Why banning the term “honour” based violence and conflating it with domestic violence will put victims at increased risk

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The Conservative MP for Wealden Nusrat Ghani, has proposed, in a new private members Bill – the Crime (Aggravated Murder of and Violence Against Women) Bill – that the use of the widely used and accepted term “honour” killing should be banned from official publications and that this form of violence against women and girls should be conflated with domestic violence. Both of these suggestions would have dangerous consequences for those at risk of “honour” based violence and lives will be put at risk.

“Honour” based violence and domestic violence are distinct forms of violence against women and girls, each with specific dynamics. Many women experience both, whilst some are at risk of “honour” based violence and not domestic violence. Each carries particular risks and requires different safeguarding approaches. These two forms of violence must not be conflated, and if they are, it is highly likely that there will be failures in safeguarding, resulting in serious harm and even “honour” killing.

Significantly, survivors endorse and own the term “honour” based violence. Many express relief that their experiences and the risks that they face will be understood and feel that it will help them to be safeguarded. The term is also understood within communities which is key for prevention work, as it is known what it is that needs to end.

“Honour” based violence is a well-established term and field of knowledge and expertise among professionals across the public and voluntary sectors and academics. To censor the term would put at risk the significant progress that has been made, including by the recent inspection into policing of “honour” based violence by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC), which involved close consultation with specialist BME “honour” based violence women’s organisations.

Rather than taking a huge step backwards, and excusing police failures, by censoring the term and therefore putting at risk the specific understanding gained, now is the time for action, including the implementation of HMIC’s recommendations. Police must be able to understand and identify “honour” based violence. Unless they can, preventable deaths like the “honour” killing of Banaz Mahmod are likely to be repeated.

Importantly, “honour” based violence is a global issue, the term is recognised in international instruments and cases are often transnational so banning the widely recognised terminology would cause many difficulties.

For these many reasons, we call on MP’s to prioritise the safety of women at girls at risk of “honour” based violence, and to oppose the Bill which is due for its’ second reading in the House of Commons on 24 March 2017.

Read more about IKWRO’s view in The Independent

If you would like to join IKWRO in opposing the Bill please contact our Campaign Officer Sara Browne at sara.browne@ikwro.org.uk

2 Responses to Why banning the term “honour” based violence and conflating it with domestic violence will put victims at increased risk

  1. Jane Monckton Smith says:

    The dynamics of coercive control (domestic abuse) and honour based violence are not the same. I work in the area of preventing homicide and violence, and I can say with some confidence that this would be a retrograde step. it would actually put lives at risk.

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