Stop the “Honor” Killing!

by YosefA on February 23, 2017 - 5:28pm

What is “Honor” Killing? (Definition)

According to Human Rights Watch, “Honor” Killing is an act of violence, usually a murder, which is committed by the man in the family against the woman that the family thought that she, the victim, brought dishonor upon the family. An example of "dishonored crimes," not marrying the arranged marriage, being a sexual assault victim, or seeking a divorce. Honor Killing can be seen in different countries and religions and not specified to one religion. The Human Rights Watch have seen different cases of “Honor” Killing in those countries America, Asia, the Middle East, and North Africa and more. Also, Human Right Watch have added that “Honor killing are a clear violation of women’s human right and that states and different countries are bound to protect women from such violation.” To conclude, Honor killing is a crime that is committed by the male from the family against a woman when she brings dishonor to the family, also, in some rare cases, a man can be killing in honor crime if he brings disgrace to the household.


“Honor” Killing in Canada

             As you might have known, Honor killing happened here no long ago in Canada. The article, “Alleged 'honour killings' in Canada,” written in 2011, described different cases and one of them was the Shafia Murders. In short, in 2009, Kingston, four females, which emigrated from Afghanistan, were found in a submerged car in the Rideau Canal near Kingstone. The victims were Zainab, 19 years old, Sahar, 17, and Geeti, 13, and Rona Mohammed, 50, the first wife of Mohammad Shafia. During the course of the trial, the court has found that the victims were killed in an honor killing because Sahar and Zainab were thought to have dishonored the family by having a boyfriend and living a modern life. In this case, the father, Mohammad Shafia, his wife, Tooba Yahya and their son, Hamed, were found guilty of first-degree murder and were sentenced to lifetime, 25 years in jail, without a possibility to have a parole. During the investigation, CBC News described that the police enforcement wiretapped the phone of the father and his wife, and the police have found that Shafia, the father, said "Curse God on both of them. Is that what a daughter should be? Would a daughter be such a whore?” which lead to the conclusion that this crime was an honor killing and during the trial, the judge called this crime a "despicable" and "heinous.”

            In addition, if we look a bit back in the Canadian timeline we can see more Honor killing that occurred in different places in Canada. If we think about it, Shafia Murders was not the first time that used Honor killing as an “excuse” to kill a female family member. In 2007 Muhammed Parvez and his son Waqas killed Aqsa Parvez because of an argument about wearing a traditional hijab. In another case, in 2006, 20 years old Khatera Sadiqi and her fiancé were shot and killed outside an Ottawa shopping plaza. Sadiqi brother was found guilty of the murder, and he told the court that all he wanted is that his sister respected her father.




“Honor” Killing in Afghanistan

            According to Rod Nordland, “Honor Killing” still occurs in Afghanistan although it is illegal. His article “In Spite of the Law, Afghan ‘Honor Killings’ of Women Continue,” written in 2014, describes a couple that had to run away and takes a shelter because they are scared for their lives. After been found by her Amina’s uncle, she agreed to go back home if they sign a paper that guarantees that she will not be harmed. Also, the brother and the uncle gave their vows that they will not harm her into a camera to the Ministry of Women’s Affairs in Baghlan Province. However, as soon as she left the shelter, Amina was ganged and killed by multiple gunmen, and her uncle and brother were safe and sound. During the investigation, the police blamed jilted fiancé’s family, but the women’s activists accused Amin’s family of the murder. Amina was not the first or the last to die because of honor killing, Rubina Hamdard, a lawyer at a coalition of women’s advocacy groups, the Afghan Women’s Network, “estimated that 150 cases of honor killing occur annually in Afghanistan.” Those victims and the numbers of victims make Honor killing an enormous crime that is being committed by family member even if the law says that they are not allowed to do so. Also, a lot of people in Afghanistan hide in shelters because they are scared for their lives and because they want to feel free and choose their choices.


“Honor” Killing in Pakistan

             In a country close to Afghanistan and has a law that forbids to use Honor Killing, Pakistan has seen a lot of cases of Honor killing. In 2015, Nick Faris mentioned in his article, more than 1100 victims were killed in an honor killing, 1096 of them were females, and 88 were males. The journalist also compared other years in his article “Man’s throat slit in male ‘honour killing’ in Pakistan, where women regularly die for angering their family,” in 2014, 1005 women killed and in 2013, 869 deaths were reported. This article, written in 2016, also talks about a male victim that was murdered in an honor killing. Muhammad Irshad, 43 years old man, was found in an open market with his throat sliced. When the body was discovered in the market, the police enforcement started a manhunt against the brother and the father of Irshad’s wife. The father and the brother committed the crime because they didn’t want him to marry their daughter/sister. The author also talks about other victims that died from Honor killing in Pakistan.

    Besides, Faris mentioned a movie/documentary that talks about Honor killing,    the documentary talks about how an 18 years old woman was shot by her father and brother and thrown into the river while been bagged. The name of the movie is “A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness” and it won an Oscar in February last year. Also, when the film was screened Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif have told the Guardian News that “Anyone who does this must be punished and punished very severely.” This show that even the prime minister of the country wants to change the laws and the way people act towered women or men that are targeted by the honor killing crime.


“Honor” Killing in India

            In India, a country that has a population of one billion people has shown a significant rise in the rate of Honor Killing. In 2014, only 28 cases were registered and reported; however, in 2015 the number jumped to 251 cases. These figures were published by Aljazeera in 2016 in the article, “India sees a huge spike in 'honour' killings.” This number reflects the issue of Honor killing, although the population in India is significant, it doesn’t mean that Honor killing should not be stopped and that the criminals should not be punished.



How can we change it in Canada and help others?

            So how do we prevent it from happening again in Canada or any other Country? During the trial of the Shafia Murders, the journalist was able to give all the details of the trial and what happened during and after the trial. The reporter were able to release all the details to the public, so the public will know what happened and how it happened. I think that they have released all of this information, so people will see that honor killing is real and that the punishment for honor killing is strict punishment. Also, countries should train their police enforcement and lawyer to react and know how to deal with honor killing like Britain have done. We can also see that other nations like Sweden have implemented different programs and countermeasures for honor killing after they had a horrible case of honor crime. To conclude, we should start small by implementing programs to our police enforcement, lawyer, and other government workers, so they will know how to deal with Honor Killing and how to prevent it. Afterward, we can switch to other country and try to help them by showing them that our programs work and they will implement it to themselves. To end, we should stop it no matter what!




First-degree murder – First degree murder defined by Dictionary of Legal Terms: Definitions and Explanations for Non-Lawyers is an unlawful killing that is deliberate and premeditated.

Parole – Parole defined by World of Criminal Justice, Gale is the conditional release from prison that allows the person to serve the remainder of the sentence outside of prison. A parolee must comply with the terms and conditions of the parole order and must report periodically to a parole officer.

Hijab – Hijab defined by The Macquarie Dictionary as the traditional Muslim headscarf worn by women, which covers the hair, neck and shoulders.


Work cited


Faris, Nick. "Man's throat slit in male 'honour killing' in Pakistan, where women regularly die for angering their family." National Post. N.p., 20 June 2016. Web. 22 Feb. 2017.

Freeze, Colin. "Canada looks for ways to prevent honour killings in wake of Shafia trial." The Globe and Mail. The Globe and Mail, 06 Sept. 2012. Web. 23 Feb. 2017.

"Item 12 - Integration of the human rights of women and the gender perspective: Violence Against Women and "Honor" Crimes (Human Rights Watch Press release, Geneva, April 6, 2001)." Item 12 - Integration of the human rights of women and the gender perspective: Violence Against Women and "Honor" Crimes (Human Rights Watch Press release, Geneva, April 6, 2001). N.p., n.d. Web. 22 Feb. 2017.

Jazeera, Al. "India sees huge spike in 'honour' killings." India News | Al Jazeera. Al Jazeera, 07 Dec. 2016. Web. 23 Feb. 2017.

News, CBC. "Alleged 'honour killings' in Canada." CBCnews. CBC/Radio Canada, 30 Jan. 2012. Web. 22 Feb. 2017.

Nordland, Rod. "In Spite of the Law, Afghan 'Honor Killings' of Women Continue." The New York Times. The New York Times, 03 May 2014. Web. 22 Feb. 2017.


First of all, very interesting article; You elaborate on the horrors of honour killings and do not just restrict your criticism to foreign countries, but also to the murder taking place in Canada itself. I also like your proposed solution of increased journalistic transparency. What I think you are expressing more abstractly is an ethical rationalist stance directly opposed to a relativist viewpoint. Indeed, honour killings are one of the most common examples cited against relativist ethics.
Relativism postulates that right and wrong can only be judged within the social mores of the time, place, and culture. Therefore, a relativist stance would refuse to denounce or take action against any honour killings because they belong to the social mores of a particular strain of culture.
By contrast, ethical rationalism clearly denounces honour killings as morally reprehensible. The main postulate of rationalism is that there are objective ethical rules that people can follow and that one must follow an ethical code, called a categorical imperative, to only do what is universally right. Honour killings clearly fail this categorical imperative, since murder in general is a terrible act. Your proposed solution to journalists to increase their transparency is also consistent with rationalist ethics, as people must tell the entire truth in every situation. There truly is no honour in killing.

While these stories of honour killings are not unheard of in the East, they are generally considered a fundamentally foreign concept, effectively barbarizing the Western perception of the Islamic faith. This article was therefore very interesting because it extended these happenings to the wealthier and more politically stable countries of the West, such as Canada, suggesting that the issue is not specific to a single culture, but is instead embedded in the cornerstones of global civilization.
While this post did a very good job of articulating this, it is also important to consider the core ideals common to different societies that allow people around the world to justify killing in order to conserve their pride. As was stated in the fifth paragraph, 1096 of the 1100+ victims of honour killings in 2015 in Pakistan were women, proving an undeniable link between these crimes and the ideals of the patriarchal world view that dominates most societies.
This concept of the patriarchy deals with the undisputed role of men as social, political, economic, religious, and familial leaders while women and men who cannot conform to the promoted type of masculinity (called hegemonic masculinity and defined by the man box) are meant to follow without argument.
The idea that men, as the head of the family, have the right to manipulate and harm others, specifically women and men who do not subscribe to traditional masculinity, intrinsic to the phenomenon of honour killings, is tightly linked to the subject/object dichotomy of the patriarchal world view, wherein followers are not people, but objects owned a dominant male. It is therefore vital that we go beyond individual punishment to fight against these heinous acts, and undo centuries of social conditioning so that our fundamental principles are no longer defined by violence and domination.

The man box:
Subject/Object dichotomy:

About the author

My name is Yosef Harel Ataev.
Right now i'm studying Criminology in College Champlain which located near Montreal.
Originally i'm from Israel and I immigrated to Canada in 2006 when I was 14 years old.