Honor Killing and Honor Crime involves violence against women and girls including such acts as beating, battering, and killing by a family member or members of a family who believe that the woman has brought dishonor upon the family. A woman is usually targeted for refusing to go along with an arranged marriage, being the victim of a sexual assault, seeking a divorce (even from an abusive husband), or committing adultery or fornication.
These sexual indiscretions can range from something as simple as talking to a man without permission to falling victim to rape. This so-called loss of a woman's honor is believed to particularly shame her male relatives since women embody the honor of men whose property they are said to be. The male feels no shame or remorse for committing the act of murder because he has convinced himself that killing his sister or his daughter deserved it. The traditional wisdom is that an unchaste woman deserves to die.
Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of women are murdered by family members each year in the name of honor. It's difficult to get exact numbers on the phenomenon because most of the murders go unreported, the perpetrators unpunished, and the concept of family honor justifies the act in the eyes of some societies.
In Honor Killings known as karo-kari, women have been shot, burned to death, or hacked into pieces. There is also a gruesome tradition in some cultures when brothers kill their sisters to salvage the family's honor. For example, in Amman, Jordan, a man stabbed his older sister to death for disgracing the family with her sexual promiscuity. Another Jordanian man stabbed his sister 25 times because she married an Egyptian against her family's wishes; she was 8 months pregnant at the time. This week, a 14 year old Pakistanian girl was allegedly killed by her family for refusing to marry a man they proposed, and in Jaipur, a man slashed his sister's throat because she had an extra-marital affair. On November 2, 2009,
Noor Faleh Almaleki was murdered in Arizona by her own father, Faleh Almaleki, because she was too Westernized. Noor died from the injuries she received when her father brutally mowed her down with his car.
Honor Killings are not exclusively a Muslim phenomenom; in fact, they are found all over Europe and even here in the United States...although not as in Muslim countries. UNICEF has reported that in India, more than 5,000 brides are killed annually because their marriage dowries are considered insufficient.
There is nothing in the Koran, the book of basic Islamic teachings, that permits or sanctions honor killings. However, the view of women as property with no rights of their own is deeply rooted in Islamic culture.--Tahira Shahid Khan, a professor specializing in Women's issues at the Aga Khan University in Pakistan