Lockdown sparks Increase in ‘Honour’-Based Abuse Cases

Organisations supporting individuals at risk of ‘honour’-based abuse (HBA) have reported an increase in calls to helplines from people in the North West during lockdown. 

The UK Government lockdown to combat the COVID-19 outbreak prompted a 30 percent increase in calls to Savera UK’s service, from both individuals and professionals requiring specialist support and guidance.

The charity also reported a significant spike in existing clients contacting the organisation for additional emotional and practical support during lockdown, increasing the number of active cases Savera UK is managing.

Regional data from shared with Savera UK by Karma Nirvana, another charity supporting those at risk of ‘honour’-based abuse, also highlighted an spike in calls to its helpline, with a significant increase in calls from Merseyside, Cheshire and Greater Manchester*. 

Merseyside saw the biggest increase, with calls up 460 per cent in comparison to the three weeks prior to lockdown, while Cheshire saw a 55 per cent increase. Greater Manchester, however, saw a nine per cent decrease in incoming calls to the helpline, a change that both Savera UK and Karma Nirvana deem equally as concerning.

‘Honour’-based abuse (HBA) is a ‘hidden’ crime, where those at risk fear what might happen to them if they speak out. The consequences of ‘dishonour’ or speaking out can include physical and physiological abuse, abandonment and also death.

During lockdown, those at risk of HBA and other harmful practices may have been confined with one perpetrator or many, including partners, close and extended family and even community members. This differs from domestic abuse where there is usually only a single perpetrator.

Afrah said: “I have a deep ongoing concern for those at risk of HBA as lockdown restrictions begin to ease. We know that harmful practices are ‘hidden’ crimes that are widely underreported even in normal circumstances.

“The increase in calls to helplines during the lockdown period will only be the tip of the iceberg. However, any drop in reporting is equally concerning. Those at risk from HBA and other harmful practices have been under even closer surveillance, with limited or no access to the telephone or internet. 

“The small windows of opportunity for them to reach out for help during appointments with trusted health and social care professionals, or at places of education have been removed for many months. 

“I believe we are still yet to see the full impact of the UK lockdown on both survivors of and people at risk from HBA and other harmful practices and it vitally important that they know that help is available. Whatever their situation we can and we will help them.”

For help and support please contact the Savera UK helpline 0800 107 0726 (Monday – Friday, 9am – 5pm).  In an emergency, please call 999.

To find out more about Savera UK and the services it offers, visit: saverauk.co.uk

*Karma Nirvana call data taken from from 23rd March until 11th May.