News – Women and Equalities Committee – So-called honour-based abuse inquiry launched

The Women and Equalities Committee launch an inquiry into so-called honour-based abuse, as part of its work on preventing violence against women and girls.

The Committee’s inquiry aims to understand more about the nature and prevalence of abuse committed to protect or defend the so-called honour of an individual, family or community. Research indicates that abuse motivated by so-called honour is most often directed at women, with crimes including murder, female genital mutilation, forced marriage and physical and psychological abuse.

There were 2,887 honour-based abuse-related offences recorded by the police in England and Wales in the year ending in March 2022, though the Home Office says it is a hidden crime and these are likely to only represent a small proportion of the actual offences committed that year.

MPs are interested in exploring the barriers faced by victims of such abuse in seeking support or protection. The police response and the legal protections for victims will also be examined in the inquiry.

Chair’s comment

Committee member leading the inquiry, Kim Johnson MP, said:

“Honour-based abuse has been brought to our attention several times as an important area to investigate.

“We know that the true number of offences is likely to be much higher than reported and more must be done to make sure victims feel safe enough to seek help.

“We want to understand more about who commits this kind of abuse and in what contexts, so that it can be better countered, and its victims better served.”

Terms of reference

The Women and Equalities Committee is inviting written submissions by 19 December 2022 addressing any or all the following points:

  • What forms of violence against women and girls are motivated by so-called honour? Are these different forms understood by the Government, police and other agencies?
  • How prevalent is honour-based abuse? What do we know about the background or characteristics of victims and perpetrators?
  • What is known about abuse practised under the pretext of upholding cultural norms? Is there available data and/or research on the prevalence of these practices?
  • What are the challenges or barriers faced by victims of honour-based abuse in seeking support or protection?
  • How would you assess the police response to honour-based abuse? How could it be improved?
  • Is the current law in relation to honour-based abuse adequate to protect victims? If not, what should change?
  • What are the challenges for services supporting victims of honour-based abuse? How could those challenges be mitigated or overcome

We know that this inquiry raises distressing and highly sensitive content. If you believe that you, or someone you know, is in immediate danger, please contact the police on 999.

If you are in need of support, here are some organisations which could assist you:

  • Freedom Charity – UK-based charity formed to give support to victims of forced marriage and violence upon women thought to have brought dishonour on their family. Helpline: 0845 607 0133 or text the words 4freedom: to 88802
  • The Halo project – A national project run by and for the black and minoritised community aiming to eliminate forced marriage, honour based abuse and female genital mutilation.
  • The Asian Women’s Centre – They offer ‘support to women and children who have been affected by domestic abuse, forced marriages, honour based and faith-based abuse. The centre are part of a pan-London partnership and on their Projects page they give links to other community based organisations working in the same field.

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