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Honour-based Abuse (HBA)

The facts

What is HBA?

HBA is abuse that is motivated by the belief that someone in the family has brought shame or dishonour to their family or community.

Most HBA is perpetrated against girls and women but boys and men can also be at risk.

There may be multiple perpetrators, most often fathers, brothers and uncles, but female relatives can also be involved.

The victim is abused to “correct behaviour” or restore the reputation of the family in the community. The abuse may be verbal, physical, sexual or financial and constitute various criminal offences, such as forced marriage, coercive control or murder.

It is estimated that one girl or woman is killed every month in the name of “honour”.


Who is at risk of HBA?

Both males and females can be victims of HBA, however, girls and women are at the highest risk. This is because the honour of the family is often seen to beembodied in the behaviour of girls and women. Most female victims are aged between 13 and 30, however, there have been victims as young as 2 and a woman aged 71.

Whilst there are more female victims of HBA, boys and men may also be at risk if their families want to ensure they marry a family member, for example. The risk is higher for boys and men who aregay, have a disability or mental health needs.

Some 8-10,000 British nationals are forced into marriage each year, and a quarter of victims are under the age of 18. In the UK, most victims of HBA originate from South Asian countries, such as Pakistan and Bangladesh. Victims also originate from Eastern European, Middle Eastern and African countries.


Who are the perpetrators?

There are often multiple perpetrators of HBA – these might be family members, extended family or the wider community. It is important to note that females can also be perpetrators, though most HBA is perpetrated by men.


Why does HBA happen?

The concept of honour is used as a way of maintaining power and control over others, especially women and girls. There are complex motives for HBA abuse, such as controlling unwanted behaviour, protecting cultural ideals and controlling female sexuality.



HBA can be physical, such as being beaten, raped or forced into marriage. HBA can also take place without any obvious physical violence. For example, a victim may be blackmailed, threatened, isolated or subject to financial abuse.



Whilst there is no specific offence of honour-based abuse, the Crown Prosecution Service will recognise honour-based abuses as incidents or crimes under current legislative powers e.g. rape.


Forced marriage is illegal in the UK


It is illegal to:

– Force an individual to marry against their will.

– Use violence, threats or deception to cause another person to leave the UK for the purpose of a forced marriage.

– Breach a Forced Marriage Protection Order.

– Marry someone who lacks the mental capacity to consent to the marriage (whether they are pressured or not).


Forcing someone into marriage can lead to up to 7 years in prison.


Breaching the terms of a Forced Marriage Protection Order can lead to up to 5 years in prison.


  1. 1 IKWRO (2014) Postcode lottery: police recording of reported ‘honour’ based violence [online] Available at: http://ikwro.org.uk/wp-content/ uploads/2014/02/HBV-FOI-report-Post-code-lottery-04.02.2014-Final.pdf


If you are suffering HBA or concerned about being forced into marriage, please don’t suffer in silence. You can get help and support.

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