This document outlines Bright World’s policy and procedure in relation to suspected cases of Honour based violence (HBV). This term is used to describe a collection of practices which are used to control behaviour within families or other social groups to protect perceived cultural and religious beliefs and/or honour. The document is aligned to government legislation and guidance

‘Honour based’ Violence (HBV)

So-called ‘honour-based’ violence (HBV) encompasses crimes which have been committed to protect or defend the honour of the family and/or the community, including Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), forced marriage, and practices such as breast ironing. All forms of so called HBV are abuse (regardless of the motivation) and should be handled and escalated as such. If in any doubt, staff should speak to the designated safeguarding lead. Professionals in all agencies, and individuals and groups in relevant communities, need to be alert to the possibility of a child being at risk of HBV, or already having suffered HBV (Keeping Children Safe in Education September 2018).

Honour Based Violence occurs in communities where the concepts of honour and shame are fundamentally bound up with the expected behaviour of families and individuals, particularly that of women. There have been a number of high-profile “honour killings”, the most extreme form of so-called “honour”-based violence, in the UK in recent years. In other circumstances, the victim can be subjected to long term low level physical abuse and bullying as ‘punishment’ for ‘bringing dishonour on the family’. The term describes a form of domestic violence motivated by the notion of “honour”.

Honour Based Violence occurs in communities where the concepts of honour and shame are fundamentally bound up with the expected behaviour of families and individuals, particularly that of women. There have been a number of high-profile “honour killings”, the most extreme form of so-called “honour”-based violence, in the UK in recent years. In other circumstances, the victim can be subjected to long term low level physical abuse and bullying as ‘punishment’ for ‘bringing dishonour on the family’. The term describes a form of domestic violence motivated by the notion of “honour”.

A recent report by the Centre for Social Cohesion on “honour”-based violence in the UK described common ways in which honour can be perceived to be damaged:

Perceptions of common ways in which honour can be damaged

Defying parental authority: In many cultures, elder members of the family are expected to control their children. Parents who publicly fail to do so may lose status in the community as a result.

Becoming ‘western’ (clothes, behaviour, attitude): People from honour-based cultures often transform ideas of honour into a pride in one’s origins and/or religion once they settle in ‘the West’. Families who allow their children to assimilate into wider society can be seen as betraying their origins, their community and their ancestors.

Women having sex/relationships before marriage: Many honour-based cultures put a high premium on a girl’s virginity and sexual fidelity. Families whose women are believed to have extramarital relationships (even of a non-sexual kind) can suffer a decline in honour and social standing.

Use of drugs or alcohol: Drinking alcohol and using drugs not endorsed by religion, culture or tradition can bring shame on families because their children are seen as abandoning or rejecting the values of their parents and their community.

Gossip: In many cases honour is damaged less by a person’s action than by knowledge of that action becoming public knowledge. Rumours and gossip—even if untrue—can damage the status of a family or an individual. In many cases, families are less concerned with immoral acts, than with how these will affect how they are seen by their relatives and by other members of their community.

So-called “honour”-based violence differs from domestic violence in that it is often perpetrated by more than one individual, from the victim’s own family or wider community. This form of abuse is most usually directed towards young women, although this is not always the case: men have also been victims. So-called “honour”-based violence is not associated with particular religions or religious practice: the crime type has been recorded across Christian, Jewish, Sikh, Hindu and Muslim communities.

This policy outlines three crime types which fall within the so-called HBV form of abuse:

1. Female Genital Mutilation
2. Breast ironing
3. Forced Marriage

1. Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)
This section outlines the legislative background to this form of child abuse, Bright World policy and procedure for reports of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) which is to be followed in support of government legislation.

Policy – Background Information

Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is a form of child abuse which involves procedures that include the partial or total removal of the external female genital organs for non-medical reasons. FGM of children and women is a criminal offence in the UK, however most FGM practising families do not see the practice as a form of abuse and often see that they are acting in the best interests of the girl. These reasons may include social control of women’s sexual and reproductive rights (to prevent women being promiscuous by removing the desire for sexual intercourse), which can portray the ritual as a joyful occasion with community values.

FGM (a practice believed to have started in 5th Century BC) is not required by any religion. Many Muslim communities do not practice FGM and some Christian communities do. FGM is a national and international problem. The practice has roots in Africa, the Middle East and Asia, and has been identified in parts of Europe, North America and Australia.

FGM is extremely painful (for example severe pain, organ damage and shock), and has serious health consequences both at the time when the mutilation is carried out and in later life (for example menstrual problems, kidney damage and emotional or mental health problems).

FGM can be carried out at any age (though tends to be carried on 5-8 year old girls) which may require safeguarding measures to be in place over the course of the girl’s childhood, which is a significantly different framework and timescale to other forms of abuse.

HM Government ‘Multi Agency statutory guidance on female genital mutilation’ (April 2016) report estimates that 103,000 women aged 15-49 and approximately 24,000 women aged 50 and over who have migrated to England and Wales are living with the consequences of FGM. In addition, approximately 10,000 girls aged under 15 who have migrated to England and Wales are likely to have undergone FGM. The report confirmed that no Local Authority area in England and Wales is likely to be free from FGM entirely, with urban and rural areas.

Legislation

In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, FGM is illegal under the Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003, and in Scotland it is illegal under the Prohibition of Female Genital Mutilation (Scotland) Act 2005. The Serious Crime Act 2015 strengthened the legislative framework around tackling FGM which includes an offence of failing to protect a girl from FGM, lifelong anonymity for victims of FGM and Protection Orders which can be used to protect girls at risk.

Bright World Policy

Bright World Guardianships has a policy that staff should be aware of the offence specific to parents or those who have assumed responsibility for caring for the girl “in the manner of a parent” i.e. guardianship company.

The offence of failing to protect a girl from FGM (Section 3A of the FGM Act 2003). This offence is committed against a girl under the age of 16, which means that each person who is responsible for the girl at the time of FGM occurred will be liable under this new offence. The maximum penalty for the new offence is seven years’ imprisonment or a fine or both.

To be “responsible” for a girl, the person will either have parental responsibility for the girl (such as mothers, fathers married to the mothers at the time of birth and guardians) and have frequent contact with her, or where the person is aged 18 or over they will have assumed responsibility for caring for the girl “in the manner of a parent”, for example family members to whom parents might send their child during the summer holidays.

The requirement for “frequent contact” is intended to ensure that a person who in law has parental responsibility for a girl, but who in practice has little or no contact with her, would not be liable. Similarly, the requirement that the person should be caring for the girl “in the manner of a parent” is intended to ensure that a person who is looking after a girl for a very short period – such as a baby sitter – would not be liable.

It would be a defence for a defendant to show that at the relevant time, they did not think that there was a significant risk of FGM being committed, and could not reasonably have been expected to be aware that there was any such risk; or they took such steps as he or she could reasonably have been expected to take to protect the girl from being the victim of FGM. The onus would then be on the prosecution to prove the contrary.

Children at risk of FGM – increased, significant and immediate risk

Bright World staff should be aware of the factors which can make a child at increased risk of FGM:
• Child’s mother has undergone FGM
• Other female family members have had FGM
• Father comes from a community known to practice FGM
• Parents say that they or a relative will be taking the girl abroad for a prolonged period – this may not only be to a country with high prevalence, but this would more likely lead to a concern
• Girl has spoken about a long holiday to her country of origin/another country where the practice is prevalent
• Girls presents symptoms that could be related to FGM
• Any other safeguarding alert already associated with the family

Bright World staff should be aware of factors which could indicate that a child is at significant or immediate risk:
• Girl has confided in another that she is to have a ‘special procedure’ or to attend a ‘special occasion’.
• Girl has talked about going away ‘to become a woman’ or ‘to become like my mum and sister’

An awareness of these risks will help staff members to remain vigilant to the possible indicators of this form of child abuse. This is particularly important where the risk factors occur in conjunction with signs or symptoms of FGM which can include a girl or woman who may:

• Have difficulty walking, sitting or standing
• Spend longer than normal in the bathroom or toilet
• Have unusual behaviour after an absence from school or college
• Be particularly reluctant to undergo normal medical examinations
• Ask for help, but may not be explicit about the problem due to embarrassment or fear

Working with partners to protect children

Bright World Guardianships recognises the opportunity that the company has to support partners including schools and medical professionals in helping to protect and support children and young people at risk of, or who have undergone FGM. Disclosures or suspected cases of FGM can be reported to Bright World staff in relation to our own students, and also in relation to other children and young people who our students may be in contact with.

As FGM is a form of child abuse, Bright World Guardianships is aware of the obligation to report cases of FGM in line with the company’s Safeguarding and Child Protection Policy. The Director of Safeguarding and Operations will make a report to the police non-emergency number 101 in cases where:

- a girl under 18 either discloses that she has had FGM,
- a staff member suspects a child is at serious or imminent risk of FGM or
- a staff member suspects a child is displaying signs or symptoms of FGM

This is because a crime has been committed and a child has suffered physical (and potentially other) abuse. Following the referral, the multi-agency safeguarding response would usually include a referral to a specialist service to confirm the girl has had FGM.

NSPCC Helpline
Bright World staff should be aware of the NSPCC FGM helpline, 0800 028 3550. This helpline can support both professionals, company members or family members concerned that a child is at risk of, or has had, FGM.

Bright World Procedure for dealing with reports of suspected FGM
1. Bright World staff member receives the report of suspected FGM from a student, member of staff at a school, parent or other source by face to face disclosure, email or telephone call.
2. Bright World Staff member adheres to the Child Protection Policy including contemporaneously recording the disclosure in the most appropriate format (using the Tell Explain Describe model if the information is being given by a student).
3. The record of the disclosure is reported verbally as soon as practicable to the Designated Safeguarding Lead (DSL), Lana Foster at Head Office on 01273 835745.
4. The staff member must submit a written record of the disclosure on an IBOS Student Record – Incident Record (Head Office staff) or an email to Jenny Rumble (jen@brightworld.co.uk) or Lana Foster (lana@brightworld.co.uk).
5. The DSL will hold an emergency strategy meeting to discuss the incident, assess the alleged threat and risk to the child, implement an action plan and continue to review the situation until a resolution has been achieved.
6. The meeting will be recorded with timed and dated entries within a Student Record – Incident Record to record all actions and updates.
7. The incident will be referred to a statutory agency for further review in support of the FGM Act 2003.

Resources
Home Office – Statement opposing female genital mutilation – Statement opposing female genital mutilation
Mandatory reporting of remale genital mutilation: procedural information – Mandatory reporting of female genital mutilation: procedural information
FGM protection orders: factsheet – FGM protection orders: factsheet
FGM – Abuse unchecked – Female genital mutilation: abuse unchecked: the government response to the ninth report from the Home Affairs Select Committee session 2016-17 HC 390 (PDF)

2. Breast Ironing
Breast Ironing, also known as “Breast Flattening”, is the process whereby young pubescent girls’ breasts are ironed, massaged and/or pounded down through the use of hard or heated objects (for example large stones, a hammer or spatula that have been heated over scorching coal) in order for the breasts to disappear or delay the development of the breasts entirely. Those who derive from richer families may opt to use an elastic belt to press the breasts so as to prevent them from growing. There is a belief that by carrying out this act, young girls will be protected from harassment, rape, abduction and early forced marriage and therefore be kept in education.

The mutilation is a traditional practice from Cameroon designed to make teenage girls look less “womanly” and to deter unwanted male attention, pregnancy and rape. The practice is commonly performed by family members, 58% of the time by the mother. In many cases the abuser thinks they are doing something good for their daughter, by delaying the effects of puberty so that she can continue her education, rather than getting married.

Much like Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), Breast Ironing is a harmful cultural practice and is child abuse. Professionals working with children and young people must be able to identify the signs and symptoms of girls who are at risk of or have undergone breast ironing. Similarly to Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), breast ironing is classified as physical abuse therefore staff must follow the Bright World Guardianships Safeguarding Policy and Child Protection Policy.

Breast ironing is practiced in a number of African nations including Cameroon, Benin, Ivory Coast, Chad, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Togo, Zimbabwe and Guinea-Conakry and there is concern that African immigrants have brought breast ironing practice with them to the UK.

Children at risk of Breast Ironing
The girl generally believes that the practice is being carried out for her own good and she will often remain silent. Young pubescent girls usually aged between 9 – 15 years old and from practising communities are most at risk of breast ironing.

Health Consequences of Breast Ironing
Due to the instruments which are used during the process of breast ironing, for example, spoon/broom, stones, pestle, breast band, leaves etc. combined with insufficient aftercare, young girls are exposed to significant health risks. Breast ironing is painful and violates a young girl’s physical integrity. It exposes girls to numerous health problems such as cancer, abscesses, itching, and discharge of milk, infection, dissymmetry of the breasts, cysts, breast infections, severe fever, tissue damage and even the complete disappearance of one or both breasts.

Possible indicators of Breast Ironing
Breast ironing is a well-kept secret between the young girl and her mother. Often the father remains completely unaware. Some indicators that a girl has undergone breast ironing are as follows:

• Unusual behaviour after an absence from school or college including depression, anxiety, aggression, withdrawn etc.;
• Reluctance in undergoing normal medical examinations;
• Some girls may ask for help, but may not be explicit about the problem due to embarrassment or fear;
• Fear of changing for physical activities due to scars showing or bandages being visible.

Bright World Procedure for dealing with concerns for a child or suspected reports of Breast Ironing
Breast Ironing is a form of physical abuse and if staff are concerned that a child may be at risk of or suffering significant harm they must refer to the Bright World Guardianships Safeguarding Policy and Child Protection Policy for reporting concerns or suspicions that a child may be at risk of or has suffered this form of child abuse.

3. Forced Marriage
A forced marriage is where one or both people do not (or in cases of people with learning disabilities, cannot) consent to the marriage and pressure or abuse is used. It is an appalling and indefensible practice and is recognised in the UK as a form of violence against women and men, domestic/child abuse and a serious abuse of human rights.

The pressure put on people to marry against their will can be physical (including threats, actual physical violence and sexual violence) or emotional and psychological (for example, when someone is made to feel like they’re bringing shame on their family). Financial abuse (taking your wages or not giving you any money) can also be a factor (HM Government July 2016)

The UK Government regards forced marriage as a serious abuse of human rights and a form of domestic abuse. Where this affects children and young people, this is child abuse and a criminal offence. Bright World Guardianships will treat reports of forced marriage as a child protection issue. Bright World will share information promptly when a child or young person is at risk of forced marriage, and this will include providing information to the Forced Marriage Unit.

This form of abuse can happen to both women and men, although many of the reported cases involve young women and girls aged between 16 and 25. There is no “typical” victim of forced marriage. Some may be over or under 18 years of age, some may have a disability, some may have young children and some may also be spouses from overseas.

There is a clear distinction between a forced marriage and an arranged marriage. In arranged marriages, the families of both spouses take a leading role in arranging the marriage, but the choice of whether or not to accept the arrangement still remains with the prospective spouses. However, in forced marriage, one or both spouses do not consent to the marriage but are coerced into it. Duress can include physical, psychological, financial, sexual and emotional pressure. In the cases of some vulnerable adults who lack the capacity to consent, coercion is not required for a marriage to be forced.

The Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 makes it a criminal offence to* _force_* someone to marry.

This includes:
- Taking someone overseas to force them to marry (whether or not the forced marriage takes place)
- Marrying someone who lacks the mental capacity to consent to the marriage (whether they’re pressured to or not)
- Breaching a Forced Marriage Protection Order is also a criminal offence
- The civil remedy of obtaining a Forced Marriage Protection Order through the family courts will continue to exist alongside the new criminal offence, so victims can choose how they wish to be assisted. A FMPO offers protection to children and adults at risk of being forced into marriage and to those who have already been forced into marriage. The terms of the orders issued can be tailored to meet the specific needs of the victim.

To address the increasing scale and extent of forced marriage, the UK Government established the Forced Marriage Unit (FMU) in 2005. The FMU is a joint Home Office and Foreign and Commonwealth Office Unit – the role of the FMU is to provide direct assistance, through information and support, to victims, as well as undertaking a full and comprehensive programme of outreach activity, raising awareness and providing advice to professionals and communities.

Possible Indicators or Warning Signs of Forced Marriage
- Absence and persistent absence from schools, or other siblings within the family reported as missing
- Request for extended leave of absence and failure to return from visits to country of origin
- Fear about forthcoming school holidays
- Surveillance by siblings or cousins at school
- Decline in behaviour, engagement, performance or punctuality
- Poor exam results
- Being withdrawn from school by those with parental responsibility
- Removal from a day centre of a person with a physical or learning disability
- Not allowed to attend extra-curricular activities
- Sudden announcement of engagement to a stranger
- Prevented from going on to further/higher education
- Self harm/attempted suicide or threats to kill
- Eating disorders
- Depression/ Isolation
- Substance misuse
- Unwanted pregnancy
- Female Genital Mutilation
- Acid Attacks
- The victim reported for offences e.g. shoplifting or substance misuse
- Reports of other offences such as rape of kidnap

Safeguarding children and young people from harm by sharing information or to prevent a crime being committed

Although forced marriage is now a specific criminal offence, there are still a number of other offences that may nevertheless be committed. Perpetrators – usually parents or family members – may also be prosecuted for offences including fear or provocation of violence, common assault, actual bodily harm, grievous bodily harm, harassment, common assault, kidnap, abduction, theft (of passport), threats to kill, false imprisonment and murder. Sexual intercourse without consent is rape, regardless of whether this occurs within a marriage or not.

Where it may arise that a local authority children’s social care has a case referred to it that constitutes, or may constitute, a criminal offence against a child; social workers or their managers should always discuss the case with the police at the earliest opportunity. Where other agencies encounter concerns about a child’s welfare that constitutes, or may constitute, a criminal offence against a child they must consider sharing that information with Local Authority children’s social care or the police in order to protect the child or other children from the risk of significant harm. If a decision is reached not to share information, the reasons must be recorded.

Bright World Procedure for dealing with concerns for a child or suspected reports of Forced Marriage

Forced marriage is a form of child abuse and if staff are concerned that a child may be at risk of or suffering significant harm they must refer to the Bright World Guardianships Safeguarding Policy and Child Protection Policy for reporting concerns or suspicions that a child may be at risk of or has suffered this form of child abuse.

Policy Owner: Lana Foster
Date Introduced: 14 October 2016
Next Review Date: December 2018

Feedback

Was this helpful?

Yes No
You indicated this topic was not helpful to you ...
Could you please leave a comment telling us why? Thank you!
Thanks for your feedback.

Post your comment on this topic.

Post Comment