Pell Center

The Pell Center for International Relations and Public Policy at Salve Regina is a multidisciplinary research center focused at the intersection of politics, policies and ideas.

Ancient Behaviors in Modern Day: Honor Killings Still Dominate Patriarchal Societies

Fifteen year old, Anusha became one of 943 reported honor killings that happen in Pakistan each year. Her family killed her by pouring acid all over her body which had already been wounded from a beating. The reason for such treatment was because she sullied her family’s name by looking at a boy passing by on a motorcycle.

Honor killings are frequent occurrences in Pakistan, as well as the Middle East and Southwest Asia at large. Families will murder their daughters, wives, sisters etc. in order to preserve the family name, and wash it clean of any shame that may have tarnished it. If a girl is caught having an affair, she will surely be killed; but even if she doesn’t cover up her face or hair, if she wears makeup, or has friends from another religion, she is prone to this abuse by her own kin.

The concept of honor killings does not derive from religion. It is a cultural phenomenon that is common in most patriarchal societies. Even in the 21st century, there are attitudes that still exist which believe that women are the property of the men, and they have no rights of their own. Women are a commodity; they can be bought, sold, and in Anusha’s case, killed. Luckily for her, for Anusha’s honor, her mother and father are in jail and are awaiting trial. But for all those women whose deaths go unheard of, remember them and be their voice.


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