Sector Partners Agree Statutory HBA Definition

Progress in working to end ‘honour’-based abuse (HBA) has long been hampered by a lack of a clear definition within statutory frameworks, and issue that Savera UK has frequently raised through its research and evidence provided to inquiries and investigations into response to HBA. 

In March, Savera UK supported the launch of the #Push4Change campaign, an initiative that called upon the government to urgently introduce a statutory definition for HBA. This week, in a landmark move, we came together with Karma Nirvana and other sector partners to agree on a statutory definition to define HBA, which is legally sound and ready to be added to the statute book. 

Powerful Call to Action

As a collective, the sector has also written and published its joint letter to Minister Laura Farris, inviting them to meet and discuss the impact this would have and to urgently introduce this statutory definition for HBA. This milestone represents a pivotal moment in the fight against HBA, offering a unified framework to identify and address cases effectively. 

This development signals not only progress but also a powerful call to action. As advocates for change, the sector champions the rights of HBA survivors and demands accountability from policymakers.

A statutory definition for HBA is a crucial starting point for identifying cases and supporting survivors and those at risk. Statutory definitions play a vital role in providing precision, uniformity, and legal acknowledgement to critical matters. 

A Statutory Definition of HBA: The Impact

The impact of the introduction of a statutory definition of HBA will mean that there is better identification through shared understanding of HBA across all professional sectors, improved protection of survivors and those at risk through better guidance from statutory guidance and through survivor empowerment, more research and accurate data collection as well as more consistent reporting, which in turn leads to appropriate resource allocation through informed decision-making.

Despite the tireless efforts of charities over the past three decades, effectively dealing with HBA remains challenging. Last year, the Women and Equality Committee’s recommendation for a legal definition was rejected by the government, leaving vulnerable HBA survivors and those at risk in a vicious cycle of being continually misunderstood without a definition.

A survivor of ‘honour’-based abuse, who provided evidence to the Inquiry, stated:  “As someone who has faced ‘honour’-based abuse, it’s disheartening to know that we still don’t have a clear legal definition. If we genuinely want to put an end to this, we need to start by accurately defining it. It’s not just a matter of words; it’s about giving survivors the recognition and support they deserve, and that begins with acknowledging the problem for what it truly is.” 

Speaking of the sector-developed statutory definition, Savera UK CEO and Founder, Afrah Qassim, said: “A clear statutory definition for HBA is absolutely vital to improved understanding, identification and reporting of HBA, which in turn facilitates more effective and appropriate responses. This proposed definition has been developed by specialist, frontline services from across the UK with vast collective experience in working to end HBA. It will protect those of risk by giving professionals a robust framework to work with and it will empower survivors by recognising the severity of their risks/threat and making it easier for them to report and access help. It will also allow consistent reporting that feeds into improved data collection, which can be used to inform policy and service delivery. As a service we will be adopting this definition as our standard, alongside our sector peers, and we urge the government to do the same.”

You can read the joint letter in full here.