An honor killing
family by other members, due to the perpetrators’ belief that the victim has brought shame or dishonor upon the family, or has violated the principles of a community or a religion, usually for reasons such as refusing to enter an arranged marriage, being in a relationship that is disapproved by their family, having sex outside marriage, becoming the victim of rape, dressing in ways which are deemed inappropriate, engaging in non-heterosexual relations or renouncing a faith
The cultural features which lead to honor killings are complex. Honor killings involve violence and fear as a tool of maintaining control. Honor killings are argued to have their origin among nomadic peoples and herdsmen: such populations carry all their valuables with them and risk having them stolen, and do not have proper recourse to law. As a result, inspiring fear, using aggression, and cultivating a reputation for violent revenge in order to protect property is preferred to other behaviors. In societies where there is a weak rule of law, people must build fierce reputations.
In many cultures where honor is of central value, men are sources, or active generators/agents of that honor, while the only effect that women can have on honor is to destroy it. Once the family’s or clan’s honor is considered to have been destroyed by a woman, there is a need for immediate revenge to restore it, in order for the family to avoid losing face in the community. As Amnesty International statement notes:
The regime of honour is unforgiving: women on whom suspicion has fallen are not given an opportunity to defend themselves, and family members have no socially acceptable alternative but to remove the stain on their honour by attacking the woman.
d honor killings is complex. The way through which women in honor-based societies are considered to bring dishonor to men is often through their sexual behavior. Indeed, violence related to female sexual expression has been documented since Ancient Rome, when the pater familias had the right to kill an unmarried sexually active daughter or an adulterous wife. In medieval Europe, early Jewish law mandated stoning for an adulterous wife and her partner.Carolyn Fluehr-Lobban, an anthropology professor at Rhode Island College, writes that an act, or even alleged act, of any female sexual misconduct, upsets the moral order of the culture, and bloodshed is the only way to remove any shame brought by the actions and restore social equilibrium.However, the relation between honor and female sexuality is a complicated one, and some authors argue that it is not women’s sexuality per se that is the ‘problem’, but rather women’s self-determination in regard to it, as well as fertility. Sharif Kanaana, professor of anthropology at Birzeit University, says that honor killing is:
A complicated issue that cuts deep into the history of Islamic society. .. What the men of the family, clan, or tribe seek control of in a patrilineal society is reproductive power. Women for the tribe were considered a factory for making men. The honour killing is not a means to control sexual power or behavior. What’s behind it is the issue of fertility, or reproductive power.
In some cultures, honor killings are considered less serious than other murders simply because they arise from long-standing cultural traditions and are thus deemed appropriate or justifiable. Additionally, according to a poll done by the BBC’s Asian network, 1 in 10 of the 500 young Asians surveyed said they would condone any murder of someone who threatened their family’s honor. Nighat Taufeeq of the women’s resource center Shirkatgah in Lahore, Pakistan says: “It is an unholy alliance that works against women: the killers take pride in what they have done, the tribal leaders condone the act and protect the killers and the police connive the cover-up. The lawyer and human rights activist Hina Jilani says, “The right to life of women in Pakistan is conditional on their obeying social norms and traditions.” A July 2008 Turkish study by a team from Dicle University on honor killings in the Southeastern Anatolia Region, the predominantly Kurdish area of Turkey, has so far shown that little if any social stigma is attached to honor killing. It also comments that the practice is not related to a feudal societal structure, “there are also perpetrators who are well-educated university graduates. Of all those surveyed, 60 percent are either high school or university graduates or at the very least, literate.”. In contemporary times, the changing cultural and economic status of women has also been used to explain the occurrences of honor killings. Women in largely patriarchal cultures who have gained economic independence from their families go against their male-dominated culture. Some researchers argue that the shift towards greater responsibility for women and less for their fathers may cause their male family members to act in oppressive and sometimes violent manners in order to regain authority. This change of culture can also be seen to have an effect in Western cultures such as Britain among South Asian and Middle-Eastern communities where honor killings often arise from women seeking greater independence and adopting seemingly Western values. For women who trace their ancestry back to the Middle East or South Asia, wearing clothes that are considered Western, having a boyfriend, or refusing to accept an arranged marriage are all offenses that can and have led to an honor killing. Fareena Alam, editor of a Muslim magazine, writes that honor killings which arise in Western cultures such as Britain are a tactic for immigrant families to cope with the alienating consequences of urbanization. Alam argues that immigrants remain close to the home culture and their relatives because it provides a safety net. She writes that, “In villages “back home”, a man’s sphere of control was broader, with a large support system. In our cities full of strangers, there is virtually no control over who one’s family members sit, talk or work with.” Alam argues that it is thus the attempt to regain control and the feelings of alienation that ultimately leads to an honor killing.
Specific triggers of honor killings-
Refusal of an arranged marriage
Main article: Forced marriage
Refusal of an arranged marriage is often a cause of an honor killing. The family which has prearranged the marriage risks disgrace if the marriage does not proceed.
Seeking a divorce
A woman attempting to obtain a divorce or separation without the consent of the husband/extended family can also be a trigger for honor killings. In cultures where marriages are arranged and goods are often exchanged between families, a woman’s desire to seek a divorce is often viewed as an insult to the men who negotiated the deal. By making their marital problems known outside the family, the women are seen as exposing the family to public dishonor.
Allegations and rumors about a family member
In certain cultures, an allegation against a woman can be enough to tarnish her family’s reputation, and to trigger an honor killing: the family’s fear of being ostracized by the community is enormous.
Victims of rape
Main article: Victim blaming
In many cultures, victims of rape face severe violence, including honor killings, from their families and relatives. In many parts of the world, women who have been raped are considered to have brought ‘dishonor’ or ‘disgrace’ to their families. This is especially the case if the victim becomes pregnant.
Central to the code of honor, in many societies, is a woman’s virginity, which must be preserved until marriage.Suzanne Ruggi writes, “A woman’s virginity is the property of the men around her, first her father, later a gift for her husband; a virtual dowry as she graduates to marriage.”
Further information: Violence against LGBT people
There is evidence that homosexuality can also be perceived as grounds for honor killing by relatives. It is not only same-sex sexual acts that trigger violence – behaviors that are regarded as inappropriate gender expression (e.g. a male acting or dressing in a “feminine way”) can also raise suspicion and lead to honor violence.
In one case, a gay Jordanian man was shot and wounded by his brother. In another case, in 2008, a homosexual Turkish-Kurdish student, Ahmet Yildiz, was shot outside a cafe and later died in the hospital. Sociologists have called this Turkey’s first publicized gay honor killing.In 2012, a 17-year-old gay youth was murdered by his father in Turkey in the southeastern province of Diyarbakır.
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees state that “claims made by LGBT persons often reveal exposure to physical and sexual violence, extended periods of detention, medical abuse, threat of execution and honour killing.