'Honour' Based Abuse and Forced Marriage

Honour Based Abuse

Honour Based Abuse and Forced Marriage poster

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.

Further Resources

Forced Marriage

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.

Contact the Forced Marriage Unit on 020 7008 0151 or via fmu@fco.gov.uk. Further information can be found on the Gov.uk website, www.gov.uk/forced-marriage.

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.

LAWC  offers also training in Harmful Practices to any group of professionals. Call us on 01582 416783 or email support@lawc.org.uk or visit our website www.lutonallwomenscentre.org.uk

It doesn't hurt to ask for help