So-called “honour” based abuse covers a range of forms of patriarchal violence, perpetrated mainly against women and girls. It is motivated by enforcing “honour” codes, to punish and prevent behavior perceived to be shameful, to send a message to the community and silence any potential challengers.

Behavior perceived to be shameful might include; unapproved of dress or make-up, doubt over virginity, being a victim of sexual abuse, resisting an arranged marriage, reporting domestic violence, seeking divorce, being or being suspected of being LGBTQ+, choosing not to practice the religion you were born into and other actions some of which may appear trivial. Rumours about a persons’ supposed behaviour can also trigger “honour” based abuse.

“Honour” based abuse is pre-meditated and planned and often includes collective involvement of family and community members, which can include women and, in some cases, hired criminals. Perpetrators of the harmful practice often show no remorse and may demonstrate pride in their actions which they claim protect family “honour”.

“Honour” based abuse cases can escalate very quickly. It is common for the level of risk to be underestimated by the victim/ survivor and the risk can continue throughout their lifetime.

It can take many forms of abuse including physical, emotional, and psychological abuse, “honour” killing, forced marriage, rape, corrective rape, conversion therapy, forced suicide, acid attacks, mutilation, imprisonment, beatings, death threats, blackmail, shunning, disownement, surveillance, Female Genital Mutilation, harassment, virginity testing, enforced hymenoplasty, forced abortion and abductions.

There is no honour in abuse. The term “honour” based abuse is used and understood in many languages, in international law and by academics. The motivation of perceived “honour” is the key element linking the many types of abusive acts it covers. It is important to understand the distinct characteristics of “honour” based abuse and not to conflate it with other forms of violence against women and girls, such as domestic abuse, as this can dangerously undermine the ability to safeguard those at risk. Identifying and naming it as “honour” based abuse, is also a crucial part of an individual’s journey to breaking away from the “honour” system and seeking help. Neither culture nor religion should ever be used as a justification for abuse; there is no justification for abuse.

For many years, research by IKWRO on police data, provided the only official statistics on the prevalence of “honour” based abuse and it’s publication, along with our campaigning, helped to achieve the first national review of policing of “honour” based abuse and led to mandatory police recording which is now reported annually by the government.

IKWRO plays a leading role in ending all forms of “honor” based abuse. We have increased understanding of “honour” based abuse and of best practice responses to it. IKWRO ensures that tackling the harmful practice, in particular through prevention and protection, remains on the agenda of government and the statutory authorities.


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