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Honour Based Violence

There is neither honour nor justification in these horrific acts and the degradation of a woman’s human rights…

Honour Based Violence (HBV)

So-called ‘honour’-based crimes are categorised by the Government as a form of domestic violence. An ‘honour’-based crime is a crime that is, or has been explained by the perpetrator of the crime as being, committed as a consequence of the need to protect or defend the honour of the family.

( Together we can End Violence Against Women and Girls: A Consultation Paper – Home Office, March 2009)

Protecting the honour of family and kin is fundamental to Middle East societies. In a culture in which bonds between people count for so much, having a good reputation contributes to you and your family members prestige or status. Honour (sheref) derives from a variety of sources; hard work, wealth and generosity all bring honour, and there is a rigorous compulsion upon women to retain their virginity and later to refrain from extra marital sexual relationships. In society, women are expected to keep cirh (female honour) free from ‘contamination’ at all costs, however similar restrictions do not apply to men. Conversley, it is commonly reported that men visit prostitutes in the town and the cities with comparative freedom, and aren’t subjected to similar degradation of their ‘honour’ on this basis.

The Arabic word for virgin (adhra) is a feminine noun used to refer to women only. There is no masculine equivalent for this word.  The honour of the entire lineage rests on women’s sexual behaviour.  In many Muslim societies there is no hesitation about celebrating a girl’s sexuality in very open ways.  The stigma of dishonour of losing one’s honour/virginity could only be washed of by blood and blood alone is the mark of an honour on the wedding night. The blood proud out on the white towel which was held to fluster above people’s heads.  The women let out a chorus of shrill you yous and the drums beat. The breasts of the men and the husband could now swell.  For honour means the honour of the male to protect and control and the proof of it is in the body of the female.

Honour-based violence both in the UK and abroad tends to occur on a collective basis, i.e. multiple members of the family or whole families are involved. This makes these crimes highly complex and presents a higher risk to the woman concerned.

“Murders in the name of ‘so-called’ honour, (often called Honour killings) are murders in which predominantly women are killed for actual or perceived immoral behaviour which is deemed to have brought shame on the family.” – Halo Project

Common motivations for HBV include:

  • Refusing an arranged marriage
  • Having a relationship with someone the family has not approved of
  • Perceived loss of virginity
  • Pregnancy
  • Attempts to gain custody of children post divorce
  • Spending time without the supervision of a family member
  • Reporting domestic violence
  • Attempting or refusing divorce

If you or someone you know is at risk of honour-based violence, please call KMEWO on 020 7263 1027 or 07748 851125

Freephone 24 Hour National Domestic Violence Helpline 0808 2000 247

Call the Police on 999

Resources:

Honour Based Violence Network

The Halo Project

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