Honour-based violence can be prevented

Kunniaan liittyvää väkivaltaa voidaan ehkäistä. Honour-related violence can be prevented.The aim of the Finnish League of Human Rights is to prevent honour conflicts and human rights violations in Finland.

We support communities, families and officials in preventing conflicts and attempting to peacefully solve them. The primary focus groups of our work are immigrant communities, in which honour-based thinking is respected and in which honour conflicts may arise. The work began in 2010.

We want to intervene in conflicts as early as possible and solve them together with all parties involved in the conflict. A sustainable and peaceful interactive relationship between the parties to the conflict may be established, and violence and renewal of the conflict may be prevented through inclusive discussion.

We took part in the preparation of the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health educational material on honour-based violence for officials. We appeal to officials that they would take the responsibility vested in them in preventing honour-based violence and in the the training of those who hold office. We insist that officials ensure the funding and the continuity of the work.

We will do our best to make it possible that those suffering honour-based violence will have access to services, such as over-night shelters. We follow up on judiciary and societal processes from the viewpoint of honour-based violence. We are also advocating for the threat of honour-based violence as basis for asylum.

Change of Attitude through Discussion

We work in partnership with various ethnic and religious communities. We have networked with organisations and officials in Sweden, Great Britain, Jordan and the Kurdish areas in Iraq, as well as in Finland. We also co-ordinate a network working against honour-related violence and a support group for immigrants. The operations are funded by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, with proceeds from Veikkaus.

Through co-operation we aim at a permanent change in attitudes in communities wherein honour-related conflicts take place. Our workshops and seminars offer members of the communities a chance to constructively process sensitive issues. Our main partners in community work are the communities’ organisations and expert groups whose members are from various backgrounds within their own communities.

The Honour-Related Thinking and Violence Report

The Finnish League for Human Rights published an extensive report on honour-related violence and intervention in Finland on the 13th of June, 2016. The report describes the various forms and characteristics of honour-based violence and gives advice to officials on how to recognise and intervene in honour-based violence.

A link to the study report (only in Finnish): Kunniakäsitykset ja väkivalta – selvitys kunniaan liittyvästä väkivallasta ja siihen puuttumisesta Suomessa (pdf)
A link to the summary of the study report (in English): Violence and conceptions of honour – summary of the study report on honour-based violence and measures for intervention in Finland (pdf)

Read more (currently only in Finnish):

Contact: project manager Johanna Latvala

johanna.latvala(at)ihmisoikeusliitto.fi, tel. 044 706 1447

Many communities experience honour-related violence

Conflicts arising from honour are part of very old traditions. Communities that base the honour of the family on its members’ conduct, especially on the chastity of girls and women, experience honour-based conflicts. Such a conflict arises when a member of a family is suspected of having broken the chastity values of a community.

In the so-called honour cultures the honour of a family is defined through the conduct of its female members and any departure from accepted behaviour brings shame to the whole family. Families attempt to prevent this through the control of behaviour. If a girl or a woman is seen to have brought shame to the family she may be punished. The punishment is expected to restore the family’s honour.

Victims are usually girls and women

The victims of honour-related violence are mostly girls and women but sometimes also boys and men. Boys may be forced to control the actions of their sisters and in extreme cases kill them. Homosexual men may be subject to the same violence that is enforced upon women.

Honour-based violence is not restricted to certain countries, ethnic groups or religions. It takes place in many communities around the world. Reasons behind the conflict may include

  • Courting or befriending a person that the family does not approve of
  • Divorce
  • Refusal to marry
  • Indecent clothing or becoming too ”Western”
  • Rumours of indecent behaviour

Forms of honour-based violence include

  • Restricted movement, circle of friends and clothing
  • Mental pressure and threatening
  • Deprivation of personal liberty
  • Battery and rape
  • Murder

Honour-related conflicts in Finland

In Finland honour-related violence is mainly experienced in immigrant and multicultural families. There are individual differences between communities – some want to uphold harmful traditions while some try to do away with them. Therefore it is impossible to deduce how a person considers honour-based thinking based on the person’s ethnic or religious background.

There are no exact statistics on the prevalence of honour-based violence as the figures are not compiled and no extensive research has been conducted. The Finnish League for Human Rights has been involved in solving around 80 honour-based conflicts, in which people of 15 different nationalities have played a part.

Contact: project manager Johanna Latvala

johanna.latvala(at)ihmisoikeusliitto.fi, tel. 044 706 1447