About the Research

On 1st April 2019, the Domestic Abuse (Scotland) Act 2018 introduced a law to criminalise a course of conduct considered “abusive” whereby an individual who abuses their partner or ex-partner may be guilty of an offence. This legislation represents a concerted effort to address the complexity of domestic abuse, however, there remains a legislative gap regarding protection for victims suffering abuse rooted in ‘honour’. 

In Scotland, there is no statutory definition of honour-based abuse (HBA) and no specific crime of HBA within Scots’ law.    At a strategic policy level, the Scottish Government’s Equally Safe Strategy incorporates HBA within the wider definition of domestic abuse to be recognised as “so called ‘honour based’ violence, including dowry related violence, female genital mutilation, forced and child marriages, and ‘honour’ crimes.”   

Leading grassroots women’s aid organisations in Scotland (Hemat Gryffe Women’s Aid, Glasgow and Shakti Women’s Aid, Edinburgh) support women subjected to HBA perpetrated by intimate partners, family, and community members. They are proactive in advocating for better protection for victims and recognise that at legal and policy level there is insufficient protection for women abused by multiple perpetrators.     Research by McLaughlin, Wheate and McGowan (2018) identified that women can experience abusive behaviour(s) and mistreatment at the hands of intimate partners and also individuals from and within the extended family and community. 

The research will consider the protection provided to victims of gender-based abuse through the law and policing. The project will illuminate and evaluate the effect this has on women who are impacted by the intersecting factors of gender, ethnicity, family networks, linguistic, financial, educational, immigration and other barriers in the face of HBA.

The research will draw together an international multi-disciplinary team of practitioners and experts in law, psychology, social work, social policy, government, and the women’s sector, along with the women victim-survivors of HBA, to consider HBA in Scotland. 

It is anticipated that the research findings will explore the concerns of women’s organisations; provide additional information and knowledge for relevant stakeholders working with victim/survivors of HBA; develop ideas for better legal protection against HBA; and simultaneously inform those working at strategic and governmental levels on this issue.