''Honour'' killing - the end of the spiral of violence

If a girl or a woman brought “disgrace“ upon her family, her family will use every method to restore the family honour. In some cases they see only one solution: killing the person responsible for the loss of honour (murder in the name of honour =“honour“killing).

Men are often both victims and perpetrators in the case of an “honour“killing, as the family frequently chooses minor male family member to accomplish the crime. It also happens that a male family member feels obliged to “punish“ the woman/ the girl  in compliance with an agreement within the family, even though it was not expressively uttered. Often, they can not escape the pressure of the family. Women often participate in the preliminary stages, but the act of killing is mostly executed by men.

How many “honour“ killings are being committed?

According to the 2000 UN State of World Population report, at least 5000 people are victim of so-called honour-killings each year, most of them women. However, many killings are not registered as they are often disguised as an accident or suicide. Girls and women are also often driven to suicide. 14 countries took part in the UN survey; Germany was not one of them.

There are no official police statistics on “honour“ killings in Germany yet, since in Germany murders are not recorded according to motives. The Max-Planck-institution on foreign and international criminal law (by order of the German Federal Office of Criminal Investigation) conducted a survey on “honour“ killings in Germany which was published in August 2011. The survey was based on records of cases between 1996 and 2005. According to this survey, there are 12 “honour“ killings per year, which are registered by the legal system. In the 78 surveyed cases, there were 109 victims and 122 offenders. About two thirds of the victims were killed.

What is the worldwide legal situation?

In Germany, the motive for committing murder does not carry any weight. In some countries, however, such as Jordan or Pakistan, there are special laws, which grant a lower sentence or even complete exemption from punishment in cases of “honour“ killings. During the last years, the situation in Jordan changed in a positive way. For example, in 2009, a special tribunal within the criminal court was established, dealing only with crimes in the name of honour. Apart from that, the social acceptance decreased and the justice system often rejects giving lower sentences. However, in the Jordanian penal code, there is still the article 340: “Whoever catches his wife or a blood relative (...) engaging in acts of adultery with another man and kills, injures or wounds, her shall be exempt from punishment.” 

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