Victims and Witnesses of Crime
Honour Based Violence (HBV)
So-called '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’ is a
fundamental abuse of Human Rights. There is no honour in the
commission of murder, rape, kidnap and the many other acts,
behaviour and conduct which make up ‘violence in the name of
so-called honour’. The simplicity of the above definition is not
intended in any way to minimise the levels of violence, harm and
hurt caused by the perpetration of such acts.
It is a collection of practices,
which are used to control behaviour within families to protect
perceived cultural and religious beliefs and/or honour. Such
violence can occur when perpetrators perceive that a relative has
shamed the family and / or community by breaking their honour code.
Women are predominantly (but not exclusively) the victims of ‘so
called honour based violence’, which is used to assert male power
in order to control female autonomy and sexuality.
So-called 'honour based violence’
can be distinguished from other forms of violence, as it is often
committed with some degree of approval and/or collusion from family
and / or community members. Examples may include murder,
un-explained death (suicide), fear of or actual forced marriage,
controlling sexual activity, domestic abuse (including
psychological, physical, sexual, financial or emotional abuse),
child abuse, rape, kidnapping, false imprisonment, threats to kill,
assault, harassment, forced abortion. This list is not
So-called 'honour based violence’
cuts across all cultures, nationalities.
Some of the practices associated
with HBV are described below:
‘Murders in the name of so-called
honour’ are murders where victims are killed for their perceived
immoral behaviour, which is deemed to have breached the honour code
of a family or community, causing shame. They are sometimes called
‘honour killings’. There is, however, no honour in murder.
Domestic Violence and Abuse
Domestic abuse and violence against
women cuts across all communities, cultures and religious belief
systems. In fact, much of HBV is rooted within domestic abuse.
Even within the UK domestic abuse
was not previously seen as unacceptable and only in recent times
has the depth of the crime been highlighted. For example, in
England marital rape was not even considered a crime until
For members of communities that
have emigrated into the UK, domestic abuse may have been socially
accepted or even permitted under the law of their country of
origin. They may also believe that their religious belief system
permits such acts.
HBV cases can involve the abduction
of victims and children from the UK. This can be undertaken for an
array of reasons - most notably Forced Marriage.
“In an acid attack, a man throws
acid (the kind found in car batteries) on the face of a girl or
woman. Any number of reasons can lead to acid attacks. A delayed
meal or the rejection of a marriage proposal is offered as
justification for a man to disfigure a woman with acid. Sulphuric
acid is ubiquitous, being the basic, inexpensive ingredient for
making lead acid batteries in all motorised vehicles all over the
“The custom of blood feuds derives
from age-old tribal laws that proclaim that blood must be avenged
with blood. These feuds are particularly prevalent in the Balkans,
Caucasus region and South Asia.
What lies at the heart of blood
feuds is not punishment, but satisfaction that the honour and the
reputation of the individual or family has been restored.”
This is described as a marriage
without the full and free consent of both parties where duress is a
factor. It cannot be accepted under any cultural or religious
grounds and is a fundamental breach of Human Rights. Forced
Marriages should not be confused with the tradition of Arranged
Marriages. In Arranged Marriages the families of both spouses take
a leading role in arranging the marriage but the choice whether to
accept the arrangement remains with the individual.
(Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Honour based violence and the
emotional and the physical abuse associated with it can play an
important role in the circumstances of suicide.
Self-harm is the deliberate injury
to one's own body. The injury may be aimed at relieving otherwise
unbearable emotions, sensations of unreality or numbness . It can
be associated with mental illnesses, pressure, trauma, abuse and
with characteristics such as perfectionism. Although self- harm may
be seen by some as attention seeking behaviour, many conceal their
actions from others.
In the United Kingdom common law
rape has traditionally been described as a man who forces a woman
to have sexual intercourse with him.
Previously it was believed that
forced sex by a husband against his wife (marital rape) was not
rape, or even a crime until 1991. Both partners were deemed to have
given implicit informed consent in advance to a lifelong sexual
relationship as part of their marriage.
Modern criminal law eliminates this
exception and includes acts of sexual violence other than vaginal
intercourse, such as forced anal intercourse, which were
traditionally barred under sodomy laws.
Female Genital Mutilation
“Female genital mutilation is the
term used to refer to the removal of part, or all, of the female
genitalia. The procedure consists of a clitoridectomy (where all,
or part of, the clitoris is removed), excision and cutting of the
‘labia majora’ to create raw surfaces, which are then stitched or
held together in order to form a cover over the vagina when they
heal. A small hole is left to allow urine and menstrual blood to
We understand how difficult the
position is for those faced with Honour Based Violence and we also
recognise the enormous cultural issues that can make reporting this
type of very personal crime to the Police or any third party
In recognition of this the
Constabulary has a number of officers who specialise in
investigating and supporting victims of this type of crime.
We recognise that to do so we need
to gain your confidence and trust which we aim to do by
investigating the matter sensitively and cautiously whilst
maintaining your confidentiality.
The specialist investigators, based
within our Harm Reduction Unit will provide you with a personal,
empathetic and confidential service which respects and understands
the type of cultural issues that sit behind this type of crime.
Officers in our Harm Reduction
Unit are specially trained to deal with victims of these
serious and very personal crimes. You can be confident that
if you call, you will be treated with respect and in
confidence. If you would like to speak to an officer in the
Harm Reduction Unit, please telephone 101 and request to speak to a member
of the team. In an emergency, dial 999.
You may find these documents below
Marriage Survivor’s Handbook
Forced Marriage Information Leaflet
The Forced Marriage Unit at the
Foreign and Commonwealth Office can provide advice and guidance in
relation to British Nationals being forced into marriage