Becki Kaur has recently submitted her PhD, which explores how professionals working in the domestic abuse sector understand, explain, and address ‘honour’-based violence. We’re excited to have her working with us on a six-month project to develop the library’s resources on this very important topic.
I’ve heard some people say that, by the time it gets to the end of their PhD, they’ve fallen out of love with their research topic. In this respect, I consider myself fortunate. Although the nature of my area of research – ‘honour’-based violence – is (to put it nicely) deeply unpleasant, I feel as passionate about raising awareness of the subject as I did when I started my research journey four years ago. So, when the opportunity arose to work with the Ahmed Iqbal Ullah Race Relations Resource Centre (AIUC) to help develop ‘honour’-based violence-related resources, I didn’t have to be asked twice!
‘Honour’-based violence – known more commonly as ‘HBV’ – is the collective term for various forms of abuse that are perpetrated against victims because they are believed to have done something to bring shame on their family or community. HBV can take many forms, from physical, psychological, and sexual abuse through to forced marriage, female genital mutilation (FGM) and murder (so-called ‘honour killing’). Typically perpetrated by relatives of the victim, sometimes in concert with members of the wider community, HBV is predominantly directed against women and girls, though it is important to note that men can also be targeted. HBV cuts across a range of cultures and communities; in Britain, it is most commonly (and problematically) associated with populations of South Asian and Middle Eastern heritage.
Owing to a combination of factors – including continued campaigning by women’s organisations and several high-profile cases of ‘honour killings’ – awareness of HBV in Britain has increased significantly over the last two decades. Once silent from public discussion, HBV is now at the centre of various initiatives designed to prevent, address, and raise awareness about the issue. In the last four years alone, we have seen the criminalisation of forced marriage, the creation of a national memorial day for victims (held on 14 July), and the first-ever inspection by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary into the police response to HBV.
Despite this progress, there remains much to be done with regards to improving understanding and knowledge about HBV. In comparison to other forms of violence against women and girls – particularly domestic abuse, with which it is most commonly associated – HBV is generally overlooked. It is here that my role at the AIUC comes in.
There is currently a gap in the Centre’s resources where HBV and related matters (such as forced marriage and FGM) are concerned, and the purpose of my time here is to narrow this by developing resources on the subject. When complete, it is envisaged that the collection will comprise – amongst other things – a collection of the seminal texts in the field of HBV, annotated reading lists, study guides, and information on key experts and organisations working in the field. I want the AIUC to be the ‘go to’ place for anyone interested in finding out more about HBV, whatever their occupation or background. To this end, I intend for the resources to appeal to a wide range of audiences, from academics and researchers through to practitioners, community groups, and schools. My intention is to undertake consultation exercises with key stakeholders in the area to make the collection as practically-useful as possible.
I’ll be blogging on the ongoing development of the resources as well as other issues related to HBV. I might even try to get some guest bloggers to share their views and expertise about HBV too! Towards the end of the project, I am hoping to organise an event to mark the launch of this important collection – details will be posted here in due course, so make sure to keep checking back.
I view this project as a crucial part in the ongoing endeavour to raise awareness of HBV, and I’m very much looking forward to seeing the collection take shape over the forthcoming months.