Honor Killing... the Kiss of Death?!

It's hard to imagine that in the 21st century and in an age of globilzation and uprisings, women in certain societies are still the victims of what is known as honor killing.

The practice dates back to the era of the Assyrians, the Roman Empire and Ching Dynasty.

Today thousands of women are murdered each year in the name of family honor. It is difficult though to have an accurate record of honor killings for two reasons : a) many do not get reported and b) they are more often classified as domestic violence.

It is misleading, though, to imply that honor-based violence is limited to murder, where in fact the spectrum is much wider as it includes forced marriage, female genital mutilation (FGM) and forced abortion as well as other forms of physical abuse.

Many Americans might be under the impression that honor killing or crime of passion exist only overseas; this is far from the truth. These crimes are also committed in the name of family honor here in the US within diverse communities from the Middle East, Asia, Africa and Latin America. social service agencies and law enforcement personnel say that they deal with honor -based violence and killings particularly within immigrant communities.

But regardless of where these killings occur, the reasons are always common.

It could be marital infidelity, pre-marital sex, flirting or marrying a man against their families will.

These women's lives ended tragically because they chose to have their own way. Their way was the kiss of death.

Nothing justifies this heinous crime against a human being. Honor killings should be viewed in the larger context of violence against women. Indeed, it is an extension of violence against women.

It's mind-boggling and sad at the same time to know that females in the family and community are accomplices to the crime.

Such complicity enforces the perception of women in these cultures as a property of the male, alas a sexual commodity bought and sold.

In male dominant cultures, honor is strongly interpreted in the context of a female chastity.
It is a testament to the vulnerability of women in cultures that turn a blind eye to such practices.

Moreover, there are countries that do not have stringent penal codes that deters and prevents perpetrators of honor killings.

The perpetrators who commit crimes of passion are often treated with leniency .

This is the time to act. The practice must stop now.

Countries need to review their criminal codes for discrimination against women where murder of a wife is treated are leniently than a murder of a husband. Aren't they both human lives ?!
Governments that do not recognize domestic violence as a crime need to bring their penal codes up to international standards.

Violence against women must be addressed from a human rights based perspective.

Governments, civil society and international organizations must work together to eliminate violence against women and by extension end violence against women.

UN Women for Peace will be part of this fight to end violence against women in all its forms.

Rise up for a world free of violence against women. Join our rally and March on March 8.