Forced Marriage
Forced Marriage Protection Orders (FMPO)
Forced Marriage Protection Orders can be obtained to protect the person who has been or is being forced into marriage. The orders are individualised according to the circumstances of the victim. The order can demand that:
- Passports and relevant travel documents are handed over
- Intimidation and violence stops
- The whereabouts of a person have to be revealed (if they are being held somewhere)
- Prevent someone being taken abroad against their will.
A FMPO can be applied for by:
- Anyone at risk of forced marriage or who has been forced into marriage
- A ‘relevant’ third party i.e. a Local Authority
- Any other person who is given permission by the court.
More information on FMPO’s can be found here, https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/714583/fl701-eng.pdf
The penalty for breaching a FMPO can result in up to a 5-year prison sentence.
Download the Government's leaflet What is Forced Marriage? Here
Luton All Women’s Centre (LAWC) is a charity that supports women experiencing or who have experienced forced marriage, honour-based abuse and FGM. We support individuals across Bedfordshire, and professionals who are working with a woman affected by these issues.