Honour-based abuse is a form of gender-based violence, and may include a range of different offences. There is currently no statutory definition of Honour Based Abuse but a common definition adopted across government and criminal justice agencies identify it as a crime or incident which has, or may have been, committed to protect or defend the honour of the family and/or community.
'The terms honour-based abuse, honour crime, honour-based violence and Izzat embrace a variety of incidents or crimes of violence (mainly but not exclusively against women), including physical abuse, sexual violence, abduction, forced marriage, imprisonment, and murder where the person is being punished by their family or community. They are punished for actually, or allegedly, undermining what the family or community believes to be the correct code of behaviour. In transgressing this, the person shows that they have not been properly controlled to conform by their family and this is to the shame of the family. Honour crime may be considered by the perpetrators as justified to protect or restore the honour of the family (Scottish Government, 2014)
 Some common forms of honour-based abuse include:
  • Forced Marriage: Coercing individuals into marrying against their will, often to uphold family honor or strengthen social ties.
  • Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C): This involves the partial or total removal of external female genitalia for non-medical reasons. It is often carried out as a way to control a woman's sexuality and preserve family honor.
  • Virginity testing
  • Enforced abortion
  • Physical and verbal abuse
  • Confinement
  • Abduction
  • Sexual abuse
  • Coercive control
  • Murder or "Honor Killings": In extreme cases, individuals believed to have brought shame upon their family might be subjected to violence, including murder, as a way to restore honor. These are often called "honor killings."
Although honour-based abuse is not confined to a single cultural or religious group, it is most commonly associated with cultures that place a strong emphasis on family reputation and control over individual choices, therefore is more prevalent within communities from South Asia, the Middle East, and North and East Africa. Reports come from Muslim, Sikh, Hindu, Orthodox Jewish and occasionally traveller communities.

'Honour’-based abuse can be perpetuated by family members, partners and ex-partners, and wider communities. It is primarily experienced by women and girls, but men may also be victims. When identifying or coming out as lesbian, gay, bisexual or trans may be a trigger for ‘honour’-based abuse for both men, women, and non-binary people. 
Please refer to Scottish Women's Rights Centre's guide on Reporting Forced Marriage and Honour Crimes - Your Rights that outlines reporting process and safety advice. For further information about the SWRC and its services please visit their website. Free helpline available on 8088 010 789, Tues: 6-9pm/Wed: 1.30-4.30pm/Fri: 10am-1pm.

Karma Nirvana provides advice and support for anyone affected by Honour-based abuse. Free helpline available on 0800 5999 247, Mon-Fri 9am-5pm.
 Scotland's Domestic Abuse and Forced Marriage Helpline provides support and advice 24/7. Call 0800 027 1234 or visit website for webchat and email options 

Shakti Women’s Aid supports black minority ethnic (BME) women who are experiencing or who have previously experienced domestic abuse. Contact: 0131 475 2399

For more services, please visit our External support agencies list.

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