Honour Killings. The intersection of patriarchy, gender and religion
woman is justified on the condition that the woman has brought dishonour to her family.5 A
family council consisting of the victim’s male relatives decide whether a woman is guilty of
dishonourable acts6, which can include but is not limited to, a woman who is raped by a man
other than her husband, an adulterous woman, a woman who desires to leave her abusive
husband, a woman failing to prove that she is a virgin on her wedding night by not bleeding, and
a woman appearing in a public space with a man who is neither her husband nor her relative.7
Some honour killings are executed for seemingly minor infractions as well, such as a young
woman’s refusal to wear or improperly wearing the hijab and her desire to wear makeup; this
rationalisation for honour killing is also known at Westernisation,8 which indicates that honour
killings are not exclusively carried out in developing countries, but also in the developed world,
also typically considered the Western world. Most reports indicate that victims of honour killings
are habitually women of poorer economic status and the perpetrators of these crimes are their
male relatives.9 The official number of reported honour killings is estimated at 5 000 to 10 000
annually10 and the United Nations’ Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) has further
detailed the facts and figures related to honour killings in a number of Arabic nations: there are
over 1 000 women killed annually in Pakistan for bringing shame and dishonour upon their
families and in Egypt, 47% of the women killed in Alexandria had been killed by a male relative
after having been raped.11 Conversely, it is imperative to take into consideration the fact that
honour killings, similarly to rape and other forms of domestic violence against women, are rarely
5 Johal, Anita. “Struggle Not Submission: Domestic Violence.” From Homebreakers to Jailbreakers: Southall
Black Sisters. p. 37.
6 Sev'er, Aysan, and Gökçeçiçek Yurdakul. “Culture of Honor, Culture of Change: A Feminist Analysis of Honor
Killings in Rural Turkey.” p. 965.
7 Odeh, Lama Abu. “Honor Killings and the Construction of Gender in Arab Societies.” p. 918.
8 Chester, Phyllis. “Worldwide Trends in Honor Killings.” p. 6.
9 Odeh, Lama Abu. “Honor Killings and the Construction of Gender in Arab Societies.” p. 912.
10 Epstein, Cynthia Fuchs. “Death by Gender.” p. 54.
11 Cohen, Michelle Fram. “The Condition of Women in Developing and Developed Countries.” p. 263.