Honour Based Abuse (HBA) is an international term used by many cultures to describe a crime or incident committed in order to protect or defend against a perceived threat to family or community 'honour'.

Honour Based Abuse (HBA) is an international term used by many cultures for the justification of abuse and violence. It is a crime or incident committed in order to protect or defend the family or community 'honour' (izzat). (Source: Essex Safeguarding Children Board, August 2013)

Honour crimes are already covered by the law and can involve a range of criminal offences. Examples of HBA can include murder, un-explained death (suicide), fear of or actual forced marriage, controlling sexual activity, domestic abuse (including psychological, physical, sexual, financial or emotional abuse), child abuse, rape, kidnapping, false imprisonment, threats to kill, assault, harassment, forced abortion. This list is not exhaustive.

HBA is a collective term that includes female genital mutilation and forced marriage and is sometimes also referred to as Honour Based Violence. It is a term which relates to a victim who does not abide by the rules of an honour code.

Honour codes are usually set at the discretion of relatives and/or community members and, when rules of the code are thought to have been broken, victims are punished because the perpetrators believe they have shamed the family and/or community.

Infringements to an honour code may include a woman:

  • having a boyfriend
  • kissing in a public place
  • rejecting a forced marriage
  • getting pregnant outside of marriage
  • having an interfaith relationship
  • seeking divorce
  • dressing inappropriately or wearing make-up

Victims of HBA are not always women. Men can be victims too by:

  • having a relationship which is deemed to be inappropriate
  • being gay
  • having a disability
  • giving assistance to a victim

HBA is not only perpetrated by men. Sometimes female relatives of the victim will support, incite or assist the abuse and younger relatives may be selected to undertake the abuse as a way of protecting senior members of the family. HBA can be distinguished from other forms of abuse and violence because it is often committed with the knowledge and approval/collusion of family and/or community members.

Report a concern

  • If there is an immediate threat to life, or the immediate threat of being taken abroad, ring Essex Police on 999 number, or the Forced Marriage Unit.

Help and support

  • If you are affected by HBA or if you require help, support or advice, please ring Essex Police on 101.
  • If you are a child or young person and you want to talk to someone confidentially you can call Childline 0800 1111.


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