Skip to Main Content

Honor Killing

Provides print and electronic resources on the topic of honor killing.

About Honor Killing

To combat the epidemic of honor killings requires an understanding of what makes these murders unique. They differ from plain and psychopathic homicides, serial killings, crimes of passion, revenge killings, and domestic violence. Their motivation is different and based on codes of morality and behavior that typify some cultures, often reinforced by fundamentalist religious dictates. In 2000, the United Nations [U.N.] estimated that there are 5,000 honor killings every year. That number might be reasonable for Pakistan alone, but worldwide the numbers are much greater. In 2002 and again in 2004, the U.N. brought a resolution to end honor killings and other honor-related crimes. In 2004, at a meeting in The Hague about the rising tide of honor killings in Europe, law enforcement officers from the U.K. [United Kingdom] announced plans to begin reopening old cases to see if certain murders were, indeed, honor murders. The number of honor killings is routinely underestimated, and most estimates are little more than guesses that vary widely. Definitive or reliable worldwide estimates of honor killing incidence do not exist. (Opposing Viewpoints)

Narrow the Topic

  • What constitutes an immoral or shameful act that results in an honor killing?
  • Do accused women have an opportunity to face their accusers and/or defend  themselves?
  • How are the men or family members that commit the murders treated?
  • Is this practice based on religious doctrine or tribal customs or both?
  • Is the concept of women’s rights culturally relevant to deeply patriarchal societies?
  • Research a person whose death was attributed to an honor killing. Discuss and analyze the details of the case?
  • What efforts are being made to combat honor killings?  How successful have these efforts been?
  • How do U.S. and Western European countries deal with honor killings?