16 Days of Activism 2020 – Day 3

Religion, Abuse, HBA

What is Honour Based Abuse?…..

So-called Honour based abuse is a “a crime or incident which has or may have been committed to protect or defend the honour of the family and/or community”.

It is about beliefs and customs and expectations that people must behave in a certain way & by breaking those rules

or even just being suspected of breaking them may be seen as bringing shame or dishonour to their families or their community..

These crimes can include female genital mutilation (FGM), forced marriage, Religious Abuse, coercive control, attempted murder and murder.

Anyone can be a victim of honour-based abuse regardless of age, race or religion and it doesn’t just affect females, men and boys can also be victims.

HBA is a form of abuse that is thought to impact Black, Asian and minority ethnic women more than any other group. The prevalence of ‘honour’-based violence (HBV) is extensive in the UK and around the world, but the true scale of the problem is unknown. Unlike domestic abuse where it is typically one person abusing another, in cases of HBA and forced marriage the perpetrators can be one or many.

Despite the use of this label, we must all remember that there is no ‘honour’ in abuse.

Signs to look for
  • Extended absence from school or college
  • Truancy.
  • Low motivation.
  • Excessive parental restriction and control of movements, history of brothers/sisters leaving education early to marry.
  • Poor attendance in the workplace.
  • Poor performance.
  • Parental control of income and limited career choices
  • Evidence of self-harm
  • Evidence of family disputes/conflict, domestic violence/abuse or running away from home.

Forced marriage is not a problem specific to one country or culture. Since 2011, the Forced Marriage Unit (FMU) has handled cases relating to countries across Asia, the Middle East, Africa, Europe and North America.

In 2019, the FMU handled cases relating to 66 ‘focus countries’ 1 , excluding the UK. The seven ‘focus countries’ with the highest number of cases in 2019 were:

  • Pakistan – 559 cases (41%)
  • Bangladesh – 144 cases (11%)
  • India – 65 cases (5%)
  • Afghanistan – 54 cases (4%)
  • Somalia2 – 31 cases (2%)
  • Iraq – 23 cases (2%)
  • Romania – 22 cases (2%)

Child Marriages…..

Child marriages are often considered to be Forced marriages, because children are unable to make a fully informed choice whether or not to marry, and are often influenced by their families. In many cases only one partner is a child, usually the female and some are as young as 8 or 9 years old.

Causes of Child Abuse:

  • Poverty-poor families sell their children into marriage either to settle debts or to make some money and escape the cycle of poverty
  • Traditions-Child marriage can also be influenced by norms and beliefs. In some societies, marriage is nothing more than a phase of womanhood. Once menstruation starts, a girl is seen as a grown woman, so the logical next steps for her are marriage and motherhood. Younger girls may also be perceived as more amenable — more easily shaped into an obedient wife.
  • Protecting” the girl’s sexuality-In certain cultures, marrying a girl young presumes that the girl’s sexuality, therefore the girl’s family’s honour, will be “protected” by ensuring that the girl marries as a virgin
  • Inadequate laws-Many countries such as Pakistan have laws against child marriage. The laws are not enforced.
  • Trafficking- Poor families are tempted to sell their girls not just into marriage, but into prostitution, as the transaction enables large sums of money to change hands.
Abuse in death globally
  • In Nigeria specifically the Igbo Tribe female widows are meant to mourn their dead husbands for upwards of between 10 months – two years.
  • In some communities in the state, the widows would also not take their bath for upwards of three weeks, after which they would be accompanied at the dead of the night, to a river where they were shaved and then bathed.
  • During such journeys, people were not supposed to see them as they would be naked since they would swear by the river that they were not responsible for their husband’s death, before the shaving exercise.
  • This ritual is still practiced till today even in the western world.


Case 1

Uwavera Omozuwa had been studying ’quietly’ in the church near her home in Benin City when she was attacked and raped, her sister Judith told the BBC .

Ms Omozuwa died on Saturday in hospital, three days after her ordeal.

She was found by a guard at the Redeemed Christian Church of God with her shirt covered in blood and her skirt torn on Wednesday. She was taken to hospital and her family was informed.

Police have said they are treating the incident as a murder case and not one of rape, despite the sister’s claims.

Global Statistics
  • Sexual offences in Nigeria 2017
  • 2,279 reported cases of rape and indecent assault
  • 1,164 reported cases of “unnatural offences” (ie anal sex)
  • 0 convictions reported by police
  • 1 state (out of 36) reported no cases of indecent assault
  • Source: Nigeria Bureau of Statistics
Qandeel Baloch

  • The country’s first celebrity-by-social-media, Qandeel Baloch.
  • She was killed at the age of 26 by her brother in July 2016.
  • It was a so-called honour killing –
  • Qandeel brother felt that the videos and photographs she had been
  • posting online brought disrespect to their family.

Rania Alayed
  • Rania Alayed was a 25-year-old mother-of-three; she was murdered by her husband in June 2013, in Salford, Greater Manchester, England in an act of uxoricide.
  • Greater Manchester Police (GMP) Chief Detective Inspector Bill Reade described this as an honour killing.
  • Prosecutors stated she was murdered for trying to achieve independence from her husband and undergoing westernisation.[2] Rania’s remains have never been found.


Links to Religion

Is ‘honour’ based violence linked to religion?

So-called ‘honour’ based violence is not a religious based issue it has been recorded in communities practicing every major religion, including Jewish, Sikh, Christian, Hindu and Muslim communities. The underlying belief behind so-called ‘honour’ based violence is to maintain the control over women by the men within the family or community by denying women autonomy over their lives – including decisions such as who to marry, their sex lives or divorce and their human rights.

Religious Abuse

I was married to a man who was seen as the epitome of a perfect religious person. To the Muslim community he was seen as the ‘perfect’ husband who had taken on my child from a previous relationship and could do no wrong.
With his charm, passion for religion and forever helping the community, he was nothing but ‘perfect’
But behind closed doors he thrived on the physiological and emotional abuse and would often use the religion to justify his actions of abuse.
When he restricted me from wearing clothes that he found unsuitable, he justified it saying that was the ‘religious’ point of view
When he restricted me from working, he would use the ‘religion’ as a means to isolate me and make me financially dependent on him. I wasn’t able to identify that during the marriage he would misuse the scriptures to keep me under his control.
Many times I would question why I was being treated this way….. Was it God’s punishment for my past sins? Was this Gods test?
When I approached the male members of the community for support, I was told to endure with the Islamic virtue of Sabr (patience). My husband was never held to account for his behaviours….. I guess nobody could actually believe that he was an abuser. The façade he had created for so long had other members of the community under his spell…. He could do no wrong.
I mean, how could he? After all I was a divorced woman with a child when he ‘took us on’…. I was an outcast from the Muslim community and seen as a burden and made to feel shame as I had failed in one marriage already. How could he be anything but the ‘perfect Muslim man?’
When I spoke about divorce again I was made to feel that I would encounter Gods’ wrath again and I should bear patience…… bear patience with silence.
I have healed so much form the pain and trauma since I left him 10 years ago but I won’t lie, there are still some days when I relive those moments of abuse.
But for those who are still in an abusive relationship do not let your religious system excuse its existence and continuance because no religion allows abuse.
In fact, it was from the same religion I found healing, the same religion I found comfort and the same religion that helped set me free….. The thing is that no matter what the abuse says….. No religion promotes abuse of any kind.


Case 2

  • Michael Oluronbi, 60, abused six girls and a boy over a 20-year period, claiming the baths would ward off evil.
  • His wife Juliana Oluronbi, who arranged abortions after four girls became pregnant, was jailed for 11 years.
  • Both were found guilty by jurors at Birmingham Crown Court after a trial in January.
  • The trial heard Oluronbi had victims stand naked in a bowl of water to undergo what he called “spiritual bathing”.
  • He claimed it would cleanse their souls and protect them from the devil.
  • But Philip Bradley QC, prosecuting, told the trial Oluronbi’s true purpose “was to serve his sexual gratification”.
  • In some cases, he added, the offending “progressed to repeated rapes, on many occasions leading to unwanted pregnancies and terminations”.


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