Language & Key Terminology

Talking about survivors and people at risk

Do not use the term ‘victim’ to describe those who have escaped HBA or abusive environments involving other harmful practices, instead refer to them as ‘survivors’ or ask them how they would like to be described – don’t make assumptions

The term victim would only be used in the context of a death related to a harmful practice, for example: “Shafilea Ahmed was the victim of an ‘honour’ killing.
Those who have not escaped should be described as ‘people at risk’. When talking about communities where HBA and harmful practices are identified, refer to ‘affected communities’ or ‘communities at risk’
Talking/writing about HBA/HBV
When writing about ‘honour’ killings, ‘honour’-based abuse (HBA) or ‘honour’- based violence (HBV), the word ‘honour’ should always be in inverted commas, to denote the fact that there is no ‘honour’ in these abusive practices.
The recommended lead term is ‘honour’-based abuse, as this encompasses the physical, emotional, and practical abuse (e.g., financial) that those at risk endure. ‘Honour’-based violence should only be used when talking about specific acts of violence committed in the name of ‘honour’, for example when talking about physical attacks or ‘honour’ killings.
More information on HBA here
Talking/writing about female genital mutilation
The World Health Organisation describes female genital mutilation (FGM) as a practice involving the partial or total removal of external female genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons. The practice has no health benefits for girls and women and is not a religious practice – it is an abuse of human rights. The practice can also affect people who do not identify as female. While Savera UK uses the term ‘FGM’ in its external communications, when working privately with survivors, it takes care to use the language and terminology preferred by the individual. When reporting on FGM is important to understand that other terms for the practice, such as FGM/C, FGC, ‘genital mutilation/GM’ and ‘cutting’ are also used. If you are not bound by a house style, you may wish to consider asking the survivor, spokesperson, or organisation you are working with what term they would like to use and why.
More information on FGM here
Talking/writing about forced marriage
As there is often confusion between ‘forced marriage’ and ‘arranged marriage’ it is very important to communicate the difference. Forced marriage is where one or both participants enter the marriage without giving their consent, often under duress from their families or community, while an arranged marriage is where both participants give full consent. By wrongly conflating the two, you risk confusing traditional cultural practices with human rights violations.
More information on forced marriage here

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