culture, discrimination and hate, horror, religion

Religion and Human Rights (9): Honor Killings

Hina Jilani

Hina Jilani

The right to life of women in Pakistan is conditional on their obeying social norms and traditions. Hina Jilani, lawyer and human rights activist

An honor killing is a murder, carried out by a family to punish a female family member who has supposedly brought dishonor on the family. The acts which are the cause of dishonor can be

  • refusing an arranged marriage
  • being the victim of a sexual assault or rape
  • seeking a divorce, even from an abusive husband
  • committing adultery or fornication
  • pre-marital sex
  • flirting
  • etc.

Men can also be targeted by honor killings, but more rarely (for example in the case of homosexuality).

Causes

  • The practice is mostly associated with Muslim cultures (sometimes in minority Muslim groups in the West), although there is no support for the act in Islam. And it does occur in other cultures as well. In India, more than 5.000 brides are killed annually because their marriage dowries are considered insufficient. (However, one can argue that honor is not the main motivation in such cases). It also occured in some Latin cultures (“crime of passion” is often still a “mitigating circumstance”). In Muslim countries, the practice is seen by some as a justified enforcement of religious rules, and therefore not strictly a matter of honor. This is corroborated by the fact that sometimes the killings are perpetrated against women by individuals who are not close relatives, but who claim enforcement of religious rules as their motive. In Iraq, for example, honor killings are conducted by armed insurgent groups on politically active women and those who did not follow a strict dress code, and women who are perceived as human rights defenders.
  • There is a strong correlation between honor killings and illiteracy rates.
  • Men often use honor killings to assert their dominant patriarchal status. Women in the family may support the practice in order to preserve the honor of other female family members and to preserve their chances of getting married in the community. It’s a kind of purge or purification.
  • Some claim that the practice goes back to ancient motivations based on anxieties about reproductive power. Women, who were considered by the tribe to be a factory for making men, were forced through “honor” killings to obey the man’s family planning and not to reproduce outside of the tribe or the extended family.
  • In a society where marriages are arranged by fathers and money is exchanged, a woman’s desire to choose her own husband is a financial problem, one which can be “translated” in terms of honor.

Consequences

Apart from the obvious consequences (death or lifelong disability), the practice of honor killings also forces women to stay in abusive marriages or to avoid reporting rape. If the women are killed, they are buried in unmarked graves and the community denies that they ever existed. And if they don’t die, the chances of receiving justice are minimal as many governments fail to prosecute the crime. And even when there is a trial, it’s the woman’s behavior that becomes the focus, not the defendant’s. As a result, the women sink deeper into shame and often don’t take the trouble of reporting the crime.

Numbers

Because the murders frequently go unreported and the perpetrators unpunished, it is difficult to get precise numbers on the phenomenon. Estimates range between hundreds and thousands of women each year. In Pakistan, it is estimated that every day at least three women are victims of the practice.

More numbers here.

What can be done?

Some say that the backwardness of the tribes where most killings take place makes it very difficult to do anything. However, education can work. The fact that the Koran does not prescribe the practice should be explained and taught. Honor killings are just one instance of gender discrimination and education should focus on women’s rights and the equality of women. Where the practice is linked to arranged marriages and dowries, one should first tackle these problems.

The judiciary and the police should be forced to intervene. Penal codes should be modernized, and the economic dependence of women should be dealt with.

Related phenomena

Related phenomena are acid attacks (instead of killing women, acid is poured on them) and honor suicides. People can be forced by their community or by their feeling of guilt to kill themselves. Relatives thereby avoid penalties for murder.

honor killing

(source, Khalid Tanveer/ AP Photo)

Pakistani women hold protest rally to condemn an honor killing.

honor killing

(source)

A screen shot from a cellphone video posted on an Internet site allegedly shows Iraqi Doaa Khalil Aswad, a 17-year old girl who was stoned and kicked to death in 2007 after she offended her minority Yezidi community – an old Iraqi sect that is neither Muslim nor Christian – by eloping with a Muslim man, thereby violating the taboo on inter-faith marriages. Her execution lasted two hours. Her killers were members of her extended family, mainly cousins and their friends. Several local people interviewed subsequently expressed support for the stoning, and only few said it was wrong.

More on gender discrimination.

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37 thoughts on “Religion and Human Rights (9): Honor Killings

  1. India has ‘honour’ killing as well as dowry deaths, and in fact around one third of ‘honour’ killers in the UK are from India. These are mainly Sikh, ironically as ‘honour’ killing is explicitly mentioned and unequivocally condemned in Sikh scripture. ‘Honor’ killings in India often concern intra-caste or inter-gotra relationships. Cases are cited here: http://www.stophonourkillings.com/?name=News&catid=8.

    • Liten cut up dicks!!!! you fucking going around saying ALLAH IS GREAT! yet you ridicule his creation!!! don’t you get what the fuck you are doing…!!!?????? you slice off your dick skin because of what!! to undermine GOD! he is perfect in everyway he made man perfectly HOW DARE YOU PAKI BENJODS mother fuckers, sister fuckers, child sex abusers, cousin sister fuckers, niece fuckers SEX OBSESSED, YOU WILL GO TO HEAVEN IF YOU BLOW YOURSELVES UP AND GET TO ENJOY 4O VIRGINS!!!! what fuck!!!! you perverted converts to ISLAM…. WHAT EXAMPLE ARE YOU GIVING TO THE WORLD….

      IS THIS WHAT YOU CALL PEACE? YOU THINK YOU ARE SETTING A GOOD EXAMPLE IN THE HONOR KILLINGS YOU DO… YOU MUSLIM MEN FUCK WHITE WOMEN, YOU HAPPILY CONVERT HINDU AND SIKH WOMEN TO ISLAM.. as you believe it to be a muslims duty to convert on kafir… what fuck!! yet do we have honor killings after you muslim men fuck up our family members.. NOOOOO IT ONLY HAPPENS TO YOU GUYS……… GET A LIFE.. RESPECT GODS LAW.. WE ARE ALL EQUAL… STOP MAKING PEOPLES LIVES HELL

      • avantika says:

        very well said sir..
        Muslims think that they are the most devoted people…
        but the things they are doing in d name of their religion, in the name of their god its truly shameful …
        someone should take the initiative to make them understand that they are really doing something wrong …but it would be appreciated if you would have used better language ..

        • Ashik Ahamed says:

          Am agree with u all, I’m also a muslim, i’m also very much dissappointed because of our rules, I’m strictly against it. If those mother fucker come into my notice I would kill those basturds and I would kill my parents also if they do so.

  2. I have Bell’s Palsy and enjoy your blog very much. First time I’ve commented, but have been reading here and there.
    Great blog. I enjoy reading it every chance I get and value your opinions!

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  10. um says:

    god bless america

    HUNDREDS OF WOMEN RAPED EACH DAY IN AMERICA
    SUICIDE EVERDAY AND KILLING OTHERS AT SCHOOL
    DRUGS ROAM THE COUNTRY
    CHILD MOLESTERS AOUND EVERY FEW HUNDRED YARDS
    WIFE BEATINGS
    ALCOHOL RELATED ABUSE – RUNA WAY CHILDREN FATHERS DIRTY PERVERTS.WHAT A GREAT CHRISTIAN NATION god bless america HE SURE IS
    AND THE LIST GOES ON

  11. Thesis says:

    I think that what is being done is absolutely ridiculous… in fact I m am writing my masters thesis on the subject of honor killings and fgm… if anyone has any relevant info please post ….

    thanks

    • Tiffany says:

      Hi….I was interested to see you have chosen HBV as a topic for your thesis. I am a Staff Nurse on a Burns Unit and have chosen HBV as a subject for a presentation, looking to improve care for suspected victims of HBV. If you have come across any useful information I would be most grateful if you could point me in it’s direction. I have contacted Karma Nirvana and found some Government publications and would be happy to share any information with yourself.
      Thanks for your time
      Tiffany

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  14. akshay dhar says:

    leave aside muslims…what about hindus,gurjars,and other communities doing this….who will stop them??

    • molshri says:

      akshay it would be appreciated if you would elaborate on your point of view … I would like to know more about what exactly you mean to say ??

  15. do you people honestly think that all of us do that? If I ever even laid a finger on my daughter, I would cut it off! It’s just those extremists that do this, just like how extremist Germans killed the Jews, and Extremist Christians killed the…everything not white. Most everybody is peaceful, almost every human being. It’s just these dishonerable people that do this. *Hint Hint* disonerable.

    Anyways, if you people read through the lines you’ll read that the woman was actually having a relationship with a Muslim man, but the Iraqi’s who were not Christians or Muslims killed her for what ever the stupid reason.

    To move away the blame or to take it away is pitiful on my part. We should not be turning this young innocent women’s death into a political issue, we should be turning into a “how we can help” issue.

    May Allah bless this poor, poor lady.

  16. Ardilla says:

    I am from colombia, I read everithing about this shit…we have doctor who kills their daugther because honour killing, all u damn fucking muslim must dissapear!!!

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  18. Tom says:

    I am not muslim, nor Christian yet I truly believe in a higher power. For you that blame Islam are full of ignorance and I pity you, we can sit here and talk about what catholics did to women for years but again what will that do? All that will cause is more violence which by the way will never breed peace. Its easy to be a computer tough guy and sound hard while insulting the “others” from the comfort of your seats. And the whole time, the real problem is not fixed. “Wiping them away” just shows that you are a virgin to war and it fixes nothing while a gendercide unveals right under our nose. How can you attack each other when the problem is not religion but the old school tradition of these sub-cultures. Sub-culture being the key word, the answer is education. I have vouched to graduate and battle violence with education because whn i was in war with the infantry, violence only created violence. But these sub-cultures lack education, which i can see some of you do too…Talk is cheap, talk shit like that on their turf, not here on the internet hiding or try to find a solution rather than pouring more fuel to the fire you dumb wanna be tough guys. I wish to volunteer to go help these women no matter where they reside. And if you did your research, islam does not preach on this, just like catholics didnt preach on the witch hunts. Internet tough guys, thats so funny…Talking like that does not make you any different from those you wish to wipe off, think about it…
    USMC INFANTRY COMBAT VETERAN (what….)

    • sushiii says:

      i soo agree with u :)
      its not any religion..
      but just a persons mentality.
      the corrupt people of this world is the reason the religion has suffered.

  19. sushiii says:

    i have been doing a case study on honor killing for my sociology project in school.
    and i cant tell u how sad this topic makes me feel.
    being a girl especially it breaks my heart. that we are one that give life and we our self dont get a chance to even live. :(
    i also stay in a Muslim county and even though iam not Muslim myslef. i share a big group of muslim friends and have deep respect for them.
    the truth is… no religion teaches any one bad.. and if your well educated about Islam you would know what a beautiful and peaceful religion it is.
    it the people who are corrupt and pathetic.
    and because of them the religion has suffered.
    THEY ALL THINK THEY WILL GO TO HEAVE…. ALLAH CANT EVEN FIND A PLACE FOR THEM IN HELL.

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