Honor killings. A murder that takes places when a female member of the family is discovered or suspected of bringing shame upon her family. Reasons for these murders vary, but the motives for these crimes usually are either sexual behavior (e.g. adultery, fornication), having a boyfriend without the family’s consent (regardless of whether or not any sexual activity took place), marrying for love (without the family’s consent), or rejecting an arranged marriage. Even rape victims are killed, because they are considered to be damaged goods, unfit for marriage. Males are sometimes victims as well, whether they be the boyfriend or unapproved husband, someone engaging in homosexual behavior, etc.
Honor killings are predominant in the Muslim world and they appear to have actually pre-dated Islam. Given the role of women in the Islamic faith, Muslims put a stamp of approval on the practice, thus continuing it to this day. Occasionally someone of another faith carries out this barbaric act, but a majority of honor killings have been committed by Muslims (91% to be exact). Although the number of honor killings vary country by country (if they are even reported), it seems that the nations with the most honor killings are Pakistan, Turkey, Jordan, Iraq, and the Palestinian Authority. I sometimes wonder if they are competing for a prize of some sort.
Since Islam approves of honor killings, it is no surprise that honor killers are rarely brought to justice. The penalties (if there are any) are usually slap-on-the-wrist sentences- the toughest being a few years in prison. Those who commit honor killings are sometimes treated as heroes, because they have “restored” honor to their families. It is usually a male member who carries out the act, often having cooperation from other relatives. Sometimes an outsider is assigned to carry out the deed. And those families who choose not to kill someone who has shamed them (whether or not it actually is true) are ostracized until they do so. And whereas some families might boast about the deed, others choose not to talk about it (even going so far as to never mentioning the victim again, hence erasing the victim’s existence).
Honor killings are not the only methods used. Forced marriages (one notch above arranged marriages) are frequent, usually carried out under the threat of death. Honor suicides also take place, thus giving the victim the choice of committing suicide or being killed. Beatings and acid mutilation are other methods of choice.
Not only are honor killings not limited to the Muslim faith, but they have also taken place beyond the Muslim world. Cases of honor killings (and other honor crimes) have sprung up in Canada, Australia, and throughout Europe. Britain (in response to a series of forced marriages consisting of the intended brides being taken abroad for their wedding) has established a forced marriages unit with the purpose of investigating and preventing such crimes. And of course, honor killings have taken place here in America. Since the penalties are tougher in the Western world (although no honor killer has yet to receive the death penalty) the perpetrator will sometimes try to flee the United States to the country that he or she emigrated from (and where they will receive a lenient punishment, if any at all).
It is unclear how much of a stand the Western World will take against honor crimes (particularly those that have taken place in it) due to political correctness. As for the Muslim world, it is virtually impossible to denounce honor crimes, since a majority of its people approve of it. Until then, honor crimes will continue at alarming rates, with the perpetrators receiving little or no punishment at all.
Image: Courtesy of: http://www.practicalpedal.com/photographcfo/Honor-Killings-of-Women.html