Honour killings: A global phenomenon
Even as the Government is contemplating bringing in a new law to deal with the spurt in honour killings, reports by human rights organisations show that cold-blooded murders in the name of saving family pride had been prevalent in many parts of the world.delhi Updated: Jul 11, 2010 10:27 IST
Even as the Government is contemplating bringing in a new law to deal with the spurt in honour killings, reports by human rights organisations show that cold-blooded murders in the name of saving family pride had been prevalent in many parts of the world.
Honour killings have been rampant in orthodox and socially backward groups in many countries including India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Turkey, Jordan and the Palestinian Territories, they say.
While statistics are hard to come by due to non-reporting of such crimes, United Nations Population Fund approximates that as many as 5,000 women are murdered in this manner each year around the world.
But this is undoubtedly a low estimate, as reports from many countries are filtered and not brought to public notice.
According to Amnesty International, honour killings are the most widespread in Pakistan. A recent report by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) states that 647 women were killed in the name of "honour" in 2009 -- up by 13 per cent from 2008 when 574 such killings were reported.
"An honour killing is carried out because the honour of men in the family is perceived to have been injured," I A Rehman, secretary-general of HRCP, was quoted as saying.
"This is basically a consequence of the low status of women in society," Rehman said.
Such crimes are committed for a wide range of "offences" -- marital infidelity, pre-marital sex, flirting, or even failing to serve a meal on time that can be perceived as impugning the family honour.
In one such case, a husband murdered his wife based on a dream that she had betrayed him, according to the Amnesty International. In Turkey, a young woman's throat was slit in the town square because a love ballad had been dedicated to her over the radio.
A June 2008 report by Turkey's Human Rights Directorate says that in Istanbul alone, there is one honour killing every week and over 1,000 were killed during the last five years.
In the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, it is believed that three-four women are killed every month in the name of saving honour. The Palestinian Authority follows the Jordanian law, which gives men reduced punishment for killing wives or female relatives if they have brought dishonour to the family.
Similarly, Article 548 of Syria's Penal Code states that if a person catches his wife or sister "committing adultery (called flagrante delicto) or illegitimate sexual acts with another and if he kills or injures one or both of them", he should benefit from a reduced penalty which should not be less than two years in prison.