What are honour killings?
Honour killings in theory are vicious acts in which a person usually a woman is murdered for ‘bringing shame’ upon their families. It is particularly vile for the fact that they are enacted for the sole purpose of maintaining a man’s dominance in the household.
What constitutes an honour killing?
There are various things which can spark an honour killing, these include,
Marital partner, the way they dress, general conformity to the culture they are expected to respect, sexuality, behaviour with the opposite sex and education and employment.
In essence, they are killed for not fitting someone else’s view of what they should be like, this is an extreme case of what is called ‘Honour based violence’ or HBV for short, it is generally found in Islam of which they are under a strict code of conduct of what they can or cannot do. Linking to this, there is still a strong case of a divide between masculine muslims and feminine Muslims, thus for a woman to do something that is considered ‘masculine’ would be considered unnatural and would in some cases constitute an honour killing.
What is wrong on so many levels is that just because the family of the victim is displeased with their marriage choice or their ‘unbecoming behaviour’ then they would be murdered, it is outrageous.
It is thought that ‘honour killings’ originated from the tribal custom of punishing females that had brought ‘disgrace’ to their families. One thing that is striking is that there is little scriptural evidence to support these honour killings, and the families that do it are acting not of the religious texts they follow but rather what they see as an idealised form of their religion, even when what they do contravenes against major elements of their core texts.
Honour killings in the UK
As is highly documented and discussed, their is a large multicultural element to British society a ‘melting pot’ of religions and customs, and though no doubt there has been honour killings in the past, they only recently started to get reported. In 2009, 211 cases of crime ‘motivated by honour’ had been reported, 129 of these were criminal offenses.
There is little doubt that these acts are seen as barbaric and savage and rightly so, it is interesting to see as the typical male dominated household prevails in Muslim households, it does not in non Muslim households. Many parents would ask the question ‘how could they kill their own daughter/son? it is quite truly a horrendous crime, but one must realise that the parents of the daughter/son would have been ‘shamed’ in their local community and would be socially excluded from the community, in a tightly knit community ties mean everything.
Also, though indeed women continue to be the main victims of ‘honour killings’ one must understand that while there is a gender imbalance of who get’s subjected to these crimes, about 15% of the total victims of ‘honour based crime’ were men and young boys, and linking to that 25% of the total victims of honour based crime were under the age of eighteen.
There are currently on average, 5,000 honour killings per year globally. 1/5 (1000) occur in Pakistan alone, There are a further 1,000 honour killings in India and 12 reported honour killings in the UK. This must stop, in a civilised society, it has no place.
I leave you with this quote from MADRE an international women’s human rights organization that uses human rights to advance social justice.
"the purpose of honor crimes is to maintain men’s power by denying women basic rights to make autonomous decisions about marriage, divorce and sexuality"
What do you think about this barbaric practice?