Victims of "honour-based" abuse seven times more likely to have multiple perpetrators than other victims of domestic abuse

11th December 2017

Charities call on communities to own the issue and call out abuse, and agencies to understand and respond better

At the end of the #16Days domestic abuse campaign, and in the context of a huge data release on domestic abuse by the ONS in November, two charities highlight the situation of women and men who face additional challenges to being heard and who are often 'invisible' in the debate.  

SafeLives, a national evidence-led domestic abuse charity, and Karma Nirvana, a British human rights charity that supports victims of honour-based abuse and forced marriage, have come together to put the spotlight on thousands of people experiencing this violence and our need to engage with 'hidden' victims of abuse.  

SafeLives’ new research, which drew on the expertise of Karma Nirvana and other specialists, shows victims of "honour-based" abuse are seven times more likely to have multiple perpetrators than others who experience domestic abuse. Agencies must therefore provide a 'whole family' response, to uncover the webs of abuse that allow multiple perpetrators in the family and wider community to inflict fear.

Victims of honour crimes often face additional barriers, such as the need for interpreters, having no access to public funds and lacking trusted networks to which they can turn.

Amala, a survivor said: “My husband started the physical abuse, and the other family members soon followed. His family began to give the children expensive gifts and my children began to turn against me... From day one, my mother-in-law, father-in-law, sisters and brothers in law, and then my husband and now children too. What was I going to do?”

Suzanne Jacob, Deputy CEO of SafeLives said: "We carry out a great deal of research examining additional barriers certain survivors face. Our evidence, and the expert input from specialist charities who helped us with this report, show that victims of HBV are more likely to be abused multiple times and by multiple perpetrators. As we’ve seen all too often, perpetrators can 'get away with it' if communities turn a blind eye to ongoing abuse. This isn’t exclusive to any specific community – as recent disclosures from Hollywood to Westminster show all too clearly. We have to work in partnership with communities to examine the causes of abuse and the environments in which it can flourish, so we can help the many people suffering in silence".  

Jasvinder Sanghera CBE, Founder and CEO of Karma Nirvana said: “Victims of honour-based abuse are particularly vulnerable as there are often multiple perpetrators from the immediate family. Professionals have become increasingly afraid of the consequences of offending minority groups and as a result victim protection is undermined.

When professionals are educated and trained on best practice, victim safety is greatly increased.  We welcome this research and hope it will encourage policy makers to improve the resources for agencies and help them to challenge these human rights abuses.”

Other Key Stats from SafeLives 'Your Choice' Report

  • Nearly a quarter of victims at risk of so called ‘honour’-based abuse are not eligible for tax credits, housing support or other public funded assistance
  • 15% of those cases seen by the Forced Marriage Unit are under sixteen
  • At least one ‘honour’-based killing happens every month in the UK (very likely to be underestimated)
  • 57% of HBV victims visited their GP in the last 12 months and yet only 6% of referrals to specialist services who can help come from health professionals
  • 43% of HBV victims are still in a relationship with the perpetrator, compared to 29% of domestic abuse victims (not at risk of HBV)


About SafeLives

We are a national charity dedicated to ending domestic abuse, for good. We combine insight from services, survivors and statistics to support people to become safe, well and rebuild their lives. Since 2005, SafeLives has worked with organisations across the country to transform the response to domestic abuse, with over 60,000 victims at highest risk of murder or serious harm now receiving co-ordinated support annually. 

No one should live in fear. It is not acceptable, not inevitable, and together – we can make it stop.  

Every year, two million people experience domestic abuse. For every person being abused, there is someone else responsible for that abuse: the perpetrator. And all too often, children are in the home and living with the impact. 

Domestic abuse affects us all; it thrives on being hidden behind closed doors. We must make it everybody’s business.  

About Jasvinder Sanghera and Karma Nirvana

Jasvinder Sanghera CBE is the author of The Sunday Times bestseller, ‘Shame’, ‘Daughters of Shame’ and ‘Shame Travels’. She featured in the award-winning documentary ‘Honour Diaries’ and her first TED talk has over 220,000 views on YouTube.

Jasvinder founded Karma Nirvana in 1993 to offer emotional and practical support to British victims. Today the charity operate a national helpline that receives approximately 800 phone calls per month. Karma Nirvana provide training to the Police, NHS and Social Services. Jasvinder acts as an expert witness in court, and survivors regularly speak out in schools across the country to raise awareness. In addition, Jasvinder and Karma Nirvana lobby government and after ten years of campaigning, forced marriage was criminalised in 2014. 

In 2014 Karma Nirvana launched an annual ‘Day of Memory’ held each year on July 14th to remember all victims of Honour Killings.