Current Issues Stigmatization of Rape & Honor Killings

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Current Issues: Stigmitization of Rape & Honor Killings

Multan, Pakistan. 2003. Women hold a rally to protest an honor killing where a man allegedly strangled his 23-year-old daughter for defying tradition by choosing her own husband. Photo credit: Khalid Tanveer/AP Images.

Even though international and legal agencies have required countries to take appropriate steps to end violence against women such as in the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), violence against women and girls is still a significant issue that needs to be addressed with all available resources.1 According to the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), one in five women worldwide will become a victim of rape or attempted rape in her lifetime.2 Islam takes a firm stance, which states that rape is haram, or forbidden, and carries a strong and deterring punishment. Sheikh Ahmad Kutty, senior lecturer scholar at the Islamic Institute of Toronto, Ontario, Canada states: “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.”3

In many Muslim societies, women are often held responsible and stigmatized for the violence against them. Rape continues to remain a taboo subject and in some cases women will face discrimination instead of the recognition and vital assistance they need after being abused. Some rape victims are murdered by relatives because the violation of a woman’s chastity is viewed as an attack to their family’s honor. Almost 50 percent of women in a study of female deaths in Alexandria, Egypt were killed by a relative after being raped.4 In a number of countries a rapist can go free under the penal code if he proposes to marry the victim.5 The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) estimates that the annual worldwide number of honor killing victims may be as high as 5,000 women.6 Even female relatives frequently support honor attacks as they 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 take their own lives, in what is known as “honor suicides,” due to mounting family pressure and fear.

According to a 2002 report by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women, honor killings take place in Pakistan, Turkey, Jordan, Syria, Egypt, Lebanon, Iran, Yemen, Morocco and other Mediterranean and Gulf countries.7 It also occurs in countries such as Germany, France and the United Kingdom within immigrant communities. Honor killings are not only practiced in Muslim-majority societies.8 Dowry deaths in India and crime passions in Latin America are similar acts of violence by male family members who target women because of a perceived loss of family honor and which are accepted in some communities.

[1] UN Women: Facts and Figures on VAW
[2] State of World Population 2005. The Promise of Equality: Gender Equity, Reproductive Health and the Millennium Development Goals. UNFPA. 2005. 65.
[3] Islamonline.net/fatwa
[4] Krug et al. 2002. World Report on Violence and Health. Geneva: WHO. 93.
[5] Radhika Coomeraswamy. Integration of the Human Rights of Women and the Gender Perspective: Violence against Women. Report of the Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences. Cultural practices in the family that are violent towards women. E/CN.4/2002/93. 31 January 2002. 19.
[6] UNFPA. 2000. The state of the World Population.
[7] Radhika Coomeraswamy. Integration of the Human Rights of Women and the Gender Perspective: Violence against Women. Report of the Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences. Cultural practices in the family that are violent towards women. E/CN.4/2002/93. 31 January 2002. 12.
[8] Radhika Coomeraswamy. Integration of the Human Rights of Women and the Gender Perspective: Violence against Women. Report of the Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences. Cultural practices in the family that are violent towards women. E/CN.4/2002/93. 31 January 2002. 12.

Related Current Issues

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Organizations Active on this Issue

Women for Women’s Human Rights

Women Living Under Muslim Law

Equality Now

Apne Aap

HarassMap

Newspaper/Magazine Articles

State of World Population 2005. The Promise of Equality: Gender Equity, Reproductive Health and the Millennium Development Goals. UNFPA. 2005. 65.

Krug et al. 2002. World Report on Violence and Health. Geneva: WHO. 93

Radhika Coomeraswamy. Integration of the Human Rights of Women and the Gender Perspective: Violence against Women. Report of the Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences. Cultural practices in the family that are violent towards women. E/CN.4/2002/93. 31 January 2002. 19.

Scholarly Articles

Ahmetbeyzade,. "Gendering Necropolitics: The Juridical-Political Sociality of Honor Killings in Turkey." Journal of Human Rights 7.3 (2008): 187-206.

NasruIIah, Muazzam, Sobia Haqqi, and Kristin J. Cummings. "The epidemiological patterns of honour killing of women in Pakistan." European Journal of Public Health 19.2 (2009): 193-197.

Meetoo, Veena, and Heidi Safia Mirza. "“There is nothing ‘honorable’ about honour killings”: Gender, violence and the limits of multiculturalism." Women's Studies International Forum 30.3 (2007): 187-200.

Baxi, Pratiksha, Shirin M Rai, and Shaheen Sardar Ali. "Legacies of common law: ‘crimes of honour’ in India and Pakistan." Third World Quarterly 27.7 (2006): 1239-1253.

Stephanie Chaban. Journal of International Women's Studies. Velvet Jihad: Muslim Women's Quiet Resistance to Islamic Fundamentalism. Bridgewater: Nov 2009. Vol. 11, Iss. 1; p. 336 (4 pages)

Karen Engle. The American Journal of International Law. Feminism and its (Dis)Contents: Criminalizing Wartime Rape in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Washington: Oct 2005. Vol. 99, Iss. 4; pg. 778, 39 pgs

Jamal, Amina (REVIEWER), Ilkkaracan, Pinar (EDITOR). Resources for Feminist Research. Women and Sexuality in Muslim Societies. Toronto: 2004. Vol. 31, Iss. 1/2; pg. 56

Ahmar, Tasneem, "Covering Crime: How Pakistani Media Reports on Rape Cases," Uks Research Center, (2010).

Relevant Books

Nicholas D. Kristof & Sheryl Wudunn. Half the Sky: “Turning Oppression into Opportunity Worldwide.”, Vintage Books, 2009.

Rana, Husseini. “The Murder in the Name of Honor.”, Oneworld Publications, 2009.

Mukhatar, Mai. “In the Name of Honor: A Memoir”., Washington Square Press, 2006

Akbar, S. Ahmed. “ Islam Under Siege: Living Dangerously in a Post Honor World.”, Polity Press, 2003.

Laws

Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women (1993)

Fourth World Conference on Women [FWCW]: Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action (1995)

World Conference on Human Rights: Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action (1993)

WISE Women Active on Issue

Raja Rantisi Hamayel