Lesson Series 35: The Practice of Honour Killings

The Issue

Violence against women is an unfortunate but common human rights violation, particularly in South Asia. The practice of honour killings is a particularly atrocious form of such violence against women. These killings have been reported in Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Pakistan, as well as other parts of Asia and the Middle East. The practice of such killings violates many fundamental human rights, such as the right to life, to due process, to be presumed innocent until proven guilty. In some instances, honour killings take the life of men and children as well, not just women.

Honour killings have a long history steeped in traditional forms of justice with no relation to the effective rule of law. In Pakistan, the practice of honour killings is linked to the traditional system of jirga or panchayat rule. These tribal councils act as parallel legal systems within the country and not only prevent the abolition of honour killings, but actively encourage them.

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