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Harmful practices includes: forced marriage, honour-based abuse and FGM. 

Honour-based abuse and forced marriage

Honour-based abuse is a collection of practices used to control behaviour within families in order to protect perceived cultural and religious beliefs and/or honour. Violence can occur when perpetrators perceive a relative has shamed the family and/or community by breaking their honour code.

A forced marriage should not be confused with an arranged marriage. Arranged marriages often work very well. Forced marriages are where one or both people are 'forced' into a marriage that their families want, without the valid consent of both people, where physical pressure or emotional abuse is used. Victims are sometimes persuaded to return to their country of origin under false pretences.

Forced Marriage Protection Orders have been introduced to protect victims from being forced into marriage. An order can also be made to protect someone who has already been forced into marriage, to help remove them from the situation.Those who fail to obey an order may be found in contempt of court and sent to prison for up to two years.

Where to find help

  • Police Emergency 999
  • Bedfordshire Police - Honour Base Abuse Unit
  • Luton - 01582 474356
  • Forced Marriage Unit - Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Further information and support

  • Karma Nirvana supports victims and survivors of forced marriage and honour-based abuse. It runs the National Honour Network Helpline where call handlers provide confidential listening support, options and guidance to all professionals, victims and survivors of honour based abuse. 
  • MixTogether is a charity that supports mixed couples (mixed race/religion/caste) who face opposition from family or community to their relationship.
  • IKWRO - The Iranian and Kurdish Women’s Rights Organisation provides advice and support to Middle Eastern women and girls living in the UK who are facing ‘honour’ based violence, domestic abuse, forced marriage or female genital mutilation.
  • Simran's Link is a community website to’ share views’ and link people in the situation of disownment. The specific connection to being disowned relates to the misplaced notions of ‘honour’ and ‘shame’. They view ‘disownment’ in this context as an act of abuse against the human rights of an individual. This website is to support, befriend, and offer a positive community to people affected in this way.
  • National Domestic Violence Helpline – service for women experiencing domestic violence, their family, friends, colleagues and others calling on their behalf. Helpline: 0808 2000 247. Email: helpline@womensaid.org.uk 
  • Luton Women’s Aid -Refuge, outreach, drop-in, advice line. Tel: 01582 391856
  • Luton All Women’s Centre - Support and services run by women for women. Tel: 01582 416783
  • Bedford Refuge (24 hour line) Tel: 01234 353592
  • South Beds Refuge (24 hour line) Tel: 01582 664634
  • Bedfordshire Asian Women’s Refuge Tel: 01234 261228

Virtual College e-learning

This course has been developed with the Forced Marriage Unit of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Home Office. It aims to raise awareness, challenge perceptions and inform you of the correct actions to take should you suspect someone is at risk.

After completing this training you will be able to:

  • Recognise the warning signs of forced marriage
  • Take the right actions to help protect the potential victim
  • Co-operate effectively with other agencies

Access the course.

Local guidance and information

Female genital mutilation (FGM)

Girls and young women at risk of FGM are a vulnerable group. All agencies must work together to identify and protect them.

Female genital mutilation (FGM) includes procedures that intentionally alter or injure female genital organs for non-medical reasons. The procedure has no health benefits for girls and women and can cause severe bleeding and problems urinating, and later, potential childbirth complications and newborn deaths.

FGM is abuse of the human rights of girls and women and is therefore a child protection issue. FGM is illegal in the UK and it is illegal to prepare, send or take a child to another country.

Girls may be taken to their countries of origin so that FGM can be carried out during the summer holidays, allowing them time to "heal" before they return to school. There are also worries that some girls may have FGM performed in the UK. Further information can be found on NHS Choices Information on Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office have published Multi-Agency Practice Guidelines to provide advice and support to frontline professionals who have responsibilities to safeguard children and protect adults from the abuses associated with female genital mutilation (FGM). This document sets out a multi-agency response and strategies to encourage agencies to cooperate and work together.

The guidance provides information on:

  • identifying when a girl (including an unborn girl) or young woman may be at risk of being subjected to FGM and responding appropriately to protect them
  • identifying when a girl or young woman has been subjected to FGM and responding appropriately to support them
  • measures that can be implemented to prevent and ultimately eradicate the practice of FGM.

If you identify or suspect a child is at risk of being subjected to FGM you must notify children’s services and follow local safeguarding procedures.

If you are concerned that a British national may be taken overseas for the purpose of FGM please also call the Foreign and Commonwealth Office on 020 7008 1500.

Female Genital Mutilation Protection Orders came in to force on the 17 July 2015 in England, Northern Ireland and Wales. FGM Protection Orders are unique to each case and contain legally binding conditions, prohibitions and restrictions to protect the person at risk of FGM. For further information please visit the NSPCC website.

Reporting FGM

It is mandatory for regulated health and social care professionals and teachers in England and Wales to report known cases of FGM in under 18-year-olds to the police.

The duty applies where in the course of their professional duties, the professional either:

  • is informed by the girl that an act of FGM has been carried out on her; or
  • observes physical signs which appear to show an act of FGM has been carried out and has no reason to believe that the act was necessary for the girl’s physical or mental health or for purposes connected with labour or birth.

The professional is expected to make a referral within one month, this includes ensuring the family is aware of the report. The duty applies only to those cases which are visually identified or disclosed to a professional by the victim and is under 18 years old).

The duty does not apply in relation to ‘at risk’ cases. In this instance Bedford Borough safeguarding procedures must be followed.

The Department of Health (DH) has published updated guidance explaining healthcare professionals’ duty to report cases of female genital mutilation (FGM) in girls under 18.

Further information: Service standards for FGM care for under 18s 

Quick guide version of Department of Health Safeguarding guidance.

The assessment tables are now in editable template format – fill them in on your screen and attach to a healthcare record directly, without the extra pages getting in the way. The new documents should also be used in conjunction with the safeguarding pathway.

The Home Office has made updates to its documents about female genital mutilation (FGM). These include: the statement opposing FGM; the procedural information for mandatory reporting of female genital mutilation; the factsheet on FGM protection orders.

Date: 01 December 2016

Further information: Statement opposing female genital mutilation

Mandatory reporting of female genital mutilation: procedural information

FGM protection orders: factsheet

FGM resources

The Department of Health has produced a range of resources for healthcare staff, including a quick guide and flowchart, poster and training slides, to ensure they are confident in responding to cases of female genital mutilation (FGM). Visit the Department of Health website for more information.

Safeguarding women and girls at risk of FGM. This document provides practical help to support NHS Organisations developing new safeguarding policies and procedures for female genital mutilation (FGM) 

Commissioning services to support women and girls with FGM. This document sets out what some elements of a successful and safe service to support women and girls with female genital mutilation (FGM) might look like. Thank you to the many people involved in the development, and we hope that these are useful for healthcare organisations.

Free FGM e-learning

The Home Office has launched free online training for frontline professionals in identifying and helping girls at risk of female genital mutilation (FGM). The training can be accessed by visiting the website: www.fgmelearning.co.uk/

Three more elearning sessions have been released, and the Health Education England e-FGM programme is live.  For more information please see www.e-lfh.org.uk/programmes/female-genital-mutilation

National FGM related support services

FORWARD UK

FORWARD (Foundation for Women's Health Research and Development) is an African Diaspora women led UK-registered campaign and support charity dedicated to advancing and safeguarding the sexual and reproductive health and rights of African girls and women. They work in UK, Europe and Africa to help change practices and policies that affect access, dignity and wellbeing. They tackle female genital mutilation (FGM), child marriage and related rights of girls and young women. www.forwarduk.org.uk/

FGM National Helpline

If you are worried that a child may be at risk of FGM you can make an anonymous call to the free 24-hour FGM helpline on 0800 028 3550 at fgmhelp@nspcc.org.uk.

Department of Health

Further information

FGM guidance, research and resources

On Friday 1 April 2016 the Government published, under powers in the Serious Crime Act 2015, multi-agency statutory guidance on female genital mutilation and the consultation response.


FGM ‘Passport’ Statement opposing female genital mutilation has now been published in the following community languages: Turkish, Urdu, Farsi. Somali, Swahili, Arabic, Amharic and Tigrinya.

The organisation, Rights of Women, has published a briefing on female genital mutilation and the law. Rights of Women 01 October 2015

Local contacts

ACCM (UK) established in 2008, is a Charity and an international non-governmental organisation (NGO), evolved from a major local charity, Agency for Culture and Change Management - (ACCM Sheffield), whose primary role was to lobby for and communicate the effects of legislation concerning Female Genital Mutilation and other harmful traditional practices in the UK. 

Telephone: 0044(0) 1234 356 910
Mobile: 0044(0) 7712482568

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