Honour means that you are valuable to yourself and society. Some people can choose for themselves how to live in an honourable way. For other people, it is decided by their family or society. In this case, you represent your family. Your behaviour affects all your family members. 

A person can be considered to have hurt the honour of a family by, for example:

  • losing virginity;
  • having a relationship before marriage;
  • being raped;
  • running away;
  • refusing an arranged marriage;
  • unacceptable behaviour: not going home straight after school, being dressed in the wrong way; 
  • leaving the partner or family.

When the honour of a family is hurt or runs the risk of being hurt, families sometimes use their power or violence to save or restore the family honour. The family feels that this is necessary if they want to stay part of the society they live in. This is called honour-based violence.

Honour-based violence is forbidden by law

Kinds of honour-based violence

Honour-based violence can take many forms, for example:

  • control: being watched by family members and not being allowed to go out with friends, do sports…; 
  • physical punishment: being kicked, beaten;
  • psychological punishment: being insulted, threats, family acts as if you are dead or never existed; 
  • forced marriage;
  • forcing the person to commit suicide;
  • murder.

In many societies, men get more liberty and power than women. The roles of men and women (gender roles) are very different. This is why women are more often victims of honour-based violence.

Sometimes men also suffer from honour-based violence, for example: if they talk about their homosexuality or when they do not agree to an arranged marriage. 

The violence can be committed by more than one family member. The offenders can be men or women. Sometimes it can be a person’s partner who commits the violence.

Looking for help

If you are a victim of honour-based violence, look for help:

  • Talk to someone you can trust;
  • Contact the police or a specialised organisation and talk about the violence. The better you explain the situation, the better your safety can be guaranteed. 

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