‘Honour’-based violence and abuse is a term used to describe violence committed by families or communities against a member, usually a woman or girl, who they feel has not followed what they believe to be the correct code of behaviour and has caused dishonour to the family.
The term, ‘honour’-based violence, is used here with quotation marks around it, because there is no real honour in hurting or threatening family members. It can include forced and early marriage, dowry-related incidents and female genital mutilation.
However, in some communities dishonour is still seen as a legitimate reason for committing serious violence against a family member.
Female Genital Mutiliation (FGM)
Female Genital Mutilation is the name for ‘procedures involving the partial or total removal of the external female genitalia or any other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons’. It is a harmful cultural tradition and not part of any religion. It is practiced in 28 countries in Africa and some in the Middle East and Asia. FGM mostly takes place on girls aged 5-12, although it can be done at birth and up to the birth of a woman’s first child.
FGM is a painful, dangerous and unnecessary practice, which can have terrible long-term effects on girls and women physically and psychologically. In the short-term it can result in trauma, severe pain, bleeding, infection and death. Long-term consequences can include: severe birth complications, problems during sex and menstruation and disability.
FGM is often practiced by loving families in the belief that they are doing the right thing for their child and to maintain their family honour in the community, as part of their cultural tradition, practiced for generations. Female genital mutilation (FGM) is a cruel and brutal practice.
In the UK, it is illegal and there is a 14 year prison sentence for anyone performing, arranging or assisting in the practice.
FORWARD is a charity that campaigns for the elimination of FGM. They estimate that over 20,000 girls under the age of 15 are potentially at risk of FGM and over 66,000 women have been subjected to the procedure in England and Wales. The Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003 makes it an offence for UK nationals or permanent residents to carry out FGM abroad or to aid, arrange or assist the carrying out of FGM abroad, even in countries where the practice is legal.
If you, or a member of your family or a friend are at risk of FGM call the Helpline on 0800 4701 505. In an emergency call 999.