Honor killing is the practice wherein a male member of the family kills a female relative due to suspicion of her disgracing the family.

The concept is not found in any single religion, but rather is rooted in cultural mindsets. Much of the recent focus has been on the Middle East. This is probably due to the growing knowledge of the persecution of women in some areas, especially in Afghanistan under the Taliban. The fact that some Mid Eastern countries have integrated these concepts does not help any further. Article 341 of Jordanian law considers murder a legitimate act of defense when "the act of killing another or harming another was committed as an act in defense of his life, or his honor, or somebody else's life or honor." The fomer attorney general of the Palestinian National Authority, Khaled Al-Qudra, decapitated his daughter a week after she eloped in 1997.

  • Authorities estimate that honor killings account for two thirds of the homicides in the West Bank and Gaza.
  • Over one thousand honor killings are thought to have taken place in Pakistan in 1999.
  • Over 400 honor killings were reported in Yemen in 1999.
  • "Disgracing" one's family includes, and is not limited to: marrying a man of which her parents have not approved; being raped (because it was her fault); trying to file for divorce or leave an abusive marriage; not consenting to her family's demands; being suspected of immodest activity.
  • Male relatives who commit an honor killing are looked upon as heroes who are preserving the family and rarely are held accountable by local law.

Honor killings are not endemic only to the Fertile Crescent. Similar incidents have occured in South Asia, India, Africa, and South America.

A variation of the honor killing, the acid attack, is on the rise, with reports even coming from America. A male relative of the family or of the family of her suitor will throw acid on the face of the woman in question or on younger female relatives as an act of honor and revenge. Even jealous suitors have been reported to commit these disfiguring attacks.

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