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Honour and faith based violence and abuse – Wandsworth practitioners’ guide

Welcome to the Wandsworth Family Information Service honour and faith based violence and abuse section.

Here, you can find useful information on what services, activities and support is available in Wandsworth for families affected by honour and faith based violence and abuse.

What is honour or faith based abuse?

Honour and faith based abuse can take place in many forms. Victims can suffer from:

  • Physical violence (there are 5,000 recorded cases of honour based murders globally each year)
  • Deprivation of their personal freedoms and liberties, i.e. breach of their privacy, not being allowed to see their friends or use social media, or not being allowed out
  • Emotional abuse and neglect, including being told that they are ‘shaming’ the family or their religion or that they are a disgrace or failure
  • Being told what to do and having no choice in the matter, i.e. not being allowed to go to college or university, or being told that they must follow a certain path or profession
  • Forced or pressure based marriage, which can subsequently result in domestic violence and abuse
  • Female Genital Mutilation

Victims that suffer honour or faith based abuse and violence could also be vulnerable to radicalisation which can expose them to a number of other dangers, including sexual exploitation.

Families or in some cases a wider community can subject someone to honour or faith abuse to preserve family ‘honour’ based on a false idea that the victim is some how disgracing his or her family, traditions, culture or community.

There is no justified reason behind honour abuse or violence

How to recognise honour abuse

Most victims do not come forward for help because they fail to recognise themselves as a victim, are afraid of the consequences of doing so or feel that they are shaming their family or community. Many victims also feel that they will not be listened to or understood and therefore there is no benefit in asking for help.

Here are some signs which could indicate that someone is suffering from honour abuse:

  • They don’t socialise with others or seem isolated
  • They talk about or make passing comments about their frustrations of how strict their parents are
  • They’re worried about going on holiday because they think they may be asked to get married or may be left there
  • They are constantly showing signs of fear of their relatives
  • They talk about their aspirations and choices but feel they are unable to achieve them because their family have already planned out their future

This is not an exhaustive list and there are many more possible signs of honour abuse.

How to help a victim: Dos and Don’ts

Do:

  • Ensure that any conversation that you have with a person you feel is at risk of honour abuse or violence is in private
  • Listen to the concerns of the person
  • Maintain strict confidentiality
  • Follow your organisation’s referral process and safeguarding procedures
  • Continue to offer support and encouragement to the person
  • Monitor and check up on the person
  • Encourage the person to set up a new e-mail address and e-mail themselves a copy of their passport, all relevant contact information and addresses in the UK, and travel itineraries if they’re travelling abroad and at risk of a forced marriage
  • Provide the person with the Honour Network Helpline (Karma Nirvana) number: 08005 999 247, victims may feel more comfortable to discuss their concerns with someone who understands the issues that he or she is facing

Do not:

  • Ignore the issues or be afraid of cultural sensitivity, someone’s life may be at risk
  • Under any circumstance attempt to act as a mediator between the victim and his or her family or inform their parents. This may place the victim at risk of violence or worse
  • Disregard anything that the victim is saying. It may sound bizarre to you, but chances are that the victim is telling the truth
  • Assume that it would be good idea to speak to the victim in front of his or her friends, siblings or other relatives about your concerns for the victim. They may inform the victim’s family. Always speak to the victim in private
  • Allow the victim to go home if you feel that they are in immediate danger. Call 999

NEVER ignore your gut instinct, and remember the one chance rule:

There’s only one chance to get it right!

If you are worried about someone and need to make a referral to the council, contact:

Adult Social Services Access Team: 020 8871 7707
E-mail: accessteam@wandsworth.gov.uk

Children’s Specialist Services: 020 8871 6622
E-mail: cssduty@wandsworth.gov.uk

Community Safety Division: 020 8871 6437
E-mail: communitysafety@wandsworth.gov.uk

If you are concerned that someone is at risk of or vulnerable to radicalisation, contact the council’s Prevent officer: 020 8871 6094

If you want to learn more about honour based abuse and violence, contact Karma Nirvana on 08005 999 247 or visit www.karmanirvana.org.uk

In emergencies call 999

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