Honor killings and honor violence are still common practices in patriarchal societies. The practice involves an act of violence, usually murder, perpetrated against a woman by a male family member as punishment for bringing “dishonor” to the family. Behaviors that bring dishonor almost always relate to the woman’s sexual activity or relationship: sex outside of marriage, seeking a divorce, refusing an arranged marriage and being a victim of rape. These are all actions that supposedly justify honor killings because of the shame they bring to the family. Though archaic and cruel, honor killings happen all the time. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) estimates that, in 2017, intimate partners or family members killed roughly 50,000 women, many of them victims of honor killings. Several books hope to raise awareness about honor killings in order to reduce the occurrence and bring about change.
“I Should Have Honor: A Memoir of Hope and Pride in Pakistan”
This memoir by Khalida Brohi reflects on honor violence and related systems Brohi witnessed growing up in Pakistan. Her mother was an arranged marriage child bride. Brohi was nearly subject to a similar fate. Brohi was part of an arranged marriage before she was even born. Her father refused to let her become a child bride because he believed in education. The honor killing of her cousin by her uncle prompted her journey to helping women become empowered. Brohi’s uncle murdered her cousin for being in love with a man she was not married to. Brohi tells this story in her memoir and the story of her subsequent activism: empowering women and educating men on how and why these systems must undergo dismantling.
“Honor and Violence against Women in Iraqi Kurdistan”
Unlike Brohi’s deeply personal memoir, this book by Minoo Alinia focuses on applying an intersectional perspective to research concerning honor violence in Kurdistan. Alinia analyzes cultural notions of masculinity and the individual actions that stem from it. This text offers a socio-political perspective and participates in a larger conversation about global gender studies and how colonial history, religion and poverty have an influence. Though less personal, the researched approach to a subject as urgent as honor violence is vital to change advocacy. Alinia attempts to understand the origin of the practice in this region in order to create a cultural conversation about eliminating the practice.
“Inside an Honor Killing: A Father and a Daughter Tell Their Story”
In this book, Lene Wold brings a journalist’s perspective to the subject of honor killings, particularly in Jordan. Wold chose to immerse herself: she spent years in Jordan documenting as many stories as she could. While she witnessed the gender and socioeconomic dynamics of daily life firsthand, she interviewed young women, village elders and men who had murdered a female family member in the name of honor. This book uniquely presents not only the victim’s perspective but the perpetrator’s. It is central to the advocacy surrounding honor violence because it tries to share every side of the story, allowing for the most holistic education and understanding.
This novel by O.Z. Livaneli is unique because, unlike the others, it is fictional. Livaneli tells the story of a character who experiences rape by her uncle before his son arranges for her death as her rape has dishonored the family. The fictional story set in Turkey hopes to reflect the experiences of Turkish women and families. The most important aspect of this story is the overwhelming hopefulness it conveys. Education and understanding are essential to advocacy but so is hope. Livaneli’s novel brings hope as well as awareness to the issue of honor killings.
By bringing awareness to the issue of honor killings, these writers hope to reduce its occurrence and inspire advocacy and change.
– Samantha Silveira