Criminologist Rachael Aplin’s new research shows that mothers are a ‘driving force’ in honour-based abuse. Out of the 100 honour crimes she studied, 49 of them involved mothers perpetuating the crime. However, the mothers’ roles in these crimes were often not recorded.

According to the study mothers can inflict violence on children, with an intention to induce an abortion. They inflict psychological abuse and condone violence inflicted on their daughters by other male relatives, mainly sons.

Aplin says that victims are usually loyal to their mothers and they are reluctant to prosecute them. This contributes to “the blurred boundaries between mothers as ‘perpetrators’ and mothers as secondary ‘victims’ acting under duress”.

Aplin also says that as many of the victims of abuse are children, social service agencies will mistakenly put them back in their mothers’ care, believing that they will be protected.

In the research, the abuse included kicking, slapping, assault with household objects, cutting the daughters’ hair, and even threatening to sell them, and confiscating their papers.

“The instinctive reaction from the public and from police officers and social workers is that mothers protect and nurture and love their children. But actually we need to rethink that,” she says. 

Psychologist Varkha Chulani says that the research is correct. Mothers play an important role in passing down traditions and customs to their children, she tells SheThePeople.TV.

“Since the woman plays such a significant role in child rearing, it is obvious that her beliefs about class, culture, religion, superstition, old wives tales are often narrated and to an unthinking child, imbibed, as the truth.So why should honour-based abuse not follow? If the point of view of the mother (since it is rarely questioned) continues to be the dictum by which the family lives,” she says.

Read: Working Towards Bringing Mothers Back To The Workforce