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Harmful practices


Harmful practices are a form of domestic abuse, which is usually a result of cultural beliefs. There are three main types of harmful practices, which are:

1. Honour-Based Abuse

2. Forced Marriage

3. Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)

Honour-Based Abuse

Honour is considered to be extremely important for some communities. If a member of a community brings dishonour to their family, this is considered to be shameful and can have severe consequences. Bringing dishonour onto a family can be punishable by emotional abuse, physical abuse, family disownment and even murder. The perpetrators of honour-based abuse can be immediate family, such as mothers, father, grandmothers etc, extended family and also the wider community.

Forced Marriage

Forced marriage is when a person does not give consent to the marriage but is forced or pressured into it. Different forms of abuse are used to force the induvial into the marriage, this can be emotional abuse, physical abuse, coercive control. Similarly to honour-based abuse, forced marriage has multiple perpetrators. Forced marriage is illegal in the UK and a Forced Marriage Protection Order can be used to legally protect the individual.


Female genital mutilation (FGM), also called 'cutting', involves the removal of some or all of the external parts of a girl's genitalia (World Health Organisation).


A person may be a victim if:

  • They are being controlled by the person they are with.
  • They are not allowed to speak.
  • They are being forced against their will.
  • There is a significant age gap between a married couple.
  • They look frightened/withdrawn
  • They have physical injuries (bruises, cuts, red marks etc).

(These signs are similar to domestic abuse, as harmful practices are a form of domestic abuse).


  • Always believe the victim.
  • Act quickly and confidently.
  • Call 999 ask for the police - the suspect may still be on premises.
  • Ask for an ambulance if the victim is injured.
  • YOU are responsible for the victim’s immediate safety.
  • Give the victim information about a specialist support service.


For further information:

Contact the City of London Public Protection Unit – - Give information anonymously

Vulnerable Victims Advocate- / 07944634946

Victim Supportline- 0808 1689 111

Karma Nirvana

IKWRO (Iranian and Kurdish Women’s Rights Organisation)- + 44 207 920 6460


Forced Marriage Unit

Rights of Women