Honor Related Violence
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|Afghanistan • Australia • Belgium • Canada • Denmark • Egypt • Finland • France • Germany • India • Iran • Iraq • Israel • Italy • Jordan • Kuwait • Lebanon • Libya • Norway • Pakistan • Palestinian Authority area • Russia • Saudi Arabia • Somalia • Spain • Sri Lanka • Sudan • Sweden • Switzerland • Syria • Turkey • United Arab Emirates • United Kingdom • United States • Yemen|
This article discusses honor-related violence and how it is viewed in the Muslim world.
- 1 Definition
- 2 Statistics on Honor Related Violence and Killings
- 3 Differing Characteristics of Honor Violence and Domestic Violence
- 4 Honor Killings in Muslim Majority Nations
- 5 Honor Killings in Non-Muslim Nations
- 6 Islamic Penal Codes
- 7 Acid Throwing and Honor Suicides
- 8 See Also
- 9 External Links
- 10 References
Honor-related violence is physical violence that is inflicted on an individual by perpetrators who believe the victim has brought dishonour upon the family, clan, or community by engaging in any conduct that is perceived as immoral or unacceptable by religious or social/cultural standards. This violence almost always happens in Muslim families.
Statistics on Honor Related Violence and Killings
- Main Article: Muslim Statistics (Honor Violence)
Statistics on honor related violence and honor killing are difficult to obtain and are inaccurate due to the under-reporting of such incidents from victims and family members. The statistics provided below are based on available data:
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The [Association of Legal Aid for Women] report indicated that causes of [domestic] violence were honor crimes (42 percent), leaving the house without the husband’s approval (7.5 percent), wives asking for divorce (3 percent).
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One problem is that the police do not keep statistics on honour violence... However, police believe that only a small fraction, probably less that 5% of all honour violence incidents come to light. The seriousness of the phenomenon is not understood, even by the officials dealing with it.
The reason for the control is the fact that the Muslim family honour is equated with the virginity of their daughters.
The number of honour killings in Pakistan are estimated to be around 2,500 to 3,000 cases every year. However, the report states that a good number of such cases still go unreported or are passed off as suicides and only 25% of these are brought to justice.According to the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), 260 women and 168 men have already been killed in the first eight months of 2008. Honour killings are treated as murder under Pakistan's penal code; however, the relevant law states that the family of the victim is allowed to compromise with the killer who is a close relative in most of the cases. Provisions of the Pakistani law also allow the next of kin of the victim to forgive the murderer in exchange for money. And most of the offenders continue to use this clause to escape punishment.
The report, based on news clippings from twenty-six newspapers of Urdu, English and Sindh languages, says that despite the enactment of a law to curb violence against women, cases of karo kari or honour killing are still going on unabated.
The report says that the data does not necessarily presents the real picture. According to an estimate, only 10 percent cases of honour killing are reported in the media.
The report says that more than 473 incidents of honour killing were reported from Sindh, 337 from Punjab, 129 from Balochistan and 76 from NWFP during 2005. Those killed included 563 married women, 75 unmarried women, 373 men and six children.
In 380 such cases the perpetrators were never nabbed. In most of the cases, the killers were close relatives of the victims. The report says that 146 married women were killed by real brothers, 240 by husbands, 60 by in laws, 11 by real sisters, two by stepsons, one by stepbrother, one by former husband, one by mother and 71 by other relatives. Whereas newspaper reports about unmarried women show that fathers were the perpetrators in 49 cases, paternal uncles in 33 cases, real brothers in 16 cases and real sister in one case.
Total 618 of the victims were killed on the charge of indulging in zina and 337 for allegedly maintaining illicit relations.The report said that when attacked, 901 of the victims died on the spot while 5 received serious injuries. 91 of the victims sustained murderous attack. According to the report, in 17 cases victims were found dead but it could not be ascertained how they were killed.
Palestinian Authority Area:
As can be seen, honor related violence and honor killing is a common occurrence in the countries mentioned above and the numbers keep on growing.
Differing Characteristics of Honor Violence and Domestic Violence
Phyllis Chesler lists the specific differences between honor violence and domestic violence as follows:
|Honor Killings||Domestic Violence|
|Committed mainly by Muslims against Muslim girls/young adult women.||Committed by men of all faiths usually against adult women.|
|Committed mainly by fathers against their teenage daughtersand daughters in their early twenties. Wives and older-age daughters may also be victims, but to a lesser extent.||Committed by an adult male spouse against an adult female spouse or intimate partner.|
|Carefully planned. Death threats are often used as a means of control.||The murder is often unplanned and spontaneous.|
|The planning and execution involve multiple family members and can include mothers, sisters, brothers, male cousins, uncles, grandfathers, etc. If the girl escapes, the extended family will continue to search for her to kill her.||The murder is carried out by one man with no family complicity.|
|The reason given for the honor killing is that the girl or young woman has “dishonored” the family.||The batterer-murderer does not claim any family concept of “honor.” The reasons may range from a poorly cooked meal to suspected infidelity to the woman’s trying to protect the children from his abuse or turning to the authorities for help.|
|At least half the time, the killings are carried out with barbaric ferocity. The female victim is often raped, burned alive, stoned or beaten to death, cut at the throat, decapitated, stabbed numerous times, suffocated slowly, etc.||While some men do beat a spouse to death, they often simply shoot or stab them.|
|The extended family and community valorize the honor killing. They do not condemn the perpetrators in the name of Islam. Mainly, honor killings are seen as normative.||The batterer-murderer is seen as a criminal; no one defends him as a hero. Such men are often viewed as sociopaths, mentally ill, or evil.|
|The murderer(s) do not show remorse. Instead, they experience themselves as “victims,” defending themselves from the girl’s actions and trying to restore their lost family honor.||Sometimes, remorse or regret is exhibited.|
Honor Killings in Muslim Majority Nations
In Muslim countries women are killed for many "honor" related reasons, including being raped, associating with non-related males, getting pregnant outside of marriage, and for the belief they might have done something else immoral. In the eyes of her family this is a capital crime which demands her death in order to restore the family's honor. The entire family may all collaborate on this, and in some cases the whole community may participate and even celebrate the occasion.
In Europe or America, someone might kill his wife because he suspected she was having an affair with a neighbor, for example. He might kill her, but he will stand trial as a murderer, and he will go to jail. He will not receive a legal certificate of good character, saying that he was 'defending his honor.'The problem with us is that we give a certificate of good character for this, that we say to him: 'Off you go. You can enjoy your life, because you killed your wife, your daughter, or your sister.' This is the fundamental difference
Director of the Syrian Women Observatory
The significance of honor among Muslims is strict and complex. In the Muslim world, most families follow a collectivist identity. families take pride in the accomplishments of individual members and feel shame if one of them does something dishonorable. The family plays a role in every aspect of the Muslim world. A person has to consider the immediate and extended family, even the neighbors, before they act upon what they want to do. They have to take into consideration how they will react.
Most of the Muslim world is built upon a patriarchal society where the men are the leaders of the family and women are to be obedient. Men hold all of the power in the marriage. They are allowed to have up to four wives and divorce them anytime they want to. The process for a divorce is much more difficult for a woman to obtain without her husband's permission and Muslim law favors the rights of the husband in terms of child custody over the rights of the woman.
A woman's activities are carefully monitored by her family. Her virginity is considered their responsibility and she is dominated by men her entire life, beginning with her father, then husband, and finally her sons.When a woman's chastity is questioned, her family feels the shame. As a result of her shame, the family is compromised.
Honor killing is a subject which is not discussed within the Qur'an or Hadith collections. However, Islam (as most Muslims will proudly testify) differs from other religions by being a complete system which governs even the most mundane aspects of ones life. Islamic Law consists of Shari'ah (Qur'an and Sunnah), and Fiqh, which is a complementary expansion of Sharia. Therefore, Muslim scholars have not failed to address this issue. According to the the highly regarded book of Fiqh, "Reliance of the Traveller: A Classic Manual of Islamic Sacred Law", which has been approved by Al-Azhar University (the most respected Islamic authority in the world), no retaliation is permitted against a father or mother "for killing their offspring, or offspring's offspring".
In Pakistan a woman's activities are monitored by the tribe and cases of dishonor are brought to the Jirga court. The Jirga is a tribal assembly of elders. They make decisions by a consensus. They are similar to a town meeting in the Unites States and or to a regional assembly in England, where important regional matters are addressed among the people of the area.
The Jirga is also used to make decisions in cases of criminal conduct and it holds the prestige of a court in tribal areas of Pakistan. The Jirga can award capital punishment, stoning to death in cases of adultery, or expulsion of the community. They can also declare a person as an adulterer who has dishonored their family or the tribe and give death sentences in such cases.
Honour killings are known locally as karo-kari. Karo-kari literally means "black male" (karo) and "black female" (kari). This is a metaphoric term for adulterer and adulteress. Once labeled as a Kari (which can be done by the family or Jirga court), male family members get the justification to kill the woman and the accused karo to restore family honor, although in the majority of cases the victim is female.
Karo-kari can be defined as acts of murder, which a woman is killed for actual or perceived immoral behavior. Such "immoral behavior" may take the form of alleged marital infidelity, refusal to submit to an arranged marriage, demanding a divorce, perceived flirtatious behavior, rape, be seen with an unrelated male, and marry someone of their own choice. Suspicions and accusations alone are enough to defile a family's honor and declare the woman as kari.
In practice, these types of killings are not limited to humans, but can also apply to animals. For example, in July 2011, a male who was caught having sex with another man's donkey was fined 110,000 rupees This fine was not imposed for having sex with an animal, but for committing adultery. The raped donkey was labelled a 'kari' (an adultress) and eventually honor killed by its owner.
Honor Killings in Non-Muslim Nations
Honor Killing is a major problem in Muslim countries which flourishes due to the "honor" orientated Islamic culture. This culture is also becoming more evident in non-Muslim societies.
Cinnamon Stillwell, The San Fransisco Chronicles, January 23, 2008
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Almost all victims of the most extreme crimes are women, killed in half of cases by their own husbands. Sometimes murders are carried out by other male relatives, or even hired killers. The fear that many thousands are left to endure honour violence alone may be supported by the disturbing details of the incidence of suicide within the British Asian community. Women aged 16 to 24 from Pakistani, Indian and Bangladeshi backgrounds are three times more likely to kill themselves than the national average for women of their age.
The Independent, February 10, 2008
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Figures released by the Metropolitan Police show that in London alone there have been 129 honour-based crimes between April and October this year, compared with 132 in the whole of 2008/09, which in turn was double the number of the previous year. The Home Office has estimated that there are an average of 12 honour killings each year in England and Wales.
But Diana Nammi, director of the Iranian and Kurdish Women’s Rights Organisation, described the official figures as “the tip of the iceberg” and suggested there are more than 500 honour crimes each year nationwide.
She said: “It’s not just the detection of honour crimes which is increasing, but the number of crimes which are committed. The rise of fundamentalism is the reason these crimes are increasing. The Government has also been turning a blind eye to the problem, which only makes things worse.“We need to change the mindset of the communities where these crimes are happening - mainly people from South Asia, the Middle East and Muslim communities - and hopefully the religious leaders will think about how we can stop this.”
Gordon Rayner and John Bingham, The Telegraph, December 18, 2009
According to figures obtained by the Iranian and Kurdish Women's Rights Organisation (Ikwro), at least 2,823 incidents of 'honour-based' violence took place, with the highest number recorded in London.
The charity said the statistics fail to provide the full picture of the levels of 'honour' violence in the UK , but are the best national estimate so far.
The data, taken from from 39 out of 52 UK forces, was released following a freedom of information request by Ikwro.
In total, eight police forces recorded more than 100 so called honour-related attacks in 2010.
The Metropolitan Police saw 495 incidents, with 378 reported in the West Midlands, 350 in West Yorkshire, 227 in Lancashire and 189 in Greater Manchester.
Cleveland recorded 153, while Suffolk and Bedfordshire saw 118 and 117 respectively, according to the figures.
Between the 12 forces able to provide figures from 2009, there was an overall 47 per cent rise in honour attack incidents.
Police in Northumbria saw a 305 per cent increase from 17 incidents in 2009 to 69 in 2010, while Cambridgeshire saw a 154 per cent jump from 11 to 28. A quarter of police forces in the UK were unable or unwilling to provide data, Ikwro said.
The report stated: This is the first time that a national estimate has been provided in relation to reporting of honour-based violence.
'Honour' attacks are punishments usually carried out against Muslim women who have been accused of bringing shame on their family and in the past have included abductions, mutilations, beatings and murder.
Ikwro director Diana Nammi told the BBC that families often deny the existence of the attacks.She said: The perpetrators will be even considered as a hero within the community because he is the one defending the family and community's honour and reputation.'
Mail Online, December 3, 2011
Violence and repression are regular occurrences for a large section of 16-year-old school goers in the city centre and suburbs, according to a study commissioned by local politicians.
Ulf Kristersson (Mod), Commissioner of Social Services, is one of a number of politicians surprised and outraged by the findings.
"It's not permitted for adults, not even parents, to prevent children from living full, independent lives," he told Sveriges Television.
The results come from a survey of a cross section of more than 2,000 pupils.
Almost a quarter of female respondents, 23 percent, said they were expected to retain their virginity until marriage and were not allowed to have a boyfriend. Sixteen percent of girls were not allowed to have male friends or decide whom they would marry.
Seven percent of girls and three percent of boys said they were exposed to serious violations in the form of threats and violence.
And ten percent of girls and four percent of boys said their lives were limited to the extent that they could not live in the same way as other people their own age.The majority of teenagers who matched the honour culture profile have parents born outside Sweden.
The Local, April 14, 2009
If a Muslim women refuses to wear the traditional female Muslim clothing, wears makeup, wants to choose her own husband or leaves a husband, wants to live on her own or has an affair, her family may take offense at her desires and in their eyes she has dishonored the family.
Islamic Penal Codes
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A law introduced in October 2004, which laid down tougher penalties for such murders, has had no visible effect in reducing the number of such crimes.“We have noted no significant decrease in the number of such killings since the law was enforced in early 2005. As we have stated previously, until the issue of compoundability, which makes it possible for blood money to be paid to compensate for physical hurt, is addressed, there is unlikely to be any real change in the situation,” the rights commission’s director IA Rehman told IRIN.
Palestinian Authority Area:
Repeating the situation encountered three years earlier, in 2003 the Jordanian Parliament twice voted on Islamic grounds to reject an amended Penal Code law designed to stiffen penalties for honor killings. Al-Jazeera reported that "Islamists and conservatives said the laws violated religious traditions and would destroy families and values."
Turkey, who wants to join the European Union, has been warned by the EU that it is closely monitoring it's progress on women's rights and failure to make progress could impede it's chances of entering the Union. This has led Turkey to tighten its punishment for "honor crimes".
In the past two years, changes have been made to Turkey's penal code which now imposes life sentences for murders in the name of honor, regardless of whether they are committed by a minor or not. Before these changes were made, very often a younger brother under the age of 18 was chosen to carry out the murder and due to his youth he would receive only a short sentence. Sentences were also reduced under the defense that the relative had been provoked to commit murder. But rather than these changes in the legal code putting a stop to such deaths, families are taking other steps and women's lives are ended by a different means.
Acid Throwing and Honor Suicides
Acid throwing burns, damages skin tissue, exposes and often dissolves bones, and blinds the victim, leaving permanent scaring. These attacks are common in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Pakistan, and other Asian countries. 80% of these victims are women.
In South Asia, acid throwing attacks have been used as a form of revenge for refusal of sexual advances, proposals for marriage and demands for dowry. Land disputes are another leading cause. In Bangladesh they are mostly another form of domestic violence. In Pakistan these attacks are typically the work of men against their wives for dishonoring them.
In Turkey there is the growing issue of honor suicide. Honor suicide is a process where a Muslim woman commits suicide to escape the shame of having been raped or having an extra-marital affair, thereby violating the namoose of her family. There are document cases of the family pressuring the woman to kill herself in order to spare their sons from the harsh punishments associated with killing their sisters.
Women's groups say that a growing number of "dishonored" girls are being locked in a room for days with rat poison, a pistol or a rope, and told by their families the only thing resting between their disgrace and redemption is death. This practice is also known as forced suicide.
Human rights groups state the recent trend of forced suicides is an unintended and sinister consequence of the EU's pressure on Turkey to stiffen it's punishments against honor killings.
- Honor Violence - A hub page that leads to other articles related to Honor Violence
- Honor Killing is about Islam - Ali Sina, Faith Freedom International, February 9, 2010
- An Example in the Koran of a Holy Man of Allah that comes close to Justifying Honor Killings: The Case of Moses and Al-Khidr (the Green Man)
- Robert Fisk - The crimewave that shames the world - The Independent, September 7, 2010
- Phyllis Chesler - Worldwide Trends in Honor Killings - Middle East Quarterly, Spring 2010, pp. 3-11
- Manar Ammar - Two honor killings hit Egypt’s Alexandria - Bikya Masr, February 26, 2012
- "Honour Violence" - A Threat To Immigrant Women - YLE, October 19, 2009
- Thousands of girls reportedly being subjected to honour-related violence in Finland - Helsingen Sanomat, February 28, 2011
- Dr Talal Alrubaie - Honor Killing and Deficient Men - Center For Women's Equality, December 11, 2008
- Patrick Cockburn - How picture phones have fuelled frenzy of honour killing in Iraq - The Independant, May 17, 2008
- 27 Kurdish women die in ‘honour killings’ - Dawn, November 27, 2007
- Soran Bahadin - Blame on Clerics for Prevalence of Honor Killing in Iraqi Kurdistan - Kurd Net, October 9, 2010
- Diana Y Vitoshka - The Modern Face of Honor Killing: Factors, Legal Issues, and Policy Recommendations - University of California, 2010
- Diaa Hadid - `Honor' killings norm for one clan - Associated Press, July 8, 2007
- Elham Hassan - Women victims of honor killing - Yemen Observer, Jan 28, 2006 - Vol. IX Issue 03
- WE News correspondent, Jamal J. Halaby - Jordan Honour Killings of Women - Dhushara, November 14, 2000
- Lisa Beyer - The Price of Honor - TIME, January 18, 1999
- 'Honour' killing: It's a global phenomenon - The Times of India, July 11, 2010
- Amir Mir - 428 killed in the name of honour - Daily News & Analysis, September 3, 2008
- Honour killing claimed 1,015 lives in 2005 - The Daily Times, April 28, 2006
- Saad Jarous - Syria Increases Penalty for Honour Killings - Asharq Alawsat, August 7, 2009
- PRESS DIGEST - Turkey - Oct 27 - Reuters, October 27, 2006
- Christoph Schlingensief - Türkische Studenten halten Ehrenmorde für legitim - Welt Online, October 27, 2006
- Phyllis Chesler - Are Honor Killings Simply Domestic Violence? - Middle East Quarterly, Spring 2009, pp. 61-6
- "Retaliation is obligatory ... against anyone who kills a human being purely intentionally and without right..." However, o1.2 clarifies that "The following are not subject to retaliation" and then lists — after the "Muslim for killing a non-Muslim" and "Jewish or Christian subject ... for killing an apostate" — "(4) a father or mother (or their fathers or mothers) for killing their offspring, or offspring's offspring"..." - Reliance of the Traveller: A Classic Manual of Islamic Sacred Law, "Who is Subject to Retaliation for Injurious Crimes," section o1.1
- Donkey declared ‘Kari’ killed - The News International, July 19, 2011
- Iran - Honor killing claims life of 17-year-old girl - Stop Fundamentalism, May 24, 2008
- PAKISTAN: Honour killings continue, despite law
IRIN, March 8, 2007
- Adrian Morgan - Mutilation And Killing For Muslim "Honor": Religious Or Tribal Custom? - The Family Security Foundation, Inc., June 26, 2007
- Haleem Asad - TIMERGARAH: Jirga bans registration of honour crime cases - DawnNews, April 15, 2006
- Zahid Jan - Jirga to kill anyone reporting honour killing cases to police - Daily Times, April 29, 2006
- Jordan quashes 'honour crimes' law - Al-Jazeera, September 7, 2003