Honour means that you are valuable to yourself and society. Some people can choose for themselves how to live in an honourable way. For other people, it is decided by their family or society. In this case, you represent your family and your behaviour affects all your family members.
A person can be considered to have hurt the honour of a family by, for example:
- Losing virginity.
- Having a relationship before marriage.
- Being raped.
- Running away.
- Refusing an arranged marriage.
- Displaying behaviour that is found to be unacceptable, such as not going home immediately after school or wearing the wrong type of clothing.
- Leaving their partner or family.
If the honour of a family is damaged or could be damaged, families sometimes use force or violence to save or recover the honour. The family feels this is necessary to be able to continue being a part of the community in which it lives. This is called honour-based violence.
Honour-based violence is forbidden by law.
Honour-based violence can take many forms, for example:
- Control: being watched by family members and not being allowed to go out with friends or do sports.
- Physical punishment: being kicked or beaten.
- Psychological punishment: being insulted, threats, the family acts as if you are dead or never existed.
- Forced marriage.
- Forcing a person to commit suicide.
In many societies, men have more freedom and power than women. The roles of men and women (gender roles) are very different. This is why women are more often victims of honour-based violence.
Sometimes, men also suffer from honour-based violence, such as if they talk about their homosexuality or do not agree to an arranged marriage.
More than one family member can commit the violence. The offenders can be men or women. Sometimes it can be a person’s partner who commits the violence.
If you are a victim of honour-based violence, look for help:
- Talk to someone you can trust.
- Contact the police or a specialised organisation (like the Lagos State Domestic and Sexual Violence Response Team, 08137960048 or call 112 toll-free) and talk about the violence. The better you explain the situation, the better your safety can be guaranteed.