Monday, June 16, 2008

Honour Killings & Violence - Why Do They Happen?

ignorantia iuris neminem excusat - Ignorance Of The Law Excuses No-One

The following Articles in the ECHR are relevant to Honour Violence and Killings.

Article 2 - Right to Life
Article 4 - Prohibition of Slavery and Forced Labour
Article 5 – Right to Liberty and Security
Article 9 – Freedom of Thought, Conscience and Religion
Article 12 – Right to Marry

Brian Whitaker's article "Rights in Practice - Considering How to Deal with 'Honour' Killings may provide a Model for Human Rights Activism in other situations" presents what I also believe are the main driving forces behind Honour Violence/Killings today.

  • "Honour" killing is a very old practice that pre-dates Islam. It is a hangover from the days when order was maintained by tribes, families and local communities in the absence of an effective state. In some countries these old systems of tribal law still exist to a degree alongside the machinery of state - and sometimes in competition with it.

  • The concept of family honour is also very old. Basically, it's an extreme version of "Whatever will the neighbours think?" and, in theory, it imposes discipline on family members for their collective good but today it can also be oppressive and tyrannical, denying individuals the right to make their own choices about careers, marriage partners, etc.

  • Then there's the gender issue. According to Sharif Kanaana, professor of anthropology at Birzeit University in Palestine, "honour" killing is the product of a patriarchal and patrilineal 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."
  • I would also like to add family members are essentially financial/material commodities when no welfare state exists. A family member has either the status of being an expense/burden or a source of financial/material profit to the family, clan or tribe. This will influence attitudes and behaviour. A human being who is viewed as an expense/burden for life, is far more likely to be targeted with honour violence/killing.



In my post Honour Killings - Victims in European Countries, I presented 24 examples of Honour Killings in Europe. The people responsible for these crimes came from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Kurdistan, India and Pakistan. The fact that the people responsible for these deaths had been given British Citizenship astounds me.

Honor Killings have also been reported in the following countries - Albania, Brazil, Canada, Ecuador, Egypt, Iraq, Israel (within the Arab, Druze and Bedouin communities), Italy, Jordan, the Palestinian territories, Saudi Arabia, Uganda and the United States.

The following reports go into more detail on the subject, in Pakistan and Egypt.

Pakistan: Honour Killings of Women and Girls
This report describes the different facets of the phenomenon of honour killings in Pakistan. It looks at the traditions that form the framework of such killings, particularly the commodification of women and the notion of honour. Honour killings may happen for a variety of reasons, including seeking a divorce, rape or choosing a marriage partner.

Honour Killing In Egypt "Violence against women: Good practices in combating and eliminating violence against women" UN Division for the Advancement of Women in collaboration with: UN Office on Drugs and Crime - 17 to 20 May 2005 - Vienna, Austria



Brits sought to ban Sati, destroy the Thug Cult and stop Female Infanticide in India but, they do not appear to have done anything to reduce/stop Honour Violence and Killings, during the days of empire.

Today the Western Press is presenting Honour Violence/Killings as a Shocking Recent Phenomena. These brutal acts are being freely imported into every European Country, even the USA today. Many western countries had prior knowledge of countries with histories of honour violence/killings. Why therefore didn't European countries implement sound immigration policies in the first place and enforce specific laws banning honour violence/killings when these immigrants arrived, before awarding residence and citizenship?


Having Somewhere to Turn...

Great Britain Emergency Hotlines
For those needing Protection from Human Rights Violators, here are some emergency contact numbers in Great Britain.

Honour Network Helpline - 7 Days A Week 9:30 - 21:00 / 0800 5999 247
Forced Marriage Unit - 9:00 - 17:00 / 020 7008 0151 / Outside UK (0044) 207 008 0151
In Emergencies Contact Domestic Violence 24 Hour Hotline - 0808 2000 247
Help and Advice in Farsi, Kurdish, Turkish and Arabic - 0207 4900 303 / 07862 733 511

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