Forced marriage and so called ‘honour’ based violence

Forced marriage and so called ‘honour’ based violence

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In forced marriage, one or both spouses do not consent to the marriage and some element of duress is involved. Duress includes both physical and emotional pressure and abuse.

So called ‘honour’ based violence (HBV) is a collection of practices used to control behaviour within families in order to protect perceived cultural and religious beliefs and/or honour. Violence can occur when perpetrators perceive that a relative has shamed the family and/or community by breaking their honour code.

Forced marriage can be a form of HBV, but HBV can include other types of abuse such as: 

  • domestic violence (physical, sexual, emotional or financial abuse)
  • sexual harassment and sexual violence (rape and sexual assault or threat of rape and sexual assault)
  • threats to kill
  • social ostracism or rejection and emotional pressure
  • denial of access to children
  • pressure to go or move abroad
  • house arrest and excessive restrictions of freedom
  • denial of access to the telephone, internet, or passport/key documentation
  • denial of access to further or higher education without approval from family
  • not being allowed to talk or interact freely with peers, or being allowed to enter a relationship 
  • not being allowed to have sex before marriage or marry outside of a specified religion or cultural group
  • isolation from friends and own family

A clear distinction must be made between a forced marriage and an arranged marriage. The tradition of arranged marriages has operated successfully within many communities and many countries for a very long time. In arranged marriages, the families of both spouses take a leading role in arranging the marriage but the choice of whether or not to accept the arrangement remains with the child/ young person.

If you or a friend, or family member are facing forced marriage or HBV there is help available:

Domestic and Sexual Violence Service - Refuge
One to one confidential, non-judgemental support and advocacy to all people living or working in Barking and Dagenham experiencing domestic abuse. This includes both forced marriage and so called 'honour' based violence.

Refuge website
Call: 0300 456 0174

Offers help and advice to keep children safe from FGM
NSPCC FGM website
Call: 0808 800 500 

Excel Women’s Centre
A community hub with an open door policy. Women and children are welcome to walk straight into the Centre to relax, for advice or for the various activities on offer.

Excel Women’s Centre website
Call: 020 8594 3730


Karma Nirvana 
An award-winning National charity supporting victims of honour-based abuse and forced marriage. Karma Nirvana believe that honour crimes are not determined by age, faith, gender or sexuality, and will support and work with all victims.
National Hotline: 0800 5999247
Facebook: Saheli Ltd
Twitter: @SaheliLtd
Forward UK
(Foundation for Women’s Health Research and Development)

The leading African women-led organisation working to end violence against women and girls.
Call: 020 8960 4000, extension 1
Call (mobile): 07834 168 141

Forced Marriage Unit (Police)
The FMU also provides advice and information to individuals who have already been forced to marry. All caseworkers in the FMU have wide experience of the cultural, social and emotional issues surrounding forced marriage.

Call: 020 7008 0135/0230/8706

For out of hours emergencies telephone 020 7008 1500 and ask to speak to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Response Centre.