Honor Killing: An Ancient Crime that has traveled from East to West

Unraveling some horrific tales of Honor killing

The term honor killing refers to killing of a woman by her own family members such as fathers, brother, husbands or uncles for committing some perceived dishonor. In Pakistan alone over one thousand women are killed every year for bringing dishonor to their families. One Such example is Qandeel Baloch who came into the limelight as Pakistan’s biggest social media sensation. Qandeel‘s younger brother Wasim received insults from the local community owing to the his sisters inappropriate videos that had taken the social media by storm. After having a controversy stirred up with an honorable cleric Qandeel began receiving death threats from all quarters therefore she resorted to her family. On the fateful night of 15 July 2016 Qandeel sat down with her parents and younger brother Wasim for their final family dinner. Later Wasim poured down four glasses of milk for himself his parents and for his sister Qandeel and put sedative into three of the glasses. At 11.30 Wasim entered his sister’s bedroom and strangled her to death. Next morning Qandeel’s mother found her dead covered in Wasim’s white shawl.

It is obvious that modern means of transportation especially airplanes have made the world smaller and it is therefore easy to get around. However with large influx of immigrant communities in Western world from Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Middle East and North Africa honor killing has become a global issue. People living in Asia, Africa and Middle East at times seek asylum to America and Europe for a safer life ironically some immigrant women are not even safe in their own homes. Unfortunately honor killing is on a rise in Europe. Honor killings have caused such concern in the past some years that European police began opening murder files across European Union.

Shafilia Ahmad a British Pakistani girl wanted to be a lawyer and rejected her parent’s choice of a Pakistani husband. Shafilia’s was often beaten by her parents and one day a plastic bag was forced down her throat by her parents. The siblings were made to watch this brutal murder in the name of honor as a warning that family’s honor was of paramount importance. Later Shafilia’s body was found in a river and her parents gave a tearful pretense. However the mystery surrounding Shafilia’s death was revealed by one of her sisters many years later as she provided evidence of her parent’s conspiracy against Shafilia.

A Pakistani girl Sandeela living in Atlanta United States was killed by her father in the name of honor as she had filed a divorce case against her husband. Sandeela traveled with her family back to Punjab as her marriage was arranged with one of her cousins. Her new husband had to stay behind in Pakistan as he did not have the permission to enter the United States. Six years later Sandeela’s husband moved to the US and began living with his wife in Georgia. By that time Saneedla had changed and eventually filed a divorce against her husband. The Idea of divorce was unacceptable to Sandeela’s father Rasheed who one night picked her daughter from work to home and strangled her with a bungee cord.

The above narrated horrific stories are a clear prove that violence against women has become a global problem. The UN estimates 5000 honor killings every year and quite often these crimes go unreported as the perpetrators are often fathers, brothers or husbands.  Furthermore some segments of our society believe that a woman’s life is worth far less than a man’s sense of shame. It is obvious that honor killing of women is a product of a radicalized mindset prevailing through centuries. Therefore some women trying to live a life of their own choice are at a high risk of honor killing by their own family members even in the Western world. Life is precious and every one must be given the right to live therefore killing women in the name of honor cannot be justified

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