Did you know according to United Nation, every year 5000 women are murdered in the name of honor killing?(Amnesty International).According to Human Rights Watch, “Honor killings are acts of vengeance, usually death, committed by male family members against female family members, in response to a belief that the women have offended a family’s honor and have brought shame to the family unit”(Tarun, n.d.). The perpetrators are considered honorable, when they commit this heinous act. Honor killing has consistently been occurring in the Middle East, and South Asia. It first originated from ancient Arab culture that has its roots in Pakistan (Dailey & Singh, 2016). Major causes behind honor killing are patriarchal social views, unacceptance of marriage and misinterpretation of religion.
Firstly, in the patriarchal society women are subjugated under male violence, which plays a major role to trigger honor killing. “Patriarchy means a social system in which men hold primary power and predominate in roles of political leadership, moral authority, social privilege and control of property” (IGI Global, n.d.). The word honor is linked to women’s bodies. For example, a model in Pakistan Quandeel Baloch was killed by her brother for posting provocative video on social because she was considered to bring shame on the family (BBC Stories, 2017). Quandeel’s example proves that, women are considered as an object and men hold the responsibility of maintaining female’s virginity and moral authority. Therefore, women’s voice to their desires is unacceptable to their father, husband and brother which leads to honor killing.
Secondly, woman’s choosing a life partner against family’s will is another cause of honor killing. Typically, the head of the family fixes the marriage for daughters and female members. Dating or marrying someone outside the caste or religion against family’s will, refusal of marriage or getting involved into homosexual relationships are regarded as cultural taboo. One example is two Texas teenagers Amina Said and Sarah Said, who were killed by their father for dating against their family’s approval. They were believed to stain the honor of the family by disobeying the orthodox norms (Real Story, 2018). Thus, marriage without family’s consent has been a for honor killing.
Finally, religion is used as a ground to justify honor killing. If a woman has an extramarital affair or engages in premarital sex, she is considered to disrespect the religion and is punished to death. For example, the remarkable case of Soraya M., an innocent girl in Iran who was falsely accused of adultery by her husband, was stoned to death by the family members and community by following an interpretation of the Sharia (Khaitan, 2017). However, there is no mention in the Quran about honor killing. According to Islam, punished of adultery is lethal stoning if it is witnessed by 4 good character male Muslims (Muhammad, 2010). Hence, misinterpretation of religion plays an important role in honor killing.
In conclusion, the dominance of patriarchal society, disapproval in marriage and misconception of religion are the prominent causes of honor killing. In the patriarchal society, if women challenge the societal norms, they are punished to death. Moreover, marriage of women against family’s decision is considered as family’s dishonor. Furthermore, religion is used to defend honor killing especially in Muslim countries. A suggestion to this problem could be, stricter law implementation. Another suggestion could be raising social awareness among men and women alike. Also, women education is needed to understand their rights.
- AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL. (n.d.). The horror of ‘HONOR KILLINGS’, even in US. https://www.amnestyusa.org/the-horror-of-honor-killings-even-in-us/
- BBC Stories. (2017,July 14). Qandeel Baloch murder: One year on (full documentary) [Video file]. https://youtu.be/ptVjXHgsal4
- Dailey , D., & Singh ,R.N. (2016, August 3). Honor killing. Encyclopedia Britannica. https://www.britannica.com/topic/honor-killing
- IGI Global. (n.d.). Patriarchy. In IGI-Global.com dictionary. Retrieved from January 13, 2019, from https://www.igi-global.com/dictionary/identifiable-challenges-as-global-complexities/52625
- Khaitan , S. (2017, April 25). The stoning of Soraya M 2008 720p [Video file]. Youtube. https://youtu.be/66pGaMGHBFM
- Muhammad , A.A. (2010, June). Preliminary examination of so-called ‘Honour Killings’ in Canada. Canada.ca. https://www.justice.gc.ca/eng/rp-pr/cj-jp/fv-vf/hk-ch/p3.html
- Real Stories. (2018, March 18). Why did a Texas dad kill his two teenage daughters? (Honor Killing Documentary) [Video file]. Youtube. https://youtu.be/1EUfxrtFGzA
- Tarun, C. (n.d.). Impact of honor killing in the society of India. Legal Service India. http://www.legalserviceindia.com/legal/article-397-impact-of-honour-killings-in-the-society-of-india.html