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So-Called 'Honour'-Based Violence is a term used to describe violence and abuse committed against a person who the family or the community feels has not followed what they believe is acceptable behaviour and has brought dishonour or shame to the family. Honour crimes are not determined by age, faith, gender or sexuality and Culture, Religion and Tradition are not an excuse.
Victims/survivors can experience violence or, in the most extreme form, be killed for a wide variety of behaviours, which can range from very trivial, such as talking to a male who is not a relative, to being sexually assaulted or raped. Some common 'behaviours' are:
- defying their parents
- talking to a male who is not related to the family
- seeking a divorce or seeking custody of the children after divorce
- refusing to marry a man chosen by the family (rejecting a forced marriage)
- sexual relationships or pregnancy before or outside of marriage (including kissing or intimacy in public)
- becoming 'western' (wearing make-up or clothes deemed inappropriate, having male friends or boyfriends from another faith etc)
- gossip (rumours can damage the 'honour' of a family)
- using drugs or drinking alcohol
- being sexually assaulted or raped
- being homosexual.
So-called 'honour' based violence is not a religious-based issue and it has been recorded in communities practising every major religion, including Jewish, Sikh, Christian, Hindu and Muslim communities. The underlying belief behind so-called 'honour' based violence is to maintain the control over women by the men within the family or community by denying women autonomy over their lives – including decisions such as who to marry, divorce, their sex lives and their human rights.
What support is available for incidents of so-called 'honour' based violence?