Honor Killings

By: Claire Doyle S4

What are Honor Killings?

The killing of a relative, especially a female, who is perceived to have brought shame or dishonor to the family. These are typically for religious and moral reasons.

"I am proud of what I did. No, I don't regret what I did. Even if the government hangs me. I wouldn't care. I did this for my honor."

What Are Some Reasons People Commit Honor Killings?


-Marrying without permission

-Dressing inappropriately

-Desire to marry by own choice

-Rejection of marriage proposal

-Homosexual acts



-Young adults and adolescents

-Violently enforcing beliefs and morals



-Don't understand severity of actions

"There is no honour in violence." -Kurdish Womens' Action Against Honour Killings

What is Honor-Based Voilence?

"Honour-based violence is a phenomenon where a person (most often a woman) is subjected to violence by her collective family or community in order to restore ‘honour’, presumed to have been lost by her behaviour, most often through expressions of sexual autonomy." - http://hbv-awareness.com/faq/#one

In the Middle East and North Africa Region

Primarily in Arab countries, the statistics show that an estimated 1,000 honor killings occur in Pakistan every year, and 1,000 in India. (These are the most likely countries to find this cruel act being practiced in.) There are also about 12 in the UK, and approximately 5,000 internationally on a yearly basis.

"With the exception of Iran, laws which allow for ‘honour’ killing are not derived from Islamic precepts, but from the penal codes of the Napoleonic Empire which legislated for crimes of ‘passion.’ Such laws have come under sustained opposition from women’s rights activists leading to some reforms: the Kurdistan Region of Iraq removed the provision for lighter sentencing for killers with ‘honourable’ motives in 2002 – although it remains in force in the rest of Iraq; Syria has recently increased the minimum sentence for an ‘honour’ killer from one year to two; and Palestine has recently removed the provision which it inherited from Jordanian law in the face of a particularly gruesome high-profile murder. However, such changes have limited applicability where these are not followed through by the criminal justice system, which may still tend to overlook murders and excuse their perpetrators. The availability of reduced sentencing causes murders which had financial or other motives to be represented as related to ‘honour’ so that the perpetrators of unrelated crimes can benefit from the reduced sentencing applied to ‘honour’." - http://hbv-awareness.com/regions/

Themes Seen Associated with this Topic

Region: Since religious beliefs are more often incorporated in the laws and government in this particular region of the world than anywhere else, it is evident that the judicial concerns are quite different and have a very different understanding of this sort of issue than the rest of the world does.

Human-Environment Interaction: In Pakistan, there are a lot of groups that were established with the purpose of speaking out against this vicious act of hate, and they interact with the other groups and mosques around the country for support. They are looking to change the laws and incorporate a negative connotation with the phrase "honor killings" and explain why the phrase itself is an oxymoron.


The public's unpopular opinion in Pakistan is that it's logically wrong to commit these acts, but the popular opinion is that these acts are unfortunately condemned because of moral reasons that are associated with the goals and restrictions of Islam.

My personal opinion is that nothing like this should ever occur and the people who do this are too enveloped in the idea of being perfect and maintaining a social status that it's almost pathetic. Wanting to marry whoever you want isn't immoral, what's immoral is killing people over that.

So What Do We Do?

I think the international community has its own moral obligation to do whatever they can to influence the changing of laws in places where this is prominent, as well as take action by doing everything they can to ensure the preventing of this horrific act so that it rarely happens anywhere. This can happen by raising awareness and working towards the goals of the groups who wish to end this once and for all.
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