Tips for reporting on Harmful Traditional Practices
What are Harmful Traditional Practices?
‘Harmful traditional practices’ is an umbrella term to describe forms of violence against women that have existed in communities for so long that they are considered, or presented by perpetrators, as part of accepted traditional practice. They include:
Forced or early marriage
Marriage in which at least one person does not consent to the marriage and duress is involved.
So-called ‘honour’-based abuse
Any type of physical or psychological violence committed in the name of ‘honour’ predominantly against women for actual or perceived immoral behaviour, which is deemed to have shamed their family or community.
Female genital mutilation or cutting (FGM)
Refers to procedures that intentionally alter or injure female genital organs for non-medical reasons.
Tips for reporting
- Be clear that harmful traditional practices are rooted in misogyny. Don’t stigmatise any ethnic, cultural, or religious group. The discrimination that some communities face, in the form of islamophobia and racism, can act as a barrier to seeking support or speaking out about any form of violence.
- Use the term ‘honour’ with caution. These practices have nothing to do with honour, they are criminal acts.
- Maintain the distinction between forced marriage and arranged marriage. Be clear that in forced marriage, at least one party does not consent to the marriage and some element of duress is involved. Affected communities may protect and support perpetrators, and victim-survivors themselves may be unaware they are experiencing VAWG.
- If you are covering a story in which a victim-survivor would like to remain anonymous, ensure that you do not include any details which could lead to identification. Often, the connections which minority communities have with each other are underestimated. Disclosing a detail which may seem innocuous can lead to the identification of an individual within their community.
- Most so-called ‘honour-based’ violence is interfamilial. If an interviewee requires language support, always use a professional interpreter service. Never ask family members or children to interpret as any member of the family could be involved, including the mother of the victim.
- Seek advice from specialist organisations when reporting.