Harmful Traditional Practices

reporting on harmful traditional practices

What are they?

‘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. Can be defined as a marriage in which at least one person does not consent to the marriage and duress is involved.

So-called ‘honour’-based violence. 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 these practices are rooted in misogyny and avoid stigmatising any ethnic, cultural, or religious group

Use the term honour with caution – these practices have very little to do with honour - these 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 violence against women.

The discrimination that faces some communities in the form islamophobia and racism can act as a barrier to seeking support or speaking out about any form of violence.

If you are covering a story where 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 under-estimated, therefore by disclosing a detail which may seem innocuous may lead to the identification of an individual by their communities

The majority of honour-based violence is inter-familial. If interviewing, never use 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.


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