Domestic abuse can happen in any culture or community. Sometimes abusive behaviour is justified by cultural or religious values but there are no legitimate reasons for abusive behaviour. Below are some examples of commonly practised forms of violence that are frequently committed in the name of so called 'honour', religious practice or cultural values.
Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), or female circumcision as it sometimes called, is a forced procedure where genitals are cut. Often the purpose is to damage or remove the labia and/or clitoris. This practice is believed in some communities to safeguard chastity and fidelity. However, it is widely recognised as an act of abuse, designed to restrict women’s sexuality and cause them significant physical and emotional trauma. FGM can be life-threatening and causes devastating emotional distress. In the UK it is against the law to perform FGM, assist a girl to carry it out on herself or arrange for FGM to be carried out on a girl overseas. If you feel you or someone you know is at risk of FGM or you have experienced it, you can call our Referral and Advice helpline on 020 8317 8273.
Honour based violence (HBV) is a form of domestic abuse which is often enforced within a family or community. Women are commonly targeted by honour-based violence for breaking social conventions including being in a relationship that is not approved of, rejecting a forced marriage, becoming pregnant outside of marriage, or wearing clothes the family do not approve of. Men can also experience honour -based violence particularly if they identify as gay. Trans men and women, gender non conforming individuals and members of the LGBTQI+ community in general are also particularly at risk. Honour based violence is against the law in the U.K. If you or someone you know is experiencing HBV please feel free to contact our confidential Referral and Advice line on 020 8317 8273.
Breast ironing, sometimes called breast flattening, involves the beating of young girls developing breasts in order to stunt, reverse or prevent their development. It is common for the painful procedure which can take weeks or months to be completed, to be performed using hot instruments such as spatulas, hammers or stones. Breast ironing is carried out because it is believed that the development of breasts may invite sexually predatory behaviour from men. Any intervention of this kind is an act of abuse. If you or someone you know has experienced or is at risk of experiencing this procedure please feel free to contact our Referral and Advice line on 020 8317 8273.
Forced marriage involves individuals pressuring or intimidating a person into a marriage they have not consented to. Sometimes these marriages are arranged overseas by family members in secret. In the UK you cannot be forced into marriage; it is against the law even if the marriage takes place overseas. If you feel under pressure to marry somebody you do not want to, you can call our confidential phone line on 020 8317 8273.
Karma Nirvana - A registered charity which operates nationally, supporting victims and survivors of forced marriages and honour-based violence.
Southall Black Sisters - Southall Black Sisters provides information, advice, advocacy, practical help, counselling and support to women and children experiencing domestic and other forms of gender-related violence.