Forced marriage and honour-based violence

A range of speakers shared their knowledge and understanding of forced marriage and honour-based violence (honour-based abuse) at the ‘Learning Together’ Event in May 2017.

The day began by watching a video that describes the murder of Shafilea Ahmed by her parents

Alexis Wright from Njenni Enterprise: Ending Violence against Women and Girls helped to process emotional responses to Shafilea’s story and to consider these from perspectives as teenagers. Alexis emphasised that forced marriage “must be placed solely within the domestic abuse/sexual violence debate” rather than as an issue of diversity – stressing that there is no honour in it, hence the term “so-called honour-based abuse” is used. Alexis explained how the general lack of information regarding perpetrators of domestic abuse is even more so for forced marriage and so-called honour-based abuse. She focused her presentation on the perpetrators of this form of familial violence. 

Neil Day from the Forced Marriage Unit then spoke about the work of this organisation and his work in tackling forced marriage involving adults with learning disability. 

Neil shared a wealth of useful information including:

Andree Ashmore from Plymouth City Council directed participants to the local Multi-Agency Adult Safeguarding procedures regarding forced marriage and honour-based violence, signposting to their information.

The link directs readers to further information including the government’s national Multi-Agency Practice Guidelines on Handling cases of Forced Marriage, available as a PDF and Multi-Agency Practice Guidelines on Forced Marriage and Learning Disabilities.

After lunch, the intensely illustrative Ted Talk by Jasvinder Sanghera was shown, Founder of Karma Nirvana, who described her and her sisters’ experiences.

Your tutors, study groups, other professionals and supervisors are available to talk to about these complex issues. Remember, be a learner and engage in the debate.

Jasvinder Sanghera - TEDx Talk

Jasvinder Sanghera has been fighting forced marriages and honour based abuse, both in her native Britain and internationally. The charity Karma Nirvana she founded in 1993 has helped establish several refuge centres for South Asian men and women fleeing forced marriages. Her commitment stems from personal experience, after running away from home fourteen years old, faced with the prospect of a forced marriage.

To help process the information and learning from it, time was spent in small groups discussing both Jasvinder’s sister’s story and Shafilea’s, reflecting on these questions:

1.   What signs were there that both young women were being pressurised into a forced marriage?

2.   At what point could agencies have intervened?

3.   What should professionals avoid doing?

4.   What could have been done to protect Shafilea?

The final speaker, Julie Paget from Plymouth and Devon Race Equality Council described a local safeguarding situation which helped o revisit survivor’s perspectives in the light of learning from the day.

The Rights of Women organisation also provide a wealth of information on their website regarding forced marriage and the law:

The day concluded with a group discussion focussed on any specific changes in attitudes and our reflections on these:

  • Did you have any preconceptions about forced marriage and honour-based violence? What were they?
  • Have your attitudes towards forced marriage and honour-based violence changed? How? 

We welcome ongoing analysis and critique of knowledge presented on the FREDA website so please send any feedback along with positive suggestions to support this learning to freda@plymouth.ac.uk

Learning Together Event feedback

Participants were asked for feedback on the event, starting with an appreciative inquiry question -  'What worked?'.

Responses included:

  • Very informative and personable first speaker; excellent information regarding challenging cultural/religious justifications for forced marriage.
  • Breadth of different perspectives, national to local: interactive.
  • Examples and TED Talks really brought issues home: good to know the law around this; good interaction with participants; excellent speakers.
Read the full feedback

Average scores before and after the ‘Learning Together’ event, May 2017

Q1. Awareness question: On a scale from 1-10 how would you rate your awareness of forced marriage and honour-based violence?

Q2. Confidence question: On a scale from 1-10 how confident are you that you could recognise the signs of forced marriage and honour-based violence?

Q3. Skills question: How confident are you in your ability to intervene in a forced marriage or honour-based violence situation?

What does belonging to FREDA mean to me?

“Since joining FREDA, I am more aware of human rights and I now know where to go for help. Promoting social justice is everyone's responsibility and the group have given me the tools and support I need to help me do my part.”

Rebecca Shearing, Social Work student