Honor killings are the most extreme form of honor violence. While the global numbers are estimated at 5,000 women and girls who are victims of honor killings each year, there are millions of women and girls worldwide and thousands in the US who are subject to violence and abuse in an attempt to control their sexuality and protect their family’s and/or community’s “honor.” The vast majority of honor violence crimes are not detected nor reported, leaving the victims to suffer in isolation and feel they are on their own and devoid of options.
While there is work to be done in capturing information about honor violence in the US and despite the fact that it is often categorized as domestic violence or child abuse, cases have been recorded. Honor violence may decrease over time as we work to improve the integration of new immigrants, however it remains that some communities are isolated, and continue to maintain traditional gender roles and male-dominated family structures.
For many victims and survivors, reporting honor violence means taking a stand against their families and communities. This is incredibly difficult, and may lead to retribution and an escalation of abuse. Unfortunately, not all frontline service providers such as law enforcement, domestic violence professionals, health providers, and school administrators have received training to recognize honor violence and respond appropriately. An inappropriate response may mean putting a victim or survivor at even more risk.
The most common survivors and victims of honor violence are women and girls but that doesn’t mean that other groups are not at risk. Heterosexual men may be accused of“dishonoring” a woman or girl, in which case both may be subject to honor violence, or men suspected of homosexuality or non-conforming gender identities may be subject to honor violence from their own families and communities.
Ending honor violence will not be fast and it will not be easy. It requires a comprehensive approach and time for social change: ensuring legislation is in place to protect those at risk, training frontline service providers, teachers, and judges, empowering women and girls at risk by giving them the information and services they need, and addressing the gender norms and attitudes that place so much emphasis on controlling the sexuality of women and girls.
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What surprised you on this list? If you are engaged in preventing and ending honor violence, what would you put on this list?