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Honour Based Violence, Forced Marriage and FGM

Information, advice and support

Honour Based Violence

Everyone can sometimes feel that they are unable to live their lives the way they want to because of reactions from friends and family. However, if you are scared that your actions may lead to violence from your family, and the community you may be experiencing so-called ‘honour based’ violence.

So-called honour based violence is a crime or incident, which has or may have been committed to protect or defend the honour of the family and/or community. Honour can be seen to be undermined by many things; including: a woman having a boyfriend; rejecting a forced marriage; pregnancy outside of marriage; interfaith relationships; seeking divorce, inappropriate dress or make-up and even kissing in a public place.

So-called honour based violence can exist in any culture. Most victims are women but men can also be victims. It is important to understand that this is not a crime which is only committed by men, sometimes female relatives will support, incite or assist. It is also not unusual for younger relatives to be selected to undertake the abuse as a way to protect senior members of the family. So-called honour based violence is against the law and support is available to help you keep safe.

Forced Marriage

If you are feeling pressurised into marrying someone, or you feel that you have no say in the decision, you may be being forced into a marriage. Whether the marriage is taking place abroad or here in the UK, it is important to understand that you have the right to say no, and that support is available.

Both men and women, of different ages, communities and backgrounds can be victims of a forced marriage. It is important to remember that forced marriage is not a ‘cultural or religious’ issue, it can be experienced by people from different cultural groups, and is condemned by every major religion.

It is important not to confuse ‘forced’ marriage with ‘arranged’ marriage. An arranged marriage is when the families are involved in helping to choose the marriage partner, but it is the choice of both the bride and groom whether they want to get married or not. A forced marriage is when they have no choice or feel that they have no choice.

Female Genital Mutilation 

Are you worried that a child may be at risk of Female Genital Mutilation? Are you a child worried about FGM? Signs that FGM may be planned include plans for a long holiday with a special celebration about becoming a woman, and your family may talk of ‘pinching your bottom’.

Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is also known as female circumcision or female genital cutting. FGM has no health benefits, and it harms girls and women in many ways. It involves removing and damaging healthy and normal female genital tissue, and interferes with the natural functions of girls’ and women’s bodies.

FGM is defined by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as “all procedures involving partial or total removal of the external female genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons”.

Get medical help with the complications caused by FGM

FGM has no health benefits for girls and women and procedures can cause severe bleeding and problems urinating, and later cysts, infections, infertility as well as complications in childbirth.

Women and girls who are experiencing complications from FGM can get medical help either through the doctor’s surgery where they are registered or by contacting one of the clinics listed under Medical Help on this page.

If you are pregnant

If you are pregnant and have had FGM or been circumcised, it’s important that you register with a midwife as soon as you know you are pregnant. You can find a midwife through your local clinic.

Bristol midwives have experience of supporting all women and will understand the issues for FGM. Your midwife can refer you to any specialist services you may need including “opening” surgery.

Medical advice and treatment is confidential.

The Female Genital Mutilation Act (2003):

  • it is llegal to practice FGM in the UK;
  • it is illegal to take girls who are British nationals or permanent residents of the UK abroad for FGM whether or not it is lawful in that country;
  • it is illegal to aid, abet, counsel or procure the carrying out of FGM abroad;
  • Has a penalty of up to 14 years in prison and/or a fine.

Health and social care professionals and teachers are required to report ‘known’ cases of FGM in girls under 18 to the police.

Advice and Support

Call 999 if a crime is happening now, or if you or someone you know is in immediate danger.

If you think you are experiencing any type of abuse, it is important to remember that it is not your fault and that there is support available.

If you are unsure, go with your instincts, if it doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t. You may feel alone and that no-one can help you; but many people experience abuse and there are many services that can provide support.

You can speak to your teacher, GP, work colleague or any other trusted professional. Speaking to someone about what you are going through can help you to feel less alone and can support you in understanding your options.

A personal safety plan is a way of helping you to protect yourself. It helps you plan in advance for the possibility of future violence and abuse. It also helps you to think about how you can increase your safety either within the relationship, or if you decide to leave.

Read Womensaid Personal Safety Plan


Next Link

Offers crisis support, safe temporary supported housing and long-term support to women and children experiencing domestic abuse including Forced Marriage and Honour Based violence. You can contact 0117 925 0680 to speak in confidence to a forced marriage and honour based violence specialist.

The Sky Project

Based in Bristol, they provide training and support to a range of professionals, communities, schools, universities, professional bodies and any other relevant group on the issues of forced marriage and honour-based violence.

Karma Nirvana

Working to end Honour Based Abuse and forced marriage in the UK.

UK Helpline: 0800 5999 247

Forced Marriage Unit

The Foreign & Commonwealth Office provides information about forced marriage and can intervene to make you safe. If you or someone you know is being forced to marry in the UK or abroad, contact the Forced Marriage Unit on 0207 0080151.

Halo Project

Supporting victims of honour based violence, forced marriage and FGM. You can call them on 01642 683 045 or email

True Honour

Supporting victims of honour based violence, forced marriage and FGM. You can call them on 07480 621711 or email

NSPCC FGM helpline

If you need advice or information about female genital mutilation or are worried about a child at risk you can contact the NSPCC FGM helpline 24 hours a day / 7 days a week. It is free to call from a landline: 0800 028 3550.

NSPCC Text helpline: 85888 (this service is free and anonymous)


FORWARD, The Foundation for Women’s Health Research and Development provides support and campaigns to safeguard the sexual and reproductive health and rights of African girls and women.

Open Monday- Friday 9.30am-5.30pm for information, advice and one-to-one support.

Phone: 0208 960 4000, extension 1

Mobile: 07834 168 141


Bristol Community Rose Clinic at Eastville Medical Practice

Provides support for women experiencing any health problems as a result of FGM. The clinic offers ‘opening’ surgery under local anaesthetic (awake) or can arrange for the surgery at a local hospital under general anaesthetic (asleep).


Tel:  07813 016 911

First Response

If you suspect that a child may be at risk of Female Genital Mutilation, either in this country or abroad, or that it has been carried out then it is important that you report these concerns to First Response, 0117 903 6444.