12-01-05 5:34 PMStigmatization of Rape & Honor Killings | WISE Muslim WomenPage 1 of 2http://www.wisemuslimwomen.org/currentissues/stigmitizationofrape/
Multan, Pakistan. 2003. Women hold arally to protest an honor killing where aman allegedly strangled his 23-year-olddaughter for defying tradition bychoosing her own husband. Photocredit: Khalid Tanveer/AP Images.
Current Issues Stigmatization of Rape & Honor Killings
Summary of the Issue
Even though international and legal agencies have re-quired countries to take appropriate steps to end vio-lence against women such as in the Convention on theElimination of All Forms of Discrimination againstWomen (CEDAW), violence against women and girls isstill a significant issue that needs to be addressed withall available resources. According to the United NationsDevelopment Fund for Women (UNIFEM), one in fivewomen worldwide will become a victim of rape or at-tempted rape in her lifetime. Islam takes a firm stance,which states that rape is haram, or forbidden, and car-ries a strong and deterring punishment. Sheikh AhmadKutty, senior lecturer scholar at the Islamic Institute of Toronto, Ontario, Canadastates: “A raped woman is a victim that must be treated with honor and kindness.She is not required to produce four witnesses to prove the crime done against her,nor is she punished for the crime done against her.”In many Muslim societies, women are often held responsible and stigmatized for theviolence against them. Rape continues to remain a taboo subject and in some caseswomen will face discrimination instead of the recognition and vital assistance theyneed after being abused. Some rape victims are murdered by relatives because the vi-olation of a woman’s chastity is viewed as an attack to their family’s honor. Almost50 percent of women in a study of female deaths in Alexandria, Egypt were killed bya relative after being raped. In a number of countries a rapist can go free under thepenal code if he proposes to marry the victim. The United Nations Population Fund(UNFPA) estimates that the annual worldwide number of honor killing victims may be as high as 5,000 women. Even female relatives frequently support honor attacks asthey too believe women are responsible for embodying a family’s honor. As a result,rape victims remain silent and refrain from seeking help because they are afraid of repercussions and lack of justice. At the same time, there are other women who taketheir own lives, in what is known as “honor suicides,” due to mounting family pres-sure and fear.