The concept of ‘honour’ is for some communities deemed to be extremely important. To compromise a family’s ‘honour’ is to bring dishonour and shame and this can have severe consequences. 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.
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, which 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.
Males can also be victims, sometimes as a consequence of their involvement in what is deemed to be an inappropriate relationship, if they are gay, or if they are believed to be supporting the victim.
Honour based abuse cuts across all cultures, nationalities, faith groups and communities, usually where a culture is heavily male dominated. Relatives, including females, may conspire, aid, abet or participate in honour based abuse, for what might seem a trivial transgression.
What possible offences are being committed?
Honour based abuse is a serious offence which can involve a number of crimes:
- Common assault
- Domestic abuse
- Forced marriage
- Cruelty to persons under 16 (including neglect and abandonment)
- Failure to secure regular attendance at school of a registered pupil
- Theft (e.g. passport)
- Child abduction
- Abduction of an unmarried girl under the age of 16 from parent or guardian
- Abduction of a woman by force or for the sake of her property
- Forced repatriation
- Aiding and abetting a criminal offence
- False imprisonment
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