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«Thousands of Women Killed for Family Honor Hillary Mayell for National Geographic News February 12, 2002 Hundreds, if not thousands, of women are ...»

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http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/pf/15061734.html 12/24/2009 "Honor" Killings  Culture of Discrimination: A Fact Sheet on "Honor" Killings   Honor Killings fact sheet (PDF)  Ankara, Turkey ‐Ignoring the pleas of his 14‐year old daughter to spare her life, Mehmet Halitogullari  pulled on a wire wrapped around her neck and strangled her ‐ supposedly to restore the family's honor  after she was kidnapped and raped... "I decided to kill her because our honor was dirtied," the  newspaper Sabah quoted the father as saying. "I didn't listen to her pleas, I wrapped the wire around her  neck and pulled at it until she died" (The Associated Press).  Every year around the world an increasing number of women are killed in the name of "honor."  Relatives, usually male, commit acts of violence against wives, sisters, daughters and mothers to reclaim  their family honor from real or suspected actions that are perceived to have compromised it. Due to  discriminatory societal beliefs and extremist views of gender, officials often condone or ignore the use  of torture and brutality against women. As a result, the majority of so‐called honor killings go  unreported and perpetrators face little, if any, consequence.  Although "/women/honor" killings are widely reported in regions throughout the Middle East and South  Asia, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary and Arbitrary Executions  reported that these crimes against women occur in countries as varied as Bangladesh, Brazil, Ecuador,  Egypt, India, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Italy, Jordan, Morocco, Pakistan, Sweden, Turkey, Uganda and the United  Kingdom. The United Nations Population Fund estimates that the annual world‐wide number of "honor"  killing victims is 5000 women.1 In a study of female murders in Alexandria, Egypt, 47% of the women  were killed after the woman had been raped. In Jordan and Lebanon, 70‐75% of the perpetrators of  these "honor" killings are the women's brothers.2  The Concept of Honor  So‐called honor killings are based on the belief, deeply rooted in some cultures, of women as objects  and commodities, not as human beings endowed with dignity and rights equal to those of men. Women  are considered the property of male relatives and are seen to embody the honor of the men to whom  they "belong." Women's bodies are considered the repositories of family honor. The concepts of male  status and family status are of particular importance in cultures where "honor" killings occur and where  women are viewed as responsible for upholding a family's "honor." If a woman or girl is accused or  suspected of engaging in behavior that could taint male and/or family status, she may face brutal  retaliation from her relatives that often results in violent death. Even though such accusations are not  based on factual or tangible evidence, any allegation of dishonor against a woman often suffices for  family members to take matters into their own hands.  Convicted killers often speak with defiant pride and without regret about their actions. "We do not  consider this murder," said Wafik Abu Abseh, a 22‐year‐old Jordanian woodcutter who committed a so‐ called honor killing, as his mother, brother and sisters nodded in agreement. "It was like cutting off a  finger." Abdel Rahim, a convicted killer who was released after two months, also said he had no regrets.  "Honor is more precious than my own flesh and blood" (New York Times).  International Human Rights Foundations   Article 1 of the UN Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women proclaims "the term  'violence against women' means any act of gender‐based violence that results in, or is likely to result in,  physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or  arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life."  The Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination of All Forms Against Women (CEDAW) concludes  that "...State Parties [should] take all appropriate measures [...] to modify the social and cultural  patterns of conduct of men and women, with a view to achieving the elimination of prejudices [...] and  all other practices which are based on the idea of inferiority or the superiority of either of the sexes or  on stereotyped roles for men and women."  CEDAW General Recommendation 19 clarifies that traditional public and private ideologies that regard  women as "subordinate to men" and seek to "justify gender‐based violence as a form of protection or  control" deprive women of mental and bodily integrity.  The Platform for Action on Women's Human Rights from the UN Fourth World Conference on Women  calls upon states to "take urgent action to combat and eliminate violence against women, which is a  human rights violation resulting from harmful traditional or customary practices, cultural prejudices and  extremism."  The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) asserts that "every human being has  the inherent right to life" in addition to "the right to liberty and security of person."  What can precipitate an "honor" killing?  Women and girls can be killed for a variety of behaviors, which may include talking with an unrelated  male, consensual sexual relations outside marriage, being a victim of rape, seeking a divorce, or refusing  to marry the man chosen by one's family. Even the suspicion of a transgression may result in a killing. AI  received a report of a man who killed his wife on the basis of a dream he had about her committing  adultery. Women have been killed for ostensibly disrespecting their husbands. In one case, a woman  was beaten to death for not performing her domestic duties quickly enough. Women may also be  assaulted physically but not killed. When they attempt to seek help from law enforcement, they may be  disbelieved or they may be discredited by officials who support the prevailing cultural expectations for  women. Some countries have passed laws that allow lesser penalties for men who kill "in the name of  family honor". In others, the police may be bribed by the family of the killer to ignore attempts to report  the killing as a murder.  In 1999, twenty‐nine year old Samia Sarwar was shot dead in her lawyer's office in Lahore. Her parents  instigated the murder, feeling that Samia had brought shame on the family by seeking divorce after 10  years of marital abuse. Although the perpetrators can be easily identified, not one of them has been  arrested. Instead, her lawyer, Hina Jilani, and her colleague, Asma Jahangir, have been publicly  condemned and received death threats.  Religious, Social and Institutional Justifications for "Honor" Killings  So‐called honor crimes occur in societies in which there is interplay between discriminatory tribal  traditions of justice and statutory law. In some countries this is exacerbated by inclusion of Shari'a, or  Islamic law, or the concept of zina (sex outside of marriage) as a crime within statutory law. Due to  women's enforced seclusion, submission to men and second‐class citizenship, women seldom know  their rights under national or international law, and rarely have a chance to defend themselves in a  court of law. Local law enforcement officials often turn a blind eye or fail to enforce significant  punishments for the murder of women. In Pakistan, for example, a woman may be imprisoned if  convicted of zina. In the parallel tribal justice systems of Pakistan, a woman may be killed for actual or  suspected sex outside of marriage. Police and members of the public may help the killer's family cover  up the murder by refusing to register it as a crime, or by delaying long enough to allow the killer to  escape the vicinity. For example, under both Jordanian and Pakistani law, women are expected to meet  impossible requirements for "corroborating evidence" in order to prove allegations of rape. Even if a  woman meets these requirements, evidence of previous sexual activity may be admitted in proceedings  and lead to her being charged with zina. In both Jordan and Pakistan, any form of perceived  "immorality," whether adultery or rape, is considered a way of dishonoring the family and may lead to  "honor" related violence.  Communal Aspect of "Honor" Killings  So‐called honor killings are part of a community mentality. Large sections of society share traditional  conceptions of family honor and approve of "honor" killings to preserve that honor. Even mothers  whose daughters have been killed in the name of honor often condone such violent acts. Such  complicity by other women in the family and the community strengthens the concept of women as  property without personal worth. In addition, communal acceptance of "honor" killings furthers the  claim that violence in the name of "honor" is a private issue and one to be avoided by law enforcement.  Community acceptance of these killings stifles accurate reporting of the number of violent crimes  against women in the name of "honor." As a result, the true extent of the prevalence of "honor" killings  is still not fully known.  "It is an unholy alliance that works against women: the killers take pride in what they have done, the  tribal leaders condone the act and protect the killers and the police connive the cover‐up." Nighat  Taufeeq of the women's resource center Shirkatgah (Lahore, Pakistan).  The murder of women in the name of "honor" is a gender‐specific form of discrimination and violence. In  societies where so‐called honor killings are allowed to occur, governments are failing in their  responsibility to protect and ensure women their human rights. "Honor" killings should be regarded as  part of a larger spectrum of violence against women, as well as a serious human rights violation.  Amnesty International calls on you to help bring an end to "honor" killings, and to demand that  governments take steps to ensure that women and men enjoy equal treatment under law.   

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