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Estimated 12 honour killings of British girls each year

Bedfordshire Police is today (14 July 2020) supporting the sixth annual day of remembrance for those killed in so-called “honour” crimes, and to raise awareness of the often hidden crimes of honour-based abuse and forced marriage.

Honour-based abuse is defined as a collection of practices used to control behaviour, within families or social groups, in order to protect perceived cultural and religious beliefs and/or honour, and is not determined by age, faith, gender or sexuality.

Violence can occur when perpetrators perceive that a relative has shamed the family and/or community by breaking their honour code.

Data from the Honour Based Violence Awareness Network (HBVAN) estimates there are 12 honour killings of British girls and around 8,000 to 10,000 forced marriages in the UK each year.

There have been no reported honour killings in Bedfordshire. However, Bedfordshire Police said that young girls and boys in the county are being subjected to honour-based abuse, and it is urging victims, or those concerned for the safety and welfare of others, to report this crime.

Victims are predominantly, but not exclusively, women, and this type of abuse is distinguished from other forms of violence, as it is often committed with some degree of approval and/or collusion from family and/or community members.

Men can also be victims, sometimes as a consequence of their involvement in what may be deemed to be an inappropriate relationship, if they are gay, or if they are believed to be supporting a victim.

Honour-based abuse cuts across all cultures, nationalities, faith groups and communities, traditionally where a culture is heavily male-dominated. Relatives may conspire, aid, abet or participate in honour-based abuse, for what might seem to outsiders as a trivial transgression.

Detective Inspector Lorraine Coombes said:

“There is no honour in abuse, and culture, religion and tradition are no excuse.

“The safeguarding of those subjected to this cruelty is a priority for Bedfordshire Police, and we are committed to tackling these practices in our county.

“Together with our partners, we are working constantly to raise awareness, educate, and build trust so victims come forward to report these horrendous crimes.

“There is support available and we are dedicated to keeping you safe and ending this abuse.

“You can speak to us in confidence. We will be able to assess your situation, advise you, and also refer you to support organisations.

“We will not tell your family that you have contacted us.”

Help and support is available

  • Are you afraid you may bring shame to or dishonour your family?
  • Have you been emotionally or physically abused?
  • Do you worry about being disowned?
  • Are you being pressured to get married against your will?

Your personal safety is important. If you feel that you are in danger, you should contact the police immediately.

To report a crime, call police on 101. Always call 999 in an emergency.

Forced Marriage Unit – Foreign & Commonwealth Office

Freedom Charity 

Domestic Abuse National Helpline (24 hour line) 0808 2000247

Karma Nirvana helpline 0800 599 247