One of the worlds most hidden and heinous crimes is honor killings. Women are often murdered in all parts of the world for even slight rumor of dishonoring the family name. Hundreds of women of all ages are killed in the name of honor- most cases go unreported, and almost all go unpunished. Although a common occurrence in many middle eastern countries, this practice is virtually unknown in the western world, leaving millions unaware of the brutality of these killings. Honor killings can be defined as the killing of any person (s) to protect family honor. The majority of the victims are female.
In middle eastern countries, women are often times seen as the property of the men. In such environments, marriage and motherhood is the ultimate path to status attainment (Sev " er 969). "The concept of ownership has turned women into a commodity which can be exchanged, bought, and sold" (Mayell 15). In addition to being seen as a possession, women have the cumber of not blackening the family name.
In the Phatan language, the title given to these killings is "Karo Kari". Phatan is the tribal group of people from usually the Northwestern frontier area in which there is no rule by government, but tribal rulings. This name is literally translated to "black man, black women" for blackening the family name. Karo is masculine, giving the label to the adulterer.
Any woman that is even rumored to be dishonorable is named Kari. This practice has thrived for centuries. There are many reasons that people are killed, some rationale being: Marital infidelity, pre-marital sex, flirting, or even failing to serve a meal on time. In certain cases, a wife may be killed without proper reason. For example, a wife was killed by her husband because he dreamed that she betrayed him (Mayell 15). Another example of the shameless brutality is when a women was killed in Turkey because someone dedicated a love song to her on the radio (Mayell 15).
The killings have been taken so for as to a killing in the province of Balochistan for a misses going to visit her family without asking for permission from her husband first (Mustikhan 2). Though cases could possibly be understood as honor, not always are the killings so honorable. "In one case a man killed his 85-year-old mother on the charge of committing adultery, and then obtained Rs 25,000 (about US $500) from the man participating in the alleged sex act" (Mustikhan 3). People are killings rivals and using honor as an acquit. Such things as disfavor for a person, desire of second marriage, or wanting to extract money and get a new woman in penalty from alleged karo and to disgrace any rivals are all "legitimate" reasons to kill.
Victims of rape are even killed because they are told that they are impure. Because the society is one with a high percentage of arranged marriages, a women can be killed for wanting to select her own husband. Unfortunately, women are not receiving the opportunity to prove their innocence if accused of a crime. Even if there was a rumor that the lady was being promiscuous, she would be murdered. She would be buried in unmarked grave and all records of her existence would be wiped out. Not only are women being killed, but children have been put to death for their parents' wrong doings.
They are completely innocent, but are killed because their parents' dishonor as been passed down to them through family name. Beyond popular disbelief, honor killings are not permitted in Islam, though most of the killings occur in Muslim nations. Due to community mentality, women often support these killings. They were raised to believe that if a women did anything iniquitous, she deserves death. The compliance of other women (from either the family or community) helps feed the perception that it is not an unlawful crime. Although most honor killings are concentrated in the middle east and Asia, it is practiced all around it world.
"Reports submitted to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights show that honor killings have occurred in Bangladesh, Great Britain, Brazil, Ecuador, Egypt, India, Israel, Italy, Jordan, Pakistan, Morocco, Sweden, Turkey, and Uganda" (Mayell 13-14). The practice was condoned by fundamentalists in Afghanistan, but they have been reported to occur in Iraq and Iran. Iraq and Iran did not report these killings to the UN. Majority of the honor killings occur in countries where women are considered vessels of the family reputation. The bulk of the killings occur in places where tribal customs are followed with little resistance. Father's often have their son (s) do the killing, for if by some odd chance any legal action is taken, the would get a much lighter sentence for being a minor.
Many studies have been performed to try to calculate the rates of these killings. In the province of Punjab, estimated 888 women were killed in 1998 verses the 300 killed in the province of Sindh. India and Pakistan have the most honor killings annually ("Honor Crimes by Country" 1). "In India, it is estimated that more than 5,000 women are killed each year because their in-laws consider their dowries inadequate" (Mayell pg. 16). Pakistan's homicide rate is not quite as high as India's, but is an incredibly high 1,000 killings. Also in 1997, Yemen reported up to 400 honor killings, while in Bangladesh, there were approximately 200 killings.
In Egypt there were fifty-two reported and in Lebanon there were thirty-six killings. Offenders were sometimes treated as heroes, again feeding the mentality that honor killings should continue. In the West bank and Gaza strip more than two-thirds of all homicides were believed to be honor killings. Jordan averages twenty-five killings annually, leaving it to be the nation with the fewest reported honor killings. There is no specific trend that is able to be seen in these killings ("Honor Crimes by Country" 1).
Unfortunately, these rituals are ingrained in many cultures, but action is being taken in some areas. "Officials often say that nothing can be done to halt the practice because the concept of women's rights is not culturally relevant to deeply patriarchal societies" (Mayell 16). Spectators say that the killings will never end because the people committing the crimes are poor, uneducated, illiterate people. These people are seen as being too tribal to follow the local law. Police officers and prosecutors need to work to end honor killings.
If they do not see anything wrong with it, there will be nobody to prosecute the perpetrators. The state's indifference, discriminatory laws, and the gender bias of the majority of the countries' police force have assured that most of the perpetrators of honor killings will go unharmed (Mustikhan 1). A group of anti-honor killing people attempted to pass a resolution condemning honor killings, but it failed to pass. Countries need to start reviewing their criminal codes for discrimination against women for such articles as the murder of a wife not to be more lenient than the murder of a husband. In most countries in which the practice occurs, there are few shelters and almost no other forms of legal protection.
In Jordan, a woman can check herself into prison if she fears being killed. The twist is, she cannot check herself out of jail. Only a male relative can and that is usually the reason she checked into the penitentiary to begin with. On the higher side, some action is finally being taken. "Zahida Parve en, a 29-year old mother of three, was brutally disfigured and underwent extensive facial reconstruction in the United States.
She is one of the only survivors in Pakistan to successfully prosecute the attacker- her husband" (Mayell 19). As barbarous as it is that women are taken as the goods of the men of the family, this idea is very renown. This atrocious embezzlement is finally being brought to light and action is starting to be taken. Statistics have shown that family members are the most immediate threat, leaving the children vulnerable. Hopefully these killings will be brought to an end forthwith.