Friday, October 27, 2006

The What and Why of "Honor" Killings

Last week I wrote about Kaihana Hussain who was the victim of an attempted honor killing. Whatever happened in that apartment, she escaped and her mother died of multiple stab wounds. As badly as I wanted to follow up on this story, that has proven impossible due to an apparent news blackout. Fellow concerned blogger, Bos’un, had contacted many potential sources for additional information but to no avail.

Unfortunately, “honor” killings are not all that uncommon. The UN Commission on Human Rights published a report in January 2002 on “Integration of the Human Rights of Women and the Gender Perspective” in which they dealt with so-called “honor” killings.

The Commission stated that “honor” killings have occurred primarily in Pakistan, Turkey, Jordan, Syria, Egypt, Lebanon, Iran, Yemen, Morocco, and other Mediterranean and Gulf countries. But such killings are not limited to these nations. There have been such murders in other countries such as Germany, France, and the United Kingdom amongst their immigrant populations.

No one knows for sure how many “honor” killings occur per year because they are covered up as private family matters and attributed to natural causes. “Every year more than 1000 women are killed in the name of honour in Pakistan alone.” In 1997, the Attorney-General in Palestine said that he believed 70% of the murders in Gaza and the West Bank were actually honor killings.

Typically, the victim in an honor killing is female and the murderer a close male relative such as a brother or husband or father. To reduce punishment, the family will depend on an under-aged male to kill the female. Punishment is usually minimal for such murderers. “The act is regarded as a rite of passage into manhood.” If the male does go to jail, fellow inmates will hail him as a “complete” man and will wash his feet.

Honor in these patriarchal societies is paramount. Unfortunately, honor usually comes down to a desire to control the freedom and sexuality of female relatives. Or as a crude Arabic expression states: “a man’s honour lies between the legs of a woman”. Clearly, “women are seen as the property of men and they have to be obedient and passive,” and the maintenance of the family’s honor is considered the woman’s responsibility.

“As the perception of what constitutes honour and what damages it widens,” the number of killings in the name of honor increases. Not only do men seek to control the sexuality of their female relatives but their behavior and their language as well. Some common reasons for performing an “honor” murder include “illicit” relationships, marrying or expressing a desire to marry a man of her own choice, divorcing an abusive spouse, or being a rape victim. Yes, for the misfortune of being raped, the girl or woman can then be murdered by her family. Still other reasons for honor murders include “bringing food late, answering back, [or] undertaking forbidden family visits.” One well known case in Turkey involved a teenage girl who had dishonored her family because a love ballad had been dedicated to her over the radio. They slit her throat in the town square. Sometimes men will even fake “honor” murders to cover for their crimes. A man who has killed another man may kill a woman of his family, charging her with impropriety with the man he had murdered. In such a manner, many a man has gotten off scot- free.

Women are also heavily pressured to commit suicide for reasons of honor. Most of the time, they will obey. The fear of a life of dishonor is strong. There was even a case in New Jersey a few years ago in which a girl had been raped by her brother so the mother bought her razor blades so she could kill herself and encouraged her to do so.

“Women who escape honour killings are often in a terrible situation, living in constant fear of their lives.” Women are sometimes kept in jail for their own protection. They can live there for years. As noted previously, the situation in prison may not be any safer for women, either.

“Honor” murders remain a serious issue around the world. It appears little has changed since the U.N. Commission on Human Rights reported on this matter. Women in these predominantly Muslim lands have sunk to the level of chattel. How we will lift them up, no one knows.

Note: All quotes are from the UN Commission report (same as linked to above)

UPDATE: The first paragraph appears to be in error. The most recent news reports indicate that Kaihana Hussein was not the victim but the perpetrator! She has been arrested for the murder of her mother and attempted murder of her father. According to the most recent news (as of 11/8/06), she was angry with them over a boyfriend of whom they disapproved. She attacked them, concocted the story of her conversion, and then told police that she was the intended victim of an honor killing to get away with her own crimes.


At 11/05/2006 1:35 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Sorry to disapoint you but Kaihana Hussain was not a "victim" of an honor killing. She killed her mother and stabbed her father after she came back from overseas. Her parents were quite angry with her after she married her heroin addict boyfriend and ran away to sydney (illegally, whilst she was still 16). After her parents forced her to move to the Gold Coast and sent her boyfrind to jail she was quite resentful to say the least. I hope you will think twice before jumping to conclusions about ones religion as there is NO ritual or honor killing in Islam. Killing is the greatest sin. to quote the Holy Qúrán Upon you is your own religion, and mine in upon me.
I hope this has cleared some things for you. PS she has not converted.

At 11/05/2006 4:00 PM, Blogger Nick and Nora Charles said...

Sorry Anonymous, you are talking through your hat (to be polite).

I spoke to one of the police at the scene and the husband of one of the emergency medical staff at the hospital where the husband was taken.

That this young woman was attacked by her parents is not in dispute. The family's decision to move from Adelaide to the Gold Coast was based on the husband securing a position as a doctor.

This young woman had her clothes torn off her and she had defensive wounds.

But Anonymous, I shouldn't be surprised at your comments, telling lies for your religion is condoned under the principle of Taqiyya.

-- Nora

At 11/06/2006 7:41 AM, Blogger Irfan said...


Can you please provide evidence from mainstream sources of Islamic law that discuss what you describe as 'taqiyya'?

Further, how do you explain the fact that police are yet to lay charges and have not reached any firm conclusion on the motice for the killing?

Finally, you claim that you spoke to one of the police on the scene and the husband of one of the hospital staff. How does that prove that this was a case of honour killing?

At 11/08/2006 9:27 PM, Blogger LittleBat said...

I spoke to one of the police at the scene and the husband of one of the emergency medical staff at the hospital where the husband was taken.

That this young woman was attacked by her parents is not in dispute.

Nora - why must you lie?

Obviously, it is important to you to keep up the anti-Islam speech, but please note, this girl is now on trial for murder.

All the evidence indicates that this girl, universally praised for her 'wish to convert to Christianity' brutally killed her mother and also tried to stab her father to death.

At 11/10/2006 9:12 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

How sad that you've managed to kick yourself in the groin because of your lies. Eitehr you, or your 'trusty sources' which includes a police officer are liars - and I'm willing to guess who it is.
Congrats, you've lost yourself and your 'cause' all credibility.

At 11/12/2006 11:33 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

To all of you above; Who are going on about this. FIRST of all; im a FRIEND almost like a sister of Kaihana.. Katz.. You both are going on with all this media rubbish; YES its true her parents attacked her; NO she didnt attack them because of anything.. Justice does not happen because of ones testimony.. It happens through Many investigations; Proofs; And evidences. WHICH at the moment; CORRECTLY speaking there isnt much. YES she is in jail but thats understandable.. Dont think Police would risk having a murder suspect living the free life. This all did happen because of the ongoing dispute of Katz converting to christianity.. But maybe if you guys knew about her past with her family; you wouldnt think of it so much as her fault. I myself AM a muslim. And no; Before you go on about how islam is a bad religion; tells people to kill one another; GO READ THE QURAAN. Honestly; We dont sit here and say that the bible tells you guys to murder people; ... So before all of you go on; Accuse an Innocent person.. EVEN IF THEY ARNT INNOCENT.. Before you accuse someone of something so low, PLEASE find out the truth; and then make your accusations.

Sincerely; Sammiie

At 11/12/2006 11:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Some of you people who think you know all about this case, I'm laughing at you. Especially the first person who commented. You are way off. I agree with Sammiie, you guys are just believing the stupid crap the media is saying. Her father said she attacked them. SAID. Do they have any proof? No. Not at all. Does that mean she did it? Nope. But people arrested her anyway to be cautious. All I have to say is that her father is lying. I don't know Katz personally, but I know people who know her. Okay, so don't believe me. Like I give a care what you people who think you know the case think. Don't you people know the media lies? Jeez.

xx Rini. (:

At 11/13/2006 7:42 AM, Blogger Anna Venger said...


Thank you for weighing in especially if you have first hand info regarding this case.

I want badly to understand what happened. The conflicting stories are very confusing. I don't know what to think anymore, but I do want to know the truth.

Please all of you, continue the discussion. Some of it has been a bit nastier than normal for this site. This is a very emotional issue. It is emotional for me also because the suffering of women is so sickening to me. Try not to write something that I will have no choice but to delete. I'm not in the practice of deleting comments and I don't want to now.

So, please, continue to bring additional information with links as much as possible because those of you in Australia or from her hometown will see and hear things that I probably will not in this area of the world without your help.

At 11/14/2006 12:52 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Once again, Like rini and i both said, The media lies; I myself know her first hand personally, and i know katz would never do this, she was under alot of pressure from her family, they were a really strict family, using force to get there way, and katz was one of the most sweet, sensitive and caring human beings i have ever met. Ive been through alot, and all along she was there right by my side for me.. i Honestly can say with 100% assurance, and ALL of you who are against her will also see.. That sooner or later, Kaihana WILL be proved innocent. :) I LOVE YOU GIRL, AN I MISS YOU.


At 11/15/2006 2:42 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

so shes innocent???
we saw her the night before it happened at the mosque. We only talked for like a second there about school and stuff. She told me she was really tired from jet lag & hanging our with her friends becasue it was her birthday four days ago. Sammiie can you add me on msn @ i really want to know more about her.


At 11/15/2006 4:33 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


At 11/15/2006 7:30 PM, Anonymous Djamila said...

Okay Anonymous, I understand the offense taken atyour religion being attacked, of which i believe is completely unfair, and where as Islam does not say anything about honor killings, you must admit the fact that this is a phenom against women is mainly seen in fundamentalist practicers of Islam. Its the same case when people use the Bible for beating the crap out of their "disobediant" wives, or being anti-semitists because apparantly the "Jews" killed Jesus. There are just so many cases such as young 16 year old having her throat slit by her father after learning she had a crush on a guy in London, or in Berlin, a young woman who escaped an abusive marrige with her son and was shot to death by her brother, the common link between these cases sadly enough was the fact that these were women who belonged to heavily practicing Islamic families. Is it not possible to believe that some people misinterpret the Koran in order to follow through on such horrible acts in order to remove their guilt? Not saying that some people who call themselves Christians are exempt either of such acts either, all of the "honor" crimes in the American south against African-Americans and other Minorites through rapes and lynchings were all justified by using the Bible sadly enough....isn't it possible some Muslims can be just as twisted and misconstrue their holy book for their own gain?

At 11/15/2006 7:32 PM, Anonymous Djamila said...

Oh yeah, its for the very first anonymous at the start of the comments....sorry to the others:)

At 11/19/2006 6:24 AM, Anonymous Kitty said...

According to forensic analysis, the father's injuries (which the daughter claimed were due to a suicide attempt) are unlikely to have been self-inflicted. See:,21598,20773516-948,00.html

At 11/19/2006 8:28 AM, Blogger Anna Venger said...

Wow. That was an interesting link. Thanks for the update. I truly appreciate all the discussion and especially updates with links.

At 2/02/2010 2:40 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Seems there is evidence she had planned to kill her parents. I wonder how she feels about it now. If she didn't want to live by their rules she could have left home instead of killing her own mother.


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