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Honour Based Violence including Forced Marriage

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What is Honour Based Violence?

Honour Based Violence is a collection of practices, which are used to control behaviour within families or other social groups 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.

“It is a violation of human rights and may be a form of domestic and/or sexual violence. There is no, and cannot be, honour or justification for abusing the human rights of others” (CPS).

So-called honour based violence can include:

  • murder
  • un-explained death (suicide)
  • domestic imprisonment
  • kidnapping and abduction of children
  • forced marriages
  • female genital mutilation
  • acid attacks
  • rape

It is widely quoted that there are around 12 Honour murders a year in the UK. In 2014 11,000 honour-based crimes were recorded by police forces and 1,400 cases were handled by the Forced Marriage Unit in 2016

Safe Lives have produced a spotlight report on Honour Based Violence and Forced Marriage The report highlights that where honour-based violence is identified in court 76% of victims are female. The report identifies the additional issue that almost a quarter of victims were not eligible for most benefits, adding to the barriers for escape.

Read the report here

The National Council of Chiefs of Police produced a strategy in 2015

Read the Strategy here


Right to Choose: the consequences of forced marriage

Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 made Forced Marriage a specific offence under s121.

“A Forced Marriage Protection Order (FMPO) is a civil remedy issued under the FM (Civil Protection) Act 2007. It offers protection to a victim from all civil or religious ceremonies, by forbidding the respondent(s) themselves, or by encouraging or agreeing with any person whatsoever, from entering into any agreements in relation to the engagement or matrimony. A FMPO may contain such prohibitions, restrictions or requirements and any other such terms as the court considers appropriate for the purposes of the order. An application for a FMPO can be made by a victim, a person obtaining the court’s permission to apply for an order on behalf of the victim, a relevant third party or by the court of its own volition.” (CPS)
A breach of a FMPO is a criminal offence under s120 of the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014.

Policing and Crime Act 2017 (section 173) provides lifelong anonymity for victims of Forced Marriage.

There is currently no specific legislation in regards to so called Honour Based Violence. Each criminal act is dealt with under the relevant violence legislation. However, it is identified as one of the types of gender-based violence under the Violence Against Women, Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence (Wales) Act 2015.

Educare Raising Awareness of Honour-Based Abuse and Forced Marriage:
The course was written in partnership with Karma Nirvana, and is endorsed by Commander Ivan Balhatchet the National Police Chief’s Council Lead for Honour Based Violence, Forced Marriage and FGM. It is a CPD certified course.

Eyst Forced Marriage and Honour Based Violence: Understanding the Issue and Supporting Individuals

Virtual College Awareness of Forced Marriage. A free online course that has been developed with the Forced Marriage Unit and aims to raise awareness, challenge perceptions and inform of the correct actions to take should you suspect someone is at risk.

Hafan Cymru have a 2 hour course on Forced Marriage and a 2 hour course on Honour Based Violence

Find the course here

The Community Safety Podcast on the 19 March 2021 was an Honour Based Violence Special with Caroline Goode QPM

Find the podcast here  (85 minutes) .

Useful Links

Karma Nirvana: Support victims of honour-based abuse and forced marriage.

UK helpline

0800 5999 247

Visit the website

Live Fear Free Helpline

0800 80 10 800

or email

The Forced Marriage Unit

IKWRO (Iranian and Kurdish Women’s Rights Organisation) protects Middle Eastern and Afghan women and girls who are at risk of ‘honour’ based violence, forced marriage, child marriage, female genital mutilation and domestic violence and to promote their rights.

Visit the site

The SHARAN Project provides support, advice for vulnerable women, particularly of South Asian origin, who have left home forcefully or voluntarily as a result of disownment; threat of domestic or honour-based violence; forced marriage and other forms of cultural conflict.

Visit the site

Victim Support provides emotional and practical help to victims or witnesses of any crime, whether or not it has been reported to the police.

Visit the site


Honour-based abuse is defined as ‘an incident or crime involving violence, threats of violence, intimidation coercion or abuse (including psychological, physical, sexual, financial or emotional abuse) which has or may have been committed to protect or defend the honour of an individual, family and/ or community for alleged or perceived breaches of the family and/or community’s code of behaviour’.

Domestic abuse is a form of honour-based violence (HBV), but the key difference is the number of people involved and the level of involvement of wider family and community. HBV is related to the over all control a family has over a women’s behaviour. In a case of HBV, there may be a large number of potential perpetrators, and an even higher number of persons willing to plan or be involved in violent acts.

If you are experiencing or afraid that you are at risk of honour-based violence or forced marriage, there are people that you can speak to who will be able to provide you with help and support, in confidence.


It is unlikely that an individual (particularly children and young people) will make friends, acquaintances or professionals aware that they are in either a forced marriage (FM) or suffering from ‘honour’ based violence (HBV). It is therefore important to know some potential indicators.

The following are just some signs that may occur in specific settings:

  • withdrawal of student from education setting or prevention of continuing studies
  • request for extended leave or not returning from overseas holiday
  • surveillance by other family members in education facility
  • decline in physical presentation or demeanour, or in behaviour, engagement and performance.

  • patient constantly being accompanied to appointments
  • mental health – self harm, eating disorders, depression, isolation, attempted suicide
  • early, unwanted or constant pregnancy
  • unexplained injuries

Help and support

For victims, families and concerned people

Forced Marriage
If someone is being forced to marry in the UK then the Forced Marriage Unit Helpline can be contacted on

020 7008 0151 (9-5pm)

or outside of those hours call

020 7008 1500  (ask for the Global Response Centre).

If someone is being taken out of the UK and forced to marry then the Forced Marriage Unit can be contacted on

020 7008 0151 and explain what is happening.

The Forced Marriage Unit can assist in getting a Forced Marriage Protection Order.

If the person is already at the airport or travelling, they can speak to security staff or police officers at an airport. If the person is already abroad then contact the British Embassy in the country where you are they can get help for you to leave the country and stay safe.

Honour Based Violence

The Live Fear Free Helpline is a 24 hour helpline and can provide support when it is needed.

0808 80 10 800.