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Understanding the types

Hidden harm is harm or abuse that is usually hidden from public view, or is not recognised or reported. Some forms of violence and abuse are referred to as ‘Harmful practices’ the most common are:

  • forced or early marriage
  • so called ‘honour’ based violence
  • female genital mutilation or cutting (FGM)

These forms of violence and abuse occur across all genders and are not unique to religion.  These forms of violence can involve adults or children and can occur across all sections of our community. As well as the physical, sexual and psychological health impacts, victims can be forced to leave education or employment. This situation may result in isolation, limited career opportunities, financial dependence and will always lead to suffering from the emotional impact that this brings.

Forced marriage

A forced marriage is where one or both people do not consent, or because of age, reduced capacity or learning disabilities cannot consent to the marriage. It is recognised in the UK as a form of domestic or child abuse and a serious abuse of human rights. All genders can be victims of forced marriage. 

Honour based violence

Honour based violence is a crime or incident, which has or may have been committed to protect or defend the honour of the family and/or community. Honour can be seen to be undermined by many things including:

  • Having a boyfriend or girlfriend
  • Sexual orientation
  • Gender identity
  • Rejecting a forced marriage
  • Pregnancy outside of marriage
  • Interfaith relationships
  • Seeking divorce
  • Inappropriate dress or make-up 

Honour based violence can exist in any culture. This crime is committed by men and women. It is also not unusual for younger relatives to be selected to undertake the abuse as a way to protect senior members of the family. Honour based violence is against the law and is always treated very seriously because there is potentially a high risk of serious harm for victims. Support is available to help you keep safe and you are strongly urged to seek help if you fear you may be at risk of this offence.

Female genital mutilation and cutting (FGMC)

Female genital mutilation and Cutting (FGMC) is a procedure where the genitals are deliberately cut, injured or changed, but there’s no medical reason for this to be done.

It is also known as female circumcision or cutting, such as sunna, gudniin, halalays, tahur, megrez and khitan, among others. 

FGM is usually carried out on young girls between infancy and the age of 15, most commonly before puberty starts.

It is illegal in the UK and is child abuse.