Crimes in the Name of So-Called Honour


Crimes in the name of so-called honour are acts of Violence Against Women and Girls  perpetrated crimes that are committed “to protect perceived cultural and religious beliefs and/or honour. Such violence can occur when perpetrators perceive that a relative has shamed the family and/or community by breaking their honour code. It is a violation of human rights and may be a form of domestic and/or sexual violence. There is no, and cannot be, honour or justification for abusing the human rights of others.”

Forms of so-called honour based violence include

  • Murder
  • un-explained death (suicide),
  • Domestic imprisonment
  • Kidnapping and abduction of children
  • Forced marriages
  • Female Genital Mutilation
  • Acid attacks
  • Rape
  • Financial abuse

There may also be a number of precursors/ triggers for so-called honour based violence (taken from

  • Identification as having lost virginity prior to marriage
  • Causing gossip
  • Refusing an arranged marriage
  • Being in a non approved relationship
  • Seeking a divorce (especially when dowry present)
  • Coming “out”
  • Involving authorities in child custody issues, or leaving with a child
  • Running away from home
  • Perceived to be living a Westernised lifestyle
  • Reporting abuse or forced marriage to police
  • Being a victim of rape
  • Pregnancy outside marriage


Cases are prosecuted under specific offences, for example common assault, sexual assault, inflicting Grievous Bodily Harm, harassment, kidnap, rape, threats to kill, murder, Attempted murder;  Manslaughter;  Procuring an abortion;  Encouraging or assisting suicide;  Conspiracy to murder; Conspiracy to commit a variety of assaults.

See Forced Marriage Fact Sheet.


It is uncertain about how many ‘honour’ killings there are in the UK each year although it is widely quoted that there are around 12 a year.  In the UK killings are often disguised as an accident, or as suicide, and are not recorded as ‘honour’ killings.

 In 2004, the Metropolitan Police decided to re-open 114 murder cases from the previous decade, which they now think may be so-called ‘honour’ killings.[2]

Up to 17,000 women in Britain are subjected to so-called ‘honour’ related violence.