Honor Killings: Literature Review 1

Honor Killings: Literature Review
Gabriel Guillen
The University of Texas at El Paso
Instructor Tafari Nugent

Honor Killings: Literature Review 2

Honor Killings are an issue that takes place around the world. Honor killings are mainly a
cultural event that is most common in Muslim communities. However it is not limited to
Muslim communities. Honor Killings can have different names but are mainly a part of the same
issue such as “crimes of passion” and other murders committed on women. This literature
review will inform the reader about what an honor killing is and what actions are being taken to
prevent them.

Honor Killings: Literature Review 3

Honor Killings: Literature Review

Honor killings are an ongoing issue that takes place within the Muslim discourse
community. Honor killings have recently become more of a newer issue, not because it is a
recent issue but because in the past actions like reporting the incidents never occurred. To be
clear, an honor killing is when a woman, who is symbolized to be the vessel of a family in
certain religions, does something to de-purify the family name. Things a woman can do to cause
the name to be unpurified are offenses such as marrying someone the family did not give
consent to, sexual affairs, and even the simplest of things such as glancing at another man. The
issue has been reported to the United Nations (UN) in several countries such as Great Britain,
Turkey, Bangladesh, Brazil, Ecuador, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Pakistan, Morocco, Sweden, and
Uganda. Other places that have not turned in such reports to the UN are Afghanistan, Iran, and
Iraq. This paper will discuss the issues that are entitled with honor killings and will answer four
questions being:
1) What are honor killings?
2) How often do honor killings occur?
3) Are there organizations fighting against this issue? What are some of the steps
being taken to prevent honor killings?
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4) As Americans do we have the right to infringe our ethics and morals on other
What are honor killings?
As previously stated honor killings are murders targeted on a woman for de-purifying a
family name. It is the killing of a woman for an actual perceived immoral behavior. There have
been many reported honor killings, one of the most common reasons this event happens is due
to speculated suspicions of an intimate relationship between a man and a woman. From
adultery, to sexual relationships out of wed-lock, to something as simple as a friendship, any of
these circumstances are valid reasons to murder a woman for a families honor. Many killings
have left many questioning if the actions that were taken we even remotely just to the woman
who have been killed.
Take Nuran Halitogullari, a 14 year old girl who had been kidnapped and raped over the
course of six days, after being rescued by police she was returned home. After being returned
home she was murdered by her father. When the father was asked why he took her life by the
police he replied, “I decided to kill her because her honor was dirtied.” He also plans to kill her
rapist. It seems as if there is no guideline as to why these killings occur. Muslim countries
participate in this issue the most, but there is nothing in the Qur’an that states murdering a
woman is ok. However women are seen as the vessel of a family and are held to be the example
of the family.
Nuran’s story is one of many stories about the tragic event. Women are constantly
attacked for things that would seem meaningless in the United States. A pregnant woman
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without a husband almost seems common in the United States; in fact 40.7% of births here are
by unwed mothers. If this were to happen in a Muslim or Indian culture the terminology “my
dad is going to kill me” becomes much more literal than we perceive it. Guldunya Toren, a 22
year old Turkish woman, was shot in the head by her two brothers in her hospital bed after
recovering from a recent attack by her brothers. She was killed because she was pregnant and
not married. Although it is tragic a small step for women’s right to life took place, her brothers
were captured and convicted for murder; one is sentenced to life in prison and the other is
sentenced to 11 years in prison.
Convictions are rare in these cases due to the fact that it isn’t seen as a crime to most in
the culture. I would like to say how the women feel about the issue, but coming from a place
where women’s lives are jeopardized over almost anything, women don’t have much of a say
on the issue. Some women have spoken out which has really helped bring awareness to the
issue but it’s very dangerous to do this. The issue is growing but when honor killings take place,
most go unheard.

How often do honor killings occur?
Although the issue is now becoming voiced it is still unsure how often these killings happen.
This is due to the fact that the crime goes without being reported. It is said that 5,000 thousand
honor killing happen a year. 1000 women in India are killed yearly. According to United Nations
Children’s Fund in 2000, 5,000 brides die a year in India for their dowries (money or property
given to groom by bride) not being good enough. 4,000 less deaths a year is highly significant
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but still not enough. The statistics most have are highly inaccurate because most of the crimes
aren’t reported.
Pakistan also suffers 1000 women dead due to honor killings. India and Pakistan
make up two-fifths of women who suffer from honor killings, but who knows if that is even
accurate due to the fact that these statistics are the reported statistics. Iraq Iran and
Afghanistan are suspected to take this most serious but none have any reports to give to the
UN about the issue. Here is a diagram from the Pew Forum, a 226 page report on opinions from
people of Muslim countries done in 2013. Afghanistan, Iraq, Jordan, and Egypt are the prime
examples that support of honor killings still happen today and many of the countries on this
diagram show that honor killings go without being punished in this culture. You might have
noticed India one of the most common places honor killings take place, this is because India,
Iran, Saudi Arabia, and China were not surveyed.
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Are there organizations fighting against this issue? What are some of the steps being taken to
prevent honor killings?

You might be asking yourself why is there nothing being done about this issue? Well the
answer is simple because it is life threatening. However there are organizations designed to
voice the issue and raise awareness such as Kurdish Women Action against Honour Killings
(KWAHK), Stop Islamization of America’s (SIOA), Honor Based Violence Awareness Network
(HBVA), and several other awareness campaigns.
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SIOA has ads that raise awareness about Honor Violence and take an approach with the
ads in Chicago. It is beginning to raise awareness in major U.S. cities about the dangers of
Honor Violence with its LeaveIslamSafely.com Campaign. The ads are featured on the top of
taxi cabs have victims of murder due to “westernization” and/or leaving the Islam religion. SIOA
is expected to expand to bus advertisement. This is one of several actions being taken to raise
awareness and cause prevention.

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Other steps that have been taken to prevent honor killings are through the form of
legislation. In 2009 the European Parliamentary Assembly declared honor killings as an
emergency; its resolution was advising other nations to create national action plans to combat
actions against “honor” crimes. Several programs have come together to raise awareness,
educate, and eventually put a halt to the issue.
As Americans do we have the right to infringe our ethics and morals on other cultures?
As Americas we obviously take murders as a very serious issue no matter the person or the
circumstances, we as a country believe it is wrong and unjust. Punishments for any murder are
taken very seriously, with very serious jail time, man or woman. We believe in fundamental
rights as human beings so should everyone else in the world believe this? Are we right to cut
into the middle-east and correct their way of life?
It’s an issue we as Americans seem to constantly be in and out of even before 9/11.
April of 2012 a woman named Razan Fayez, a family law attorney at Tahirih Justice Center,
received a call from a woman of a Women’s shelter in Texas who needed advice on what to do
with a girl who ran away from her home because she didn’t want to part of an arranged
marriage. The parents threatened to sue the shelter if the girl was not returned, Razan Fayez
said, “I remember feeling an overwhelming sense of urgency. If she goes off to be married
against her will, she'll be raped." She told the woman to file an order of protections for the girl
and tried to see what connections she could get together. According to child services they
didn’t want to be involved in a cultural issue. The girl was returned to her family the next day.
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The government will probably want to stay out of anything to do with the middle-east
and the Muslim culture for a while; after all we are still fighting the war on terrorism. In 2009
Noor Almaleki was ran over by her father who was angry because she was becoming too
westernized. She didn’t want to take part in an arranged marriage; the murder was not
documented as an honor killing. So you can see how the issue’s data is hard to gather. Deputy
Chris Boughey of Arizona was the lead investigator on the Noor Almaleki case he stated “We
don't have the mechanisms in place here in the U.S. to take care of these girls . Ninety-nine
percent of the time, we take her home. But some of these girls end up getting killed."
If cases like this happen in our own backyard, shouldn’t we realize there are
measurements we need to take as a country to deter this issue? If women’s lives are at stake
but we, as a country, are too afraid to stand up for them because of “cultural issues” does that
make us any better than the killer? Although we cannot pinpoint when an event like this will
occur, we can make punishments on the issue stricter. Crimes of passion in Latin America are
treated very leniently, if more severe punishments were taken into consideration wouldn’t
there be more of a chance men will think twice about murdering women?
Although honor killings are a hard issue to pinpoint, it happens. Women’s lives are let to be
decided by the men of their family. In America we have women’s rights, women fought for
them. If women in other countries lives were not at stake, would you think they would fight for
their rights? Honor Killings happen everywhere, in countries all around the world. There are
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several organizations raising awareness and doing what they can to deter the issue. As
Americas there are things we can do to become involved with putting an end to the issue.

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(2014, February 13). Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/unmarry.htm
Frequently Asked Questions About 'Honour Killing' | Violence is not our Culture. (n.d.).
Retrieved from http://www.violenceisnotourculture.org/faq_honour
Kurdish Women Action Against Honour Killings (KWAHK). (n.d.). Retrieved from
Turkey struggles to cope with 'honour' killings. (2004, April 29). Retrieved from
http://www.breakingnews.ie/worl d/turkey-struggles-to-cope-with-honour-killings-
International Honour Based Violence Resource Centre. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://hbv-
Violence against women. (2000). Retrieved from http://www.unicef.org/newsline/00pr17.htm
Fisher, M. (2013, May 02). What the Muslim world believes, on everything from alcohol to
honor killings, in 8 maps, 5 charts. Retrieved from
Dahl, J. (2012, April 5). "Honor killing" under growing scrutiny in the U.S. Retrieved from
Kiener, R. (2011, April 19). Honor Killings. CQ Global Researcher, 5, 183-208
Glazov, J. (2010, July 14). Honor Killings Awareness Campaign. Retrieved from