FAROUQ UMAR IDRIS
17TH JULY 2013
I will like to express our special thanks of gratitude to our teacher MANSI HANDA as well as our
DEAN DR PARUL MALIK who gave us the golden opportunity to do this wonderful project on the
topic “ HONOR KILLINGS” which also helped us in doing a lot of Research and we came to know
about so many new things. We are really thankful to them.
1.2 GLOBAL PROBLEM
1.3 REASON BEHIND HONOR KILLING
1.4 CULTURAL DEFENCES
1.5 THE PROBLEM IN INDIA
1.6 WHERE THE PROBLEM LIES
1.7 RISING HONOR KILLINGS IN INDIA
This study focuses on people’s perception on honour crimes and whether it is encouraged by
Islam or cultural beliefs, it has been suggested that a large proportion of honour crime victims are
mainly women. The violence towards these people differentiates from culture to culture. It has been
argued that more Muslims countries comply with honour crimes then western countries. To
investigate these issues in depth a qualitative research strategy was adopted, and semi structured
interviews was conducted. A total of eight interviews were conducted of which three were males
and five where females, the sample was randomly selected according to who was available at the
time to give the interview. From the primary and secondary research that was conducted it was clear
that honour crimes was motivated by cultural beliefs, however there is not one clear universal
definition to honour crimes, and people perception varied according to time and culture.
It was found that honour crimes falls under the category of domestic violence within the
UK. The concept of honour crime has just recently been highlighted, and more people are aware of
it, a new task force has been assigned to tackle this crime.
The main themes that were extracted from this research consisted of the different perceptions
of honour crimes, and how it varied from the different organisations. It was also acknowledged that
honour crimes was culturally motivated, but mainly took place in rural areas, due to a lack of
education. Even though the phenomenon of honour crimes is predominant in Muslims country not a
single text within the Qur’an, permits this.
An honour killing or honour killing is the homicide of a member of a family or social group by other
members, due to the belief of the perpetrators that the victim has brought dishonour upon the
family or community.
The perceived dishonour is normally the result of one of the following behaviours, or the suspicion
of such behaviours: dressing in a manner unacceptable to the family or community, wanting to
terminate or prevent an arranged marriage or desiring to marry by own choice, especially if to a
member of a social group deemed inappropriate, engaging in heterosexual acts outside marriage
and engaging in homosexual acts. Honour killings have been labelled as a form of gender apartheid.
The United Nations estimate for the number of honour killings in the world is 5000 per year. Many
women's groups in the Middle East and Southwest Asia suspect that more than 20,000 women are
honour killed in the world each year.
"Honour crimes" are extremely frequent in the East and South-East of Turkey. They are
traditional in the whole Mediterranean area as they are in the Near East and extend as far as Asia
and Africa. So what are "honour crimes"? Girls who have lost their virginity must reckon with being
killed by their families. A love affair is just as deadly as rape or sexual abuse, even by a family
member. In such cases, the offender redresses the family honour by killing the person who has been
abused. The woman is under the same threat if she escapes from a marriage with an unloved man or
flees from a marriage arranged by the family, even if she is not involved with another man.
The exact number of honour murders remains unknown, since many crimes are camouflaged as
accidents. In the town of Urfa in Turkey in the last five years alone, the number of known honour
killings is numbered at 26. In Pakistan hundreds of women are injured or killed each year by male
relations as a result of apparently illegitimate sexual relations. The girls, if they have run away, are
tracked down and killed - stabbed, shot or drenched in petrol and set alight, drowned, run over (by
male family members) or poisoned (by their mother or mother in law). Being banished from the
family seldom suffices. Sometimes "dishonoured" girls are remarried quickly. However if the young
woman's "loss of honour" is known of in the new family, she is also threatened with death.
The background: The patriarchal moral makes the honour of the family dependent on the virginity of
the girl or the chastity of the married women. Whether the virginity was lost in free will or as a result
of violence is of no consequence here. If the "dishonour" becomes known to outside persons,
perhaps due to a pregnancy, the death of the woman concerned is the only way of reinstalling the
family honour. The woman affected usually cannot expect any help from members of the family,
since they must and want to maintain the honour of the family. "Dishonouring" the family by a
daughter can also ruin the chances of her sisters getting married.
In South Anatolia, for instance, two thirds of all marriages are still arranged by the family. Important
for the prestige of the family here is bride money. This is too high for many young men and they
must reckon with having to save for years to afford the marriage. The girls are condemned to
marrying older, unloved men which is the reason why many young couples run away to the cities.
REASON BEHIND THE KILLING
The perceived dishonour is normally the result of one of the following behaviours, or the
suspicion of such behaviours:
1.1 Dressing in a manner unacceptable to the family or community,
1.2 Wanting to terminate or prevent an arranged marriage or desiring to marry by own choice,
1.3 Engaging in heterosexual sexual acts outside marriage, or even due to a non-sexual relationship
perceived as inappropriate.
1.4 Engaging in homosexual acts. Women and girls are killed at a much higher rate than men.
Several different evolutionary psychology explanations have been proposed for honour killings.
Honour killings, as well as the related concept of crime of passion due to adultery, have occurred
and have to some degree been seen as justified in many different and separated cultures. This may
be explained that men, unlike women, have difficulty knowing with certainty that they are the
biological parents of the children they spend considerable resources on in a long-term relationship.
Sexual jealousy is argued to have evolved in order to reduce the risk of children not being
biologically related and to be relatively stronger in men. Men may use a variety of strategies,
including physical violence, in order to prevent adultery. Actual killings have been argued to be
maladaptive by-products of this since by killing the woman she cannot contribute further to the
man's reproductive success. However, it has also been argued that the such killings may be adaptive
by being a warning to other wives, restoring lost social status, and preventing complications from
possibly not genetically related children being born. These adaptive explanations have been
criticized for less extreme violence possibly achieving the same thing or involving unlikely complex
calculations. It has also been pointed out that to argue that society must morally accept and be
structured according to what is claimed to be natural, such as by legal exceptions for honour killings
or crimes of passion, is an example of the naturalistic fallacy.
Sharif Kanaana, professor of anthropology at Birzeit University, says that “honour killing is a
complicated issue that cuts deep into the history of Arab society. What the men of the family, clan,
or tribe seek control of in a patrilineal society is reproductive power. Women for the tribe were
considered a factory for making men. The honour killing is not a means to control sexual power or
behaviour. What's behind it is the issue of fertility, or reproductive power.
An Amnesty International statement adds:
The regime of honour is unforgiving: women on whom suspicion has fallen are not given an
opportunity to defend themselves, and family members have no socially acceptable alternative but
to remove the stain on their honour by attacking the woman.
Carolyn Fluehr-Lobban, an anthropology professor at Rhode Island College, explains how honour
killings can be viewed in cultural relativist terms. She writes that the act, or even alleged act, of any
female sexual misconduct, upsets moral order for the culture of interest and bloodshed is the only
way to remove any shame brought about by the actions and restore social equilibrium.
Changing cultural and economic status of women has also been used to explain the occurrences of
honour killings. Women in largely patriarchal cultures who have gained economic independence
from their families go against their male-dominated culture. Some researchers argue that the shift
towards greater responsibility for women and less for their fathers may cause their male family
members to act in oppressive and sometimes violent manners in order to regain authority.
This change of culture can also be seen to have an effect in Western cultures such as Britain where
honour killings often arise from women seeking greater independence and adopting seemingly
Western values. For women who trace their ancestry back to the Middle East or South Asia, wearing
clothes that are considered Western, having a boyfriend, or refusing to accept an arranged marriage
are all offenses that can and have led to an honour killing.
Cultural implications can often be seen in public and private views of honour killings. In some
cultures, honour killings are considered less serious than other murders simply because they arise
from long-standing cultural traditions and are thus deemed appropriate or justifiable. Additionally,
according to a poll done by the BBC’s Asian network, 1 in 10 of the 500 Hindus, Sikhs, Christians and
Muslims surveyed said they would condone any murder of someone who threatened their family’s
The lawyer and human rights activist Hina Jilani says, "The right to life of women in Pakistan is
conditional on their obeying social norms and traditions."
Nighat Taufeeq of the women's resource canter Shirkatgah (Lahore, Pakistan) says: "It is an unholy
alliance that works against women: the killers take pride in what they have done, the tribal leaders
condone the act and protect the killers and the police connive the cover-up."
A July 2008 Turkish study by a team from Dicle University on honour killings in the South-
eastern Anatolia Region, the predominantly Kurdish area of Turkey, has so far shown that little if any
social stigma is attached to honour killing. It also comments that the practice is not related to a
feudal societal structure, "There are also perpetrators who are well-educated university graduates.
Of all those surveyed, 60 per cent are either high school or university graduates or at the very least,
Fareena Alam, editor of a Muslim magazine, writes that honour killings which arise in Western
cultures such as Britain are a tactic for immigrant families to cope with the alienating consequences
of urbanization. Alam argues that immigrants remain close to the home culture and their relatives
because it provides a safety net. She writes that,
“In villages "back home", a man's sphere of control was broader, with a large support system. In our
cities full of strangers, there is virtually no control over who one's family members sit, talk or work
THE PROBLEM IN INDIA
There are various reasons why people or family members decide to kill the daughter in the
name of preserving their family honour. The most obvious reason for this practice to continue in
India, albeit, at a much faster and almost daily basis, is because of the fact that the caste system
continues to be at its rigid best and also because people from the rural areas refuse to change their
attitude to marriage. According to them, if any daughter dares to disobey her parents on the issue of
marriage and decides to marry a man of her wishes but from another gotra or outside her caste, it
would bring disrepute to the family honour and hence they decide to give the ultimate sentence that
is death to the daughter. Now as has become the norm, the son-in-law is killed as well. Sociologists
believe that the reason why honour killings continue to take place is because of the continued
rigidity of the caste system. Hence the fear of losing their caste status through which they gain many
benefits makes them commit this heinous crime. The other reason why honour killings are taking
place is because the mentality of people has not changed and they just cannot accept that marriages
can take place in the same gotra or outside one’s caste. The root of the cause for the increase in the
number of honour killings is because the formal governance has not been able to reach the rural
areas and as a result. Thus, this practice continues though it should have been removed by now.
There are various misconceptions regarding the practice of honour killing. The first
misconception about honour killing is that this is a practice that is limited to the rural areas. The
truth is that it is spread over such a large geographical area that we cannot isolate honour killings to
rural areas only, though one has to admit that majority of the killings take place in the rural areas.
But it has also been seen recently that even the metropolitan cities like Delhi and Tamil Nadu are not
safe from this crime because 5 honour killings were reported from Delhi and in Tamil Nadu; a
daughter and son in law were killed due to marriage into the same gotra. So it can be seen clearly
that honour killing is not isolated to rural areas but also to urban areas and as already pointed out, it
has a very wide geographical spread. The second misconception regarding honour killing is that it
has religious roots. Even if a woman commits adultery, there have to be four male witnesses with
good behaviour and reputation to validate the charge. Furthermore only the State can carry out
judicial punishments, but never an individual vigilante. So, we can clearly see that there is no
religious backing or religious roots for this heinous crime.
WHERE THE PROBLEM LIES
Legislation on this issues varies, but today the vast majority of countries no longer allow a
husband to legally kill a wife for adultery (although adultery itself continues to be punishable by
death in some countries) or to commit other forms of honour killings. However, in many places,
adultery and other "immoral" sexual behaviours by female family members can be considered
mitigating circumstances in case when they are killed, leading to significantly shorter sentences.
In the Western World, a country that is often associated with "crimes of passion" and adultery
related violence is France, and indeed, recent surveys have shown French public to be more
accepting of these practices than the public in other countries. One 2008 Gallup survey compared
the views of the French, German and British public and those of French, German and British Muslims
on several social issues: 4% of French public said "honour killings" were "morally acceptable" and 8%
of French public said "crimes of passion" were "morally acceptable"; honour killings were seen as
acceptable by 1% of German public and also 1% of British public; crimes of passion were seen as
acceptable by 1% of German public and 2% of British public. Among Muslims 5% in Paris, 3% in Berlin
and 3% in London saw honour killings as acceptable, and 4% in Paris (less than French public), 1% in
Berlin and 3% in London saw crimes of passion as acceptable.
According to the report of the United Nations Special Rapporteur submitted to the 58th session of
the United Nations Commission on Human Rights in 2002 concerning cultural practices in the family
that reflect violence against women (E/CN.4/2002/83):
The Special Rapporteur indicated that there had been contradictory decisions with regard to the
honour defence in Brazil, and that legislative provisions allowing for partial or complete defence in
that context could be found in the penal codes of Argentina, Ecuador, Egypt, Guatemala, Iran, Israel,
Jordan, Peru, Syria, Venezuela and the Palestinian National Authority.
Various laws that allow full or partial defences, or otherwise are interpreted to create the
possibility of shorter sentences include:
Haiti: Article 269 of the penal code states "in the case of adultery as provided for in Article 284, the
murder by a husband of his wife and/or her partner, immediately upon discovering them in flagrante
delicto in the conjugal abode, is to be pardoned."
Jordan: Part of article 340 of the Penal Code states that "he who discovers his wife or one of his
female relatives committing adultery and kills, wounds, or injures one of them, is exempted from
any penalty." This has twice been put forward for cancellation by the government, but was retained
by the Lower House of the Parliament, in 2003: a year in which at least seven honour killings took
place. Article 98 of the Penal Code is often cited alongside Article 340 in cases of honour
killings. "Article 98 stipulates that a reduced sentence is applied to a person who kills another person
in a 'fit of fury'".
Morocco: Revisions to Morocco's criminal code in 2003 helped improve women's legal status by
eliminating unequal sentencing in adultery cases. Article 418 of the penal code granted extenuating
circumstances to a husband who kills, injures, or beats his wife or her partner, or both, when
catching them in flagrante delicto while committing adultery. While this article has not been
repealed, the penalty for committing this crime is at least now the same for both genders.
In Brazil, an explicit defence to murder in case of adultery has never been part of the criminal
code, but a defence of "honour" (not part of the criminal code) has been widely used by lawyers in
such cases to obtain acquittals. Although this defence has been generally rejected in modern parts of
the country (such as big cities) since the 1950s, it has been very successful in the interior of the
country. In 1991 Brazil’s Supreme Court explicitly rejected the “honour” defence as having no basis
in Brazilian law.
Countries where honour killing is not legal but is known to occur include:
Syria: In 2009, Article 548 of the Syrian Law code was amended. Beforehand, the article waived any
punishment for males who committed murder on a female family member for inappropriate sex
acts. Article 548 states that "He who catches his wife or one of his ascendants, descendants or sister
committing adultery (flagrante delicto) or illegitimate sexual acts with another and he killed or
injured one or both of them benefits from a reduced penalty, that should not be less than 2 years in
prison in case of a killing." Article 192 states that a judge may opt for reduced punishments (such as
short-term imprisonment) if the killing was done with an honourable intent. In addition to this,
Article 242 says that a judge may reduce a sentence for murders that were done in rage and caused
by an illegal act committed by the victim.
Italy: Article 133 and 62 of the Italian Penal Code offer the possibility of reduced sentencing and
punishment for crimes that occur within the offender's cultural norms. In the case of honour killings
and other honour related crimes, these articles could possibly allow for honour killing offenders to
ask a reduced punishment. Italian Parliament member Souad Sbai suggested in 2010 that Italy
amend these articles so that honour killings do not have extra protection under Italian law.
Turkey: In Turkey, persons found guilty of this crime are sentenced to life in prison. There are well
documented cases, where Turkish courts have sentenced whole families to life imprisonment for an
honour killing. The most recent was on January 13, 2009, where a Turkish Court sentenced five
members of the same Kurdish family to life imprisonment for the honour killing of Naile Erdas, 16,
who got pregnant as a result of rape.
Pakistan: Honour killings are known as karo kari. The practice is supposed to be prosecuted under
ordinary killing, but in practice police and prosecutors often ignore it. Often a man must simply claim
the killing was for his honour and he will go free. Nilofar Bakhtiar, advisor to Prime Minister Shaukat
Aziz, stated that in 2003, as many as 1,261 women were killed in honour killings.
The Hudood Ordinances of Pakistan enacted in 1979 by then ruler General Zia-ul-Haq, created
laws that realigned Pakistani rule with Islamic law. The law had the effect of reducing the legal
protections for women, especially regarding sex outside of the marriage. Women, who made
accusations of rape, after this law, were required to provide four male witnesses. If unable to do
this, the alleged rape could not be prosecuted in the courts. Because the woman had admitted to
sex outside of marriage, however, she could be punished for having sex outside of the marriage, a
punishment that ranged from stoning to public lashing. This law made it that much more risky for
women to come forward with accusations of rape. In 2006, the Women's Protection Bill amended
these Hudood Ordinances by removing four male witnesses as a requirement for rape allegations.
On December 8, 2004, under international and domestic pressure, Pakistan enacted a law that made
honour killings punishable by a prison term of seven years, or by the death penalty in the most
extreme cases. Women's rights organizations were, however, wary of this law as it stops short of
outlawing the practice of allowing killers to buy their freedom by paying compensation to the
victim's relatives. Women's rights groups claimed that in most cases it is the victim's immediate
relatives who are the killers, so inherently the new law is just whitewash. It did not alter the
provisions whereby the accused could negotiate pardon with the victim's family under the Islamic
provisions. In March 2005, the Pakistani parliament rejected a bill which sought to strengthen the
law against the practice of honour killing. However, the bill was brought up again, and in November
2006, it passed. It is doubtful whether or not the law would actually help women.
Egypt: A number of studies on honour crimes by The Centre of Islamic and Middle Eastern Law, at
the School of Oriental and African Studies in London, includes one which reports on Egypt's legal
system, noting a gender bias in favour of men in general, and notably article 17 of the Penal Code:
judicial discretion to allow reduced punishment in certain circumstance, often used in honour killings
RISING HONOUR KILLINGS IN INDIA
Honour killings have been reported in northern regions of India, mainly in the Indian states of
Punjab, Rajasthan, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, as a result of people marrying without their family's
acceptance, and sometimes for marrying outside their caste or religion. In contrast, honour killings
are rare to non-existent in South India and the western Indian states of Maharashtra and Gujarat. In
some other parts of India, notably West Bengal, honour killings ceased about a century ago, largely
due to the activism and influence of reformists such as Vivekananda, Ramakrishna, Vidyasagar and
Raja Ram Mohan Roy.
Among Rajputs, marriages with members of other castes can provoke the killing of the married
couple and immediate family members. This form of honour killing is attributed [who?] to Rajput
culture and traditional views on the perceived "purity" of a lineage.
The Indian state of Punjab has a large number of honour killings. According to data compiled by the
Punjab Police, 34 honour killings were reported in the state between 2008 and 2010: 10 in 2008, 20
in 2009, and four in 2010.
Haryana is also notorious for incidents of honour killing, mainly in the upper caste of society, among
rajputs and jaats. Bhagalpur in the eastern Indian state of Bihar has also been notorious for honour
killings. Recent cases include a 16-year-old girl, Imrana, from Bhojpur who was set on fire inside her
house in a case of what the police called 'moral vigilantism'. The victim had screamed for help for
about 20 minutes before neighbours arrived, only to find her smouldering body. She was admitted
to a local hospital, where she later died from her injuries. In May 2008, Jayvirsingh Bhadodiya shot
his daughter Vandana Bhadodiya and struck her on the head with an axe. In June 2010 some
incidents were reported even from Delhi.
In a landmark judgment in March 2010, Karnal district court ordered the execution of five
perpetrators of an honour killing in Kaithal, and imprisoning for life the khap (local caste-based
council) chief who ordered the killings of Manoj Banwala (23) and Babli (19), a man and woman of
the same clan who eloped and married in June 2007. Despite having been given police protection on
court orders, they were kidnapped; their mutilated bodies were found a week later in an irrigation
In 1990 the National Commission for Women set up a statutory body in order to address the
issues of honour killings among some ethnic groups in North India. This body reviewed
constitutional, legal and other provisions as well as challenges women face. The NCW's activism has
contributed significantly towards the reduction of honour killings in rural areas of North India.
According to Pakistani activists Hina Jilani and Eman M. Ahmed, Indian women are considerably
better protected against honour killings by Indian law and government than Pakistani women, and
they have suggested that governments of countries affected by honour killings use Indian law as a
model in order to prevent honour killings in their respective societies.
In June 2010, scrutinizing the increasing number of honour killings, the Supreme Court of India
issued notices to the Central Government and six states including Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana
and Rajasthan to take preventive measures against honour killings
Alarmed by the rise of honour killings, the Government planned to bring a bill in the Monsoon
Session of Parliament July 2010[dated info] to provide for deterrent punishment for 'honour' killings.
In June 2012, a man chopped off his 20-year-old daughter's head with a sword in Rajasthan after
learning that she was dating men. According to police officer, "Omkar Singh told the police that his
daughter Manju had relations with several men. He had asked her to mend her ways several times in
the past. However, she did not pay heed. Out of pure rage, he chopped off her head with the sword.
Firstly, the mentality of the people has to change. And when we say that the mentality has to
change, we mean to say that parents should accept their children’s wishes regarding marriage as it is
they who have to lead a life with their life partners and if they are not satisfied with their life partner
then they will lead a horrible married life which might even end in suicide. Secondly, we need to
have stricter laws to tackle these kinds of killings as this is a crime which cannot be pardoned
because. Humans do not have the right to write down death sentences of innocent fellow humans.
The information that was gathered through interviews and other academic researchers,
established to be a very interesting subject to be researched, there are many other topics within this
field that could have been looked at, as honour crime is a wide concept that consists of many
different issues. Honour crime is a global problem, and there needs to be more research put in to it.
The participants that were chosen for the interviews worked within organisations that help deal with
victims of honour related crimes, to help make comparison with academic writers. A better
perspective could have been given if victims of honour related crimes were allowed to be
interviewed, as the definition to honour crime varies from person to person, it would have given a
clear understanding of what the actual definition consists of or similarities that were shown, but due
to the sensitivity of the research, the researcher was unable to do this as it goes against all ethical
Firstly, as small scale study was done, and will definitely have some flaws mainly due the fact
that the findings cannot be generalised across the world as a small scale study was used. It would be
better to do a research where a larger population could be used, and this time, the general public
would be used in the sample, to get a broader understanding of the concept. Secondly a cross
cultural research needs to be carried out to get a clear understanding of the different motivations of
honour crimes, and the research would be done on people from different generations and to
distinguish the differences in their perception of honour crimes. Thirdly more topics would need to
researched, as the concept of honour crime is really broad.
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