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By Baroness Smith of Llanfaes
Press releases

We need to raise awareness of Honour Based Abuse to protect our communities

The National Lottery

3 min read Partner content

Last Thursday (July 14th) was the Day of Memory for victims of Honour Based Abuse and National Lottery-funded charities have been calling for increased visibility, reporting and understanding of Honour-Based Abuse (HBA), to ensure survivors get the right support.

Southall Black Sisters are an organisation that has received National Lottery funding for their work including their support for victims of HBA. Their Head of Policy and Research, Dr Hannana Siddiqui, recently launched a book ‘No Safe Place’ written in collaboration with Bekhal Mahmod who was supported by the organisation after her sister Banaz Mahmod was murdered in a so-called ‘honour killing’.

The book, which came out on July 12th, recounts the extraordinary and horrific true story of Banaz’s murder at the hands of her father, uncle and male cousins, and the subsequent court case, at which Bekhal gave evidence against her family members. 

Southall Black Sisters is just one of a group of National Lottery-funded charities and organisations who were raising awareness of HBA last Thursday. Other groups include the Glasgow based charity Community Infosource, which sees men working with men to tackle issues, supporting them to change their attitudes and practices; and Savera UK, a charity which has supported hundreds of clients with their one-to-one services covering Merseyside and Cheshire, as well as reaching thousands more through their national helpline.

Award-winning journalist and author Samira Ahmed has also called for a more open discussion of the issue of HBA.

She said, “honour-based violence has always been there, but we did not always call it honour-based violence. The word ‘honour’ is controversial – some people feel it should not ever be used in the context of violence against women – but it struck me that the problem was never going away, that there were always accusations of racism if people tried to talk about it, and women were being silenced.”

She acknowledged HBA continues to be underreported and under acknowledged by the wider public, partly due to difficulties associated with labelling and discussing it.

Samira said, “I’ve been really struck when I’ve gone into some communities, and spent time talking to people, police, social workers, women’s groups, about how much pressure there is to not talk about honour-based violence, because somehow it tars a whole community and that it suits racists to talk about it.”

HBA can take many forms, including child marriage, virginity testing, enforced abortion, forced marriage, female genital mutilation, as well as physical, sexual, and economic abuse and coercive control. It is widely misunderstood and underreported, meaning that hundreds of victims are not being helped and perpetrators are escaping justice.

Yasmin Khan, founder of The National Lottery-funded Halo Project, believes the pandemic has led to a surge in survivors coming forward after 2 years of being unable to seek help.

Her charity has identified huge gaps in the reporting and understanding of HBA, which Khan says is even more prevalent than official figures suggest. 

Khan said, “We are seeing a tsunami of victims coming forward who have been extremely traumatised. This pandemic has exposed such inequalities and gaps in services, and a lot of staff are burnt out.”

The Halo Project’s long-term aim is to build a ‘zero-tolerance’ approach to honour-based abuse and ‘eradicate’ gender-based violence.

A film about Honour-Based Abuse featuring Samira Ahmed and Dr Hannana Siddiqui can be seen below:

Thanks to National Lottery players, over £30 million is raised for Good Causes every week and helping communities come together across the UK.

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Connecting Communities is an initiative aimed at empowering and strengthening community ties across the UK. Launched in partnership with The National Lottery, it aims to promote dialogue and support Parliamentarians working to nurture a more connected society.

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