Honour Based Violence, FGM & Forced Marriage
Honour based violence
There is no specific offence of “honour based crime”. It is an umbrella term to encompass various offences covered by existing legislation. … “‘Honour based violence‘ is a crime or incident which has or may have been committed to protect or defend the honour of the family and/or community.”
‘Honour’ based violence (HBV) is a form of domestic abuse which is perpetrated in the name of so called ‘honour’. The honour code which it refers to is set at the discretion of male relatives and women who do not abide by the ‘rules’ are then punished for bringing shame on the family. Infringements may include a woman having a boyfriend; rejecting a forced marriage; pregnancy outside of marriage; interfaith relationships; seeking divorce, inappropriate dress or make-up and even kissing in a public place.
HBV can exist in any culture or community where males are in a position to establish and enforce women’s conduct, examples include: Turkish; Kurdish; Afghani; South Asian; African; Middle Eastern; South and Eastern European; Gypsy and the travelling community (this is not an exhaustive list).
Males can also be victims, sometimes as a consequence of a relationship which is deemed to be inappropriate, if they are gay, have a disability or if they have assisted a victim. In addition, the Forced Marriage Unit have issued guidance on Forced Marriage and vulnerable adults due to an emerging trend of cases where such marriages involving people with learning difficulties.
This is not a crime which is perpetrated by men only, sometimes female relatives will support, incite or assist. It is also not unusual for younger relatives to be selected to undertake the abuse as a way to protect senior members of the family. Sometimes contract killers and bounty hunters will also be employed.
Why risk assessment?
Perhaps the most famous case of ‘honour’-based violence (HBV) in this country remains the 2008 murder of Banaz Mahmood. And that’s because Banaz’s case really stirred things up. It drove the police to overhaul their response and write the first national HBV policing policy. The major failing in the police response to Banaz’s request for help was that they did not understand the context and therefore the risk signs of HBV. Consequently, they thought that her assessment of the threat to her own life was “hysterical” and unfounded. Her brutal murder a few days later showed just how misguided this was.
A key aim of risk assessment is to identify the contexts of abuse and help understand the threats to the victim. It enables professionals to help the victim safety-plan, manage risks and access the right interventions. Risk tools such as the 24-question DASH-RIC (used by police and domestic abuse services in England and Wales) draw on research from previous cases, and what victims say, to develop a checklist of questions professionals can ask to assess risk.
SafeLives Insights data published as part of the current Spotlight on ‘honour’-based violence and forced marriage shows that HBV cases were more likely to score high-risk (68%) than non-HBV domestic abuse cases (55%).
Female Genital Mutlilation (FGM)
What is FGM?
Female Genital Mutilation is the partial or complete removal of external female genitalia for non-medical reasons. It is mostly carried out – without anesthetic – on girls between infancy and age 15. FGM has zero health benefits and often results in lifelong health problems, increased risks during childbirth, psychological trauma, and even death.
Often rationalized as a rite of passage into womanhood, in reality FGM is an extreme form of violence used to control girls’ and women’s sexuality. It involves a mixture of cultural, social and religious traditions associated with preparing for adulthood and marriage, and ideals of community, modesty and fidelity. Most instances occur in Africa, Asia and the Middle East, but FGM is also practiced in Australia, Europe, Latin America, New Zealand and North America.
Getting help and support
All women and girls have the right to control what happens to their bodies and the right to say no to FGM. Help is available if you’ve had FGM or you’re worried that you or someone you know is at risk.
- If someone is in immediate danger, contact the police immediately by dialling 999.
- If you’re concerned that someone may be at risk, contact the NSPCC helpline on 0800 028 3550 or [email protected].
- If you’re under pressure to have FGM performed on your daughter, ask your GP, health visitor or other healthcare professional for help, or contact the NSPCC helpline.
- If you’ve had FGM, you can get help from a specialist NHS gynaecologist or FGM service – ask your GP, midwife or any other healthcare professional about services in your area. Download a list of NHS FGM clinics (PDF, 422kb).
- Link Clinic – Liverpool Women’s Hospital. Staffed by a specialist midwife/coordinator, both community and Children’s Centre midwives, and health link workers, the service offers a range of support aids including education and parenting classes, information leaflets and CDs. The clinic benefits from interpreters as well as a telephone interpreting service.
Address: Liverpool Women’s Hospital, Antenatal Clinic, Crown St, Liverpool L8 7SS
Clinic time: Mondays 9am and 1.30pm.
Tel No: 0151 702 4180 or 0151 702 4178
Contact: Joanne Topping
If you’re a health professional caring for a patient under 18 who has undergone FGM, you have professional responsibilities to safeguard and protect her. Guidance and resources about FGM for healthcare staff are available on the GOV.UK website.