Conservative MP Nusrat Ghani has brought forward a motion that certain crimes against women should no longer be described in relation to ‘honour’. Her rationale sounds reasonable – that describing these crimes differently has meant that police have been treating them as less serious; that they have been avoiding dealing with these crimes due to a misplaced sense of ‘respect’ for other cultures. However, her proposal could not be more damaging to women at risk of violence.
‘Honour’-based violence is a form of domestic violence. Domestic violence is a broad category. It refers to a husband abusing a wife, but it can also refer a child abusing a parent, amongst many other patterns of perpetration that may occur within a household. ‘Honour’-based violence is not simply the same thing as domestic violence, as Ghani states – rather it is one of the many subtypes within that category. Just as spousal abuse may require a different approach from child abuse, ‘honour’-based violence requires different policing approaches than other forms of domestic violence to provide the best protection for victims, and, in the case of an ‘honour’ killing, to ensure the prosecution of all offenders who may have played their role in a conspiracy to kill.