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Honour-based abuse

Honour-based abuse describes a combination of practices used principally to control and punish the behaviour of a member of a family or social group, predominantly but not solely women and girls, in order to protect perceived cultural and religious beliefs. Perpetrators will feel that they need to restore their loss of face and standing within their community. There is often an element of approval and social acceptance from other family members and the community.

The Crown Prosecution Service definition:

 ‘an incident or crime involving violence, threats of violence, intimidation, coercion or abuse (including psychological, physical, sexual, financial or emotional abuse), which has or may have been committed to protect or defend the honour of an individual, family and or community for alleged or perceived breaches of the family and / or community’s code of behaviour’.

Many different societies believe in the honour code. It is difficult to estimate how many crimes take place yearly in the UK. Worldwide it is estimated that there are 5000 honour killings a year. In the UK, it is believed that figure is approximately 10 to 15 murders a year. In some cultures, ‘forced suicide’ is used as a substitute for an honour killing. 

SCSP fact sheets:

SCSP city-wide policy and protocol:

Related pages on this website:

National guidance:


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