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Honour-based violence

So-called ‘honour-based’ violence (HBV) encompasses incidents or crimes which have been committed to protect or defend the honour of the family and/or the community, including female genital mutilation (FGM), forced marriage, and practices such as breast ironing. Abuse committed in the context of preserving “honour” often involves a  wider network of family or community pressure and can include multiple perpetrators.

It is important to be aware of this dynamic and additional risk factors when deciding what form of safeguarding action to take. All forms of HBV are abuse (regardless of the motivation) and should be handled and escalated as such. Professionals in all agencies, and individuals and groups in relevant communities, need to be alert to the possibility of a child being at risk of HBV, or already having suffered HBV.

The concept of ‘honour’ is for some communities extremely important. To compromise a family’s ‘honour’ is to bring shame and this can have severe consequences. Individuals are expected to behave in a way that protects perceived cultural and religious belief s and/or honour. When behaviour is considered to breach this expectation, it is thought to bring shame on the family and/or community. The punishment for bringing dishonour can be emotional abuse, physical abuse, family disownment and in some cases even murder.

In most honour-based abuse cases there are multiple perpetrators from the immediate family, sometimes the extended family and occasionally the community at large. Mothers, sisters, aunties and even grandmothers have been known to be involved in the conspiring of honour crimes.

Honour based abuse will often go hand in hand with forced marriages, although this is not always the case.

Updates and changes


These pages are updated regularly and should be used as the main source of information.  Printed versions should be used with care as they can become out of date.