In April, Association Korektivi prepared an analytical report with the results of a survey conducted among experts through in-depth interviews.
The main questions that interested the researchers were what the experts meant by honour related abuses; what are the risk factors for the spread of honour related abuses, what is the assessment of experts on the level of spread of the phenomenon in the country, as well as to describe the socio-demographic profile of risk groups, to examine the opinion of experts on interaction, awareness and readiness to work on such cases and finally to summarize the recommendations received.
The interviews involved 24 experts working on honour related violence or related to the topic. Including representatives of the Ministry of Interior, the Social Assistance Agency, the International Organization for Migration, lawyers, teachers, academic researchers, psychologists from anti-violence centers, etc.
The present study found that experts do not have a single position on what phenomena are included in the concept of “honour related abuses”
The term "honour related violence" summarizes abuses of various kinds, experts conclude. According to the driving motive for their commission, we can conditionally divide them into two types - in order to prevent unwanted behavior or to sanction actions that have already violated family honour. "Preventive" forms of violence in defense of family morality mainly include early forced marriages and sexual control. In contrast, some of the sanctioning acts of honour violence are characterized by a high degree of cruelty, such as murder or genital mutilation. These two types of abuse involve different coping strategies. While in the case of violence for the purpose of prevention the information campaigns for raising public awareness are of paramount importance, in the case of forms of violence for the purpose of sanction, the penalties for the committed violence should be leading.
An important prerequisite for the successful fight against honour related abuses in the country is for the expert community to be aware of the specifics of this violence. Good practice in this regard would be to work with the institutions and in particular the police, the Social Assistance Agency and health mediators in order to raise awareness among these professionals. Therefore, a broader consensus and awareness of violence in these marriages should be built among the expert community. Otherwise, due to the different position of experts, early forced marriages may be a "stumbling block" in the fight against honours related violence in Bulgaria.
As people living in a certain society, they are much less likely to recognize honour related abuses among the social groups and cultural traditions of the society in which they live than to identify it in other countries, the study shows.
If the fight against this type of violence does not place a clear focus on the more common forms and abuses and does not work directly with at-risk groups, there is a risk of underestimating its seriousness in society. Therefore, strategies should be developed to combat the forms of honour violence found in the country. For example, early forced marriages are a problem for Bulgaria, not acid attacks when it comes to shame of family honour.
Most of the interviewed experts are of the opinion that honour related abuses are not widespread in the country, but are rather inherent in closed and marginalized social groups. Two such risk groups are the Roma community, refugees and asylum seekers in Bulgaria. The male figures in the family - father, brother, sometimes husband - are the main perpetrators of acts of honour related violence. The experts in the study consider the consequences for the victim of the experienced honour related violence only in an individual plan - as reduced social chances in life. At the same time, field experts share positive transformation processes in the communities themselves, where honour related violence occurs. Such events are caused by experience abroad or acquaintance with another way of life, different from the one with which the individual from the community is accustomed. That is why we need to work on the presentation of new patterns of behavior for representatives of risk groups. This can serve as a prerequisite for changing attitudes towards honour related violence.
Concentrating efforts on overcoming the most common form of violence based on community motives in our country - early marriages - would have a positive effect on the lives of the largest number of people, according to the interviewees. The involvement of community members as officials (health mediators, teachers) also involved in the issue of honour related violence would significantly help to detect these cases earlier. This will make it easier to gain the trust and support of the community itself.
Measures to curb early marriages include reducing the response time to identify such cases and enacting higher penalties for perpetrators.
Getting an education significantly limits the possibilities for early forced marriages and other forms of violence. The main concrete proposals for legislative changes are related to stricter penalties for early marriages and the adoption of the Istanbul Convention on the Limitation of Domestic Violence.
The interviews and the analytical report were conducted in the framework of Activity 1: Analysis of the situation in Bulgaria and Norway with regard to honour related abuses.
To learn more, read the full report here:
Follow the project website for more information about the project or follow www.activecitizensfund.bg
This article was created with the financial support of the Active Citizens Fund Bulgaria under the Financial Mechanism of the European Economic Area. The responsibility for the content of the document lies with the Center for Sustainable Communities Development and under no circumstances can it be assumed that this document reflects the official opinion of the European Economic Area Financial Mechanism and the Operator of the Active Citizens Fund Bulgaria.