Honor Killings

Analogy and introduction

According to Hayward (2002), from her interview with a Pakistani Plastic Surgeon,

Often a girl is lit with trash and burned or kerosene is thrown

On a young teenage girl and is locked up in a room to burn.

The girl cannot go home to her parents or has no home to go to.

They are burned or their noses are chopped off without fearing

the consequences because there are no consequences (p.12).

According to the Oxford dictionary, honor killing is an act taking away a relative’s life and in most cases the female gender of the family. This particular victim is more often than not perceived to have brought about dishonor to the family. The perpetrators of such acts are normal men and in cases where a man is involved, he is required to pay a certain amount of fine or flee. This unfortunately does not apply to women. This normally occurs in the Middle East and in some southeast Asian countries including Pakistan and Bangladesh.

Growth – Dowey (2008), explains that honor killing has been ignored to the extent where police who are meant to help implement the law have failed in doing so. For instance in the case of a young Kurdish Muslim woman, Banaz Mahamod, who got killed by her uncle and father despite having asked the police help. Surely, at what point is a woman considered to have dishonored her family? Well, to these cultures, once a woman gets into illicit sexual relationships, marry men of their own preference, or divorce abusive husbands they have brought disrespect to the family and the only way to deal with them is to kill them (Sweetman,2001.p.217).

How rampant is the honor killing?

It is however clear that the code of silence has been broken after decades of ignorance and torture of the female gender. It was crucial that something needs to be done given the anguish that millions of women have to go through across the world. For instance, women’s life expectancy in South Asia is the least in comparison to that of men is not only one country but several of them. This differs from the statistics of other nations where women’s life expectancy is much higher than that of men (Hayward, 2000, p.12). In addition to this, there is publicized data that more women have and still die from burns, injury as well as suicide in Bangladesh more than ever before (Hayward, 2000, p.13).In Jordan, with reference to government figures, at least twenty five honor killings take place annually. Taking into consideration that this is a nation with approximately four million people it makes about 6.25 honor killings per every million. While in Yemen, 400 honor killings were reported in 1997 in a population of about 16 million people (Hayward, 2000, p. 55).

What needs to be done?

Eradication of honor killings in these particular communities and the world over will be difficult and complicated since it may entail dealing with some of the deeply- entrenched values and beliefs within a community. Nevertheless, something practical has to be done because it is not only unfair but it is also an abuse of human rights. There should be the support of and creation of more female activist groups. Apparently, there have been some men in these countries who do not believe in gender discrimination. They, therefore, uphold women’s rights from the lowest level which is their family (Hayward, 2000, p. 210). Then they move to the next level, the community, and finally to the state. These phenomenal men include Kiran Tewani from Nepal India and Rani Padamree from Bangladesh. According to Kiran, attitude is the basis of violence against the female gender in South Asia.

There is also the urgent need to empower women in these areas economically. This may not be easy as men perceive that they might lose their status in not only the family but in the community as well. Women should be allowed to form self-help groups through which they can save as well as get loans to better their livelihoods. Women should also be given equal opportunity to fight for the top positions in companies. Having women leaders in the company may lead to the employment of more women hence improving their livelihoods. In addition to this, there should be broad and strategic alliances especially between the different interest groups as well as other nonstate actors (Plumemer & Macionis, 2002, p 2). For instance Lawyers, medical professionals and counselors can play a big role in reducing and eventually eradicating gender-based violence especially honor killings (Sweetman,2001, p.301).

It is through these coalitions, be it women organizations or any other form of togetherness that our voice can be heard. There have been women courts and Tribunals established in various parts of the world as a result of feminist organization. An example being the “Women’s International War Crimes Tribunal” set up in Tokyo meant to focus on Japan’s Military Sexual Slavery. Finally, we as owners of NGOs should focus on activities that can really bear us fruit by doing away with honor killings as a form of gender-based violence.


Growther-Dowey,C. & Silvestri, M.(2008). Gender & Crime. London: Sage Publications Ltd.

Hayward, F.R. (2000). Breaking the earthware jar: Lessons from South Asia to End violence against women and girls. Nepal: Jagadamba press.

Plumemer, K. & Macionis,J.(2002). Sociology: A global introduction. Italy: Rotolito Lombarda.

Sweetman,C., Williams,S. & Pickup, F. (2001). Ending violence against women: A challenge for development and humanitarian work. London: Oxfam publishing.

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