What is Honour Killing? [1]

An honour killing (also called a customary killing) happens when a person is murdered by a family member out of the belief or suspicion that the victim has brought shame to the family, clan or community.

In some cultures, there is a deep-rooted belief that women are mere objects and the property of male relatives. Therefore, when a woman acts “out of line”, the authority and honour of the male or the family is challenged and the man or family feels the need to redeem the family’s honour. Murdering the woman is believed to salvage the family’s honour.

Some hard facts about honour killing:

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Factors leading to an honour killing

Women and girls can become targets of honour killings when they are thought to have brought shame to the family. It is important to note that even the suspicion of a transgression is reason enough to justify a killing.

Situations include:

  • Being a victim of rape
  • Refusing to marry someone chosen by their family (see Forced Marriage)
  • Engaging in premarital sex
  • Having an affair
  • Demanding a divorce, even in an abusive relationship
  • Talking or flirting with an unrelated male
  • Not following a strict dress code

Footnotes and Further Reading

  1. “Honour Violence Fact Sheet”, The AHA Foundation
  2. “Lives Together, Worlds Apart”, The United Nations Population Fund.
  3. “Worldwide Trends in Honour Killings”, Middle East Forum
  4. “The number of cases of “honour” based violence, forced marriage and FGM reported to the police in the UK has increased by 53% since 2014”, IKWRO
  5. “Honour Killings: More Than 300 Cases in the Past 3 Years”, The Time Of India (Infographic included)
  6. “Chapter 4: Violence by Intimate Partners”, World Health Organisation
  7. “Thousands of Women Killed For Family Honour”, National Geographic News