What are 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 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 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 individual 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 harmful practice with no health benefits, FGM can cause long-lasting physical, emotional and psychological trauma and in some cases death.
Think! – A victim could be a visitor to the hotel, a friend or a colleague you work with!
Signs to spot
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- They look frightened/withdrawn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).
Action to take
- Allocate a staff member to stay with the victim in a private area. Always believe the victim - Listen, reassure and try not to judge.
- 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.
- Allocate a point of contact to speak to Police/LAS on their arrival.
- YOU are responsible for the victim’s immediate safety.
- If there are signs of a disturbance or concerns of activities that have taken place in a hotel room - secure and do not allow anyone to enter. This is potentially a crime scene.
- Give the victim information about a specialist support service
- If victim refuses to remain, make a written record with as much detail as possible including what was said, what was heard, descriptions, injuries etc.
- If suspect is still present, try and encourage them to stay at location until police arrival – but do not put yourself at risk. Should they leave, make notes of any details known about the suspect including appearance, dress, distinguishing features, vehicle driven etc
- Secure CCTV
For further information:
Contact the City of London Public Protection Unit – [email protected]
Vulnerable Victims Advocate- [email protected] / 07944634946
Victim Supportline- 0808 1689 111
https://karmanirvana.org.uk/ - Provides a Communication toolkit with full material to help you ‘Shine the Spotlight’ on Honour Based Abuse across your professional and personal networks.
IKWRO (Iranian and Kurdish Women’s Rights Organisation)- + 44 207 920 6460
Ashiana- [email protected]
Forced Marriage Unit
Rights of Women
forwarduk.org.uk – Is the African women-led women’s rights organisation working to end violence against women and girls.
www.england.nhs.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/fgm-pocket-guide-v5-final.pdf - a handy pocket guide providing help and support on FGM.