Honour-based abuse

Honour-based abuse is a term that is used to describe the action taken when a family or a community believes that the victim has breached the family's honour or the honour code, or it is believed that the victim may have brought shame or dishonour to the family or community.

There is no specific offence of honour-based abuse, however there are a range of criminal offences committed within the honour-based abuse category.

Offences can include physical assault, abduction, rape and murder.

Honour-based abuse cuts across all cultures, nationalities, faith groups and communities. It can affect both males and females.

Honour-based abuse transcends national and international borders.

Forced marriage

Everyone has the right to choose who they marry and when they get married.  

What is a forced marriage?

A forced marriage is a marriage in which one or both spouses do not consent to the marriage and /or they are coerced or pressured into marrying.

This can be pressure/coercion from family or community members.

Forced marriage is not the same as 'arranged marriage', which is a cultural practice, is not unlawful and involves the consent of both parties.

In June 2014, it became a criminal offence to force someone to marry. This includes taking someone overseas to marry.

The full definition of what a forced marriage is can be found here.

Some of the signs which might indicate that someone is facing or is already a victim of forced marriage include:

  • Domestic abuse or rape
  • Depression, or becoming worried or withdrawn
  • Poor performance at work, school or college or often being absent
  • No control over their own money
  • A surprise engagement to an apparent stranger
  • They may not come back from a visit to another country
  • Early or unwanted pregnancy

If you need help in relation to a forced marriage call 101 or contact Karma Nirvana.   In an emergency, always call 999. 

Forced Marriage Protection Orders

If you have concerns about someone you know being forced into a marriage or you are worried about being forced into a marriage or you are already in a forced marriage, you can apply for a forced marriage protection order. These orders are granted by a designated County Court or a High Court.

Female gentital mutilation (FGM)

Female genital mutilation involves the partial or total removal of female external genitalia, or other injury to female genital organs, for non-medical reasons.

This practice is illegal and very dangerous.

The Government has issued a statement opposing female genital mutilation (FGM) and which can be taken abroad to explain the criminal status of FGM in the UK. The statement outlines what FGM is, the legislation and penalties involved, and the help and support available. It is also available in: Welsh, Turkish, Urdu, Farsi, French, Somali, Swahili, Arabic, Amharic, Tigrinya.

If you know someone is in immediate danger, dial 999.

You should also contact the Foreign and Commonwealth Office if the person at risk has already been taken abroad:

  • telephone: 020 7008 1500
  • from overseas: +44 (0)20 7008 1500
  • find out about call charges

The NSPCC also provides further information and advice on FGM. You can email them or call their helpline: 0800 028 3550.

Hiblio TV - 'FGM Awareness' with Njenni Enterprise

Report honour based abuse

Devon & Cornwall Police have officers specifically trained in providing support and assistance to individuals who are experiencing honour-based abuse and/or concerned about being forced into marriage. We will provide support and advice to you and work with you to ensure a safety plan is in place for you and other family members who are at risk.

We can also signpost you to our partner agencies to provide additional and ongoing support.

Family or religious group

If you or someone you know is at risk from emotional or physical harm from a family member or a religious group please contact us for advice and assistance or call 999 if in immediate danger.

Contact us and/or non-policing partners

For general advice and assistance: 101- Please leave a safe number for us to contact you.

In an emergency: If you believe your life or someone else is in immediate danger call 999.

If you do not want to speak with the police, but want support and advice you can contact:

Karma Nirvana on 0800 5999 247.

The Forced Marriage Unit on 0207008 0151

Njenni Enterprise on 0780 777 4585

The Lily Project (CRASAC) on 01872 262100


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Devon & Cornwall Police
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