Bibliography on Crimes of Honour

Centre for Islamic and Middle Eastern Law (CIMEL) and the International Centre for the Legal Protection of Human Rights (INTERIGHTS)

This bibliography has been prepared under the auspices of the Project on Strategies of Response to Crimes of Honour’ a joint project between CIMEL (Centre Of Islamic and Middle Eastern Law) and INTERIGHTS (International Centre for the Legal Protection of Human Rights).  It includes annotations of published material from books and journals followed by case summaries.  Annotations of newspaper articles are to be included shortly.  The co-directors of the Project, Lynn Welchman, Director, CIMEL, and Sara Hossain, Legal Officer (South Asia), INTERIGHTS, would like to acknowledge the work of Samia Bano, researcher on the project, in producing this bibliography. We also thank the following people who have volunteered in preparing annotations and in suggesting further sources: Connie Hackbarth, Ana Paula Linhares, Anjolie Singh and Leyla Gulcur of the International Women’s Health Coalition (IWHC).  We would like to acknowledge Amnesty International for annotations of their reports on honour killings in Pakistan and to thank the IWHC for agreeing to place the bibliography on their website. 

This bibliography aims to assist those working to combat crimes of 'honour' and facilitate research and the development of strategies of response. To that purpose, we invite and would warmly welcome comments from users as to how it might be improved. We also request suggestions for additions to the bibliography, as it is clearly not exhaustive, and we intend to add further items at regular intervals to increase its usefulness as a tool for advocacy and research. We hope to expand the section on summaries of judgments very shortly. Any suggestions for additions to the bibliography (indicating where such materials might be located) should be sent to: ‘additions to bibliography’ as the subject title or by mail to CIMEL, SOAS, University of London, 47 Russell Square, London, WC1.

We should underline that the annotations are the work of the project, not of the cited authors of the various items. If any of the authors (or others) feel that we have misunderstood the substance of the piece, or perhaps missed out critical points, please do contact us at the email above with corrections and we will ensure that the annotation is amended accordingly.


1. General 

2. Regional

(a)  Americas                                                                                       

(b)  Europe

(c)  Middle East/North Africa                                                              

(d)  South Asia                                                                                    

3.  Case Summaries                                                                             

(a)  United Kingdom

(b) Pakistan

(c)  Bangladesh

1. General

An-Na’im, A. A., ‘State Responsibility under International Human Rights Law to Change Religious and Customary Laws’ in Cook, R. J., (ed.), Human Rights of Women: National and International Perspectives (University of Pennsylvania Press, 1993), 167-188.

International human rights mechanisms must be invoked to ensure that customary practices or religious laws do not violate the rights of minorities within communities.  The practice of some forms of Islamic family law, for example, may lead to the violation of women’s rights within certain Muslim communities.  However if real change is desired then the application of human rights mechanisms must work in conjunction with dialogue with and between communities.  Furthermore, the human rights discourse has adopted a ‘western’ approach whereby notions of ‘rights’ and ‘culture’ have been defined by the West creating what seems to be a ‘cultural legitimacy’ of human rights. A new approach to the relationship between local culture and human rights standards is outlined which seeks to open dialogues between international human rights standards and local communities as a way of changing certain oppressive traits of religious and customary laws and thus ensuring conformity with international law.

Coomaraswamy, R. and Kois, L., ‘Violence Against Women’ in Askin, K. D. and D. M. Koening (eds.), Women and International Human Rights Law, Volume 1 (New York, Transnational Publishers, 1999), 177-286.

This chapter sets out the international legal framework  related to state obligations to address violence against women.  It describes the various manifestations of violence against women and the legal responses to such violence.  Violence against women in the family can take various forms and is often located within the patriarchal power relations of a marriage.  Studies illustrate the prevalence of domestic violence and marital rape.  Domestic violence is utilized by both formal and informal actors to control women by controlling the one space universally inhabited by women -- the home.  Violence within the community is also prevalent, where sexual offences are often condoned by the local state through failure of intervention and inaction.

Coulson, N., ‘Regulation of Sexual Behaviour under Traditional Islamic Law’ in Al-Sayyid-Marsot A. L. (ed.), Society and the Sexes in Medieval Islam (Malibu, California: Undena, 1979), 63-68.

Traditional Islamic law stipulates strict codes of behaviour in relation to sex and sexual behaviour.  There exists no distinction between law and morality. Lawful sexual relations take place only within a legal marriage.  Other sexual relations are criminalised.  In general terms, Islamic criminal law is a two-tier system.  The top tier consists of certain defined offences entailing fixed punishments and known as hadd offences.  The lower tier consists of all other offences, broadly categorized as less serious versions of the hadd offences, considered to fall within the tazir (‘deterrent’) jurisdiction. Here, the determination both of the offence and of the punishment is a matter for the discretion of the authorities, executive and judicial.

Goodwin, J., Price of Honour: Muslim Women, Lift the Veil of Silence on the Islamic World (Warner Books, 1995).

This book examines how the concept of honour in a number of Muslim countries may affect Muslim women. ‘Honour’ is defined as a mechanism to control female sexuality and ensure gender segregation through the operation of ‘purdah’.  Women’s basic rights to education, employment and rights within the family and community are therefore severely curtailed. The book comprises of country studies including Pakistan, Iran, Afghanistan, Iran, Kuwait and Egypt.  One particular focus of the book is the relationship between militant repressive governments in these particular countries and the emergence of ‘political Islam’ which has led to the restriction of autonomy and choice for Muslim women.

Leader-Elliott, I ., ‘Passion and Insurrection in the Law of Provocation’, in Naffisen, N& Owens R. J. (eds.), Sexing the Subject of the Law (Sydney, Sweet & Maxwell, 1997), 149-169.

This chapter explores how the law of provocation in Australia embodies notions of sexuality and honour and is defined in terms of sexual provocation.  Sexual provocation is seen as a cultural defence to the murder of women, which transcends religious and ethnic boundaries. A historical analysis reveals that in relation to adultery, French law relied on the notion of the violation of honour while English law was more concerned with violation of property rights.  In the law of sexual provocation, a widening defence is established just at the time that the law reduces the legal controls (in civil status) of men over women.

Mahmud, J., ‘Crimes against Honour: Women in International Refugee Law’, Journal of Refugee Studies, Vol.9, No.4, (1996).

This article examines two perspectives concerning refugee women in legal literature.  One perspective argues that sex should be included in the Refugee Convention definition, as a ground of persecution and that the concept of ‘persecution’ itself should be reformulated to incorporate the experience of women.  The second perspective argues that a distinction must be drawn between a persecutory ground and that issues relating to sex can be better addressed within the legal structures which currently exist.  The article first provides a backdrop to the debate which discusses sexual violence and other forms of violence against women which exist in the refugee context; then gives a detailed exposition of both perspectives; discusses relevant practice in the area with reference to the Canadian experience; and finally provides comparisons and conclusions.

Thomas, D. Q. and Levi, R. S., ‘Violence Against Women: An Introduction’ in Askin, K. D. and Koening D. M, (eds.), Women and International Human Rights Law (New York, Transnational Publishers, 1997), 139-176.

This chapter details diverse forms of violence against women in a number of countries.  It highlights how violations against women may possess certain similarities worldwide yet the manner in which women experience mistreatment can differ vastly within and between different countries.  A number of country studies illustrate the varied nature of violence and abuse directed at women which may take the form of domestic violence, custodial abuse and employment discrimination and which transcend  cultural, ethnic, religious and class divisions.  The state is reluctant to intervene, often colluding with the perpetrators or failing to provide adequate protection for women.  Discriminatory family laws are often justified in the name of tradition.  Crimes in the name of ‘family honour’ are documented in a number of countries.

Whitman, J., ‘What is Wrong with Inflicting Shame Sanctions?’, Yale Law Journal 107(4) (1998), 1055-1092.

In response to the scattered reappearance of shame sanctions in the United States, this article attempts to explicate what is wrong with inflicting these sanctions. Following an historical review of the social and political arguments utilised by reformers during the 18-19th centuries to abolish shame sanctions in Europe and America, it is concluded that there exists no straightforward liberal tradition to show why engaging in the mere public display of offenders, without corporal violence, is wrong. Numerous social changes since the 19th century, which have made the resurgence of shame sanctions possible, have additionally rendered past arguments against them irrelevant. The article concludes that shame sanctions are wrong as they involve a species of official lynch justice with an ugly and politically dangerous complicity between the state and the crowd. It is argued that the most disturbing shame sanctions are those conveying the message that government has abdicated its monopoly of power to punish crime and that when the public serves as an agent of punishment, this runs counter to the norms of democratic rule of law.

Youssef, N., ‘Cultural Ideals, Feminine Behaviour and Family Control’, Comparative Studies in Society and History 15(3) (1973), 326-347.

This article highlights the importance of the structural context of  family behaviour  to explain the considerable dissociation in Latin America between values related to family organisation and the way women behave in actuality. Family organisation in Latin America is noted for its strong familism, patriarchialism and a  tradition of male domination and the subordination of women. The family, as the primary source of identity, controls individual behaviour through the social value of honour. Family honour is linked to the interdependent characteristics of the manliness of the man (machismo) and sexual purity of the woman (verguenza). It is expected that a social system in which the security of a man's honour lies in the sexual purity of his female relatives will engender within its very structure rules confining women to a traditional role of marriage and motherhood. However, data from Latin America in the 1960s demonstrates female behavioural patterns relating to the universality of and age at marriage, births outside  marriage, literacy and education standards and participation in the labour force, all of which are incongruent with normative prescriptions. In contrast, data from Middle Eastern countries is presented which illustrates that most of the normative expectations regarding the female role are being met. This article further argues that feminine behaviour in Latin America diverges from cultural norms as the monolithic system of family authority and institutionalisation of ideal family norms have been weakened by two primary factors: the impact of the Spanish conquest and the influence exercised by the Catholic clergy. These situational circumstances have enabled a range of alternative behavioural patterns for women to supersede the single traditional role circumscribed by culture and sustained by family ideals.


a)    Americas

Andrade, V. R. P., Violencia sexual e sistema penal: protecao ou duplicacao da vitimacao feminina?, in Dora, D., (ed.), Feminino e Masculino: A igualdade e a diferenca na justica, (Themis, 1997), 105-130 (Portuguese Text).

This article reflects on the feminist stand on the ability of the criminal justice system to protect women against violence. The article argues that the use of the criminal justice system for the protection of women is flawed. The system is selective and unequal and results in institutional violence which also affects the victims. Women who make use of the criminal justice system may find themselves subjected to institutional violence which reproduces the structural violence of capitalist and patriarchal relationships. In cases of violence against women, the central issue is not the aggression and violation of freedom suffered by the woman concerned, nor the conduct of the man, but generally involves the examination of the character, social status and the past of both victim and perpetrator. The article argues that sexual reputation is as decisive for female culpability as social status is for male culpability. The protected legal object in crimes against women is the dominant sexual morals and not the sexual freedom or physical integrity of women. The author concludes by affirming that only by changing the male legal paradigm can women achieve symmetry of rights.

Andrade, V. R. P., Criminologia e Feminismo, in Baratta A., Streck L., and Andrade, V. (ed.), Editora Sulina (1999), 105-117 (Portuguese Text).

The article stresses the serious crisis of legitimacy of the criminal justice system in Brazil. The article also points out that the criminal justice system faces ambiguous demands by society. On the one hand, there is a demand for a minimalist approach to sentencing, and on the other a demand for the criminalisation of certain conduct. Feminist demands encompass this ambiguity, by demanding decriminalisation of abortion, adultery and seduction, for instance, and the criminalisation of other acts, such as domestic violence and sexual harassment. The article questions the logic behind this contradictory methodology and the value of the criminal justice system in protecting women against violence. It argues that the criminal justice system actually repeats  the victimisation process , as women become victims of institutional violence reflecting social and patriarchal discrimination, a process which ultimately affects the unity of the feminist movement. Rather than find protection in the system, women are put on trial and divided. Perpetrators and victims are selected according to their sexual reputation, establishing a great dividing line between ‘honest’ and ‘dishonest’ women. The author considers the criminal justice system unable to serve as a source of cohesion and unity for women, instead acting as a dispersion and exclusionary strategy which recreates inequalities and social prejudice. Legitimisation of the criminal justice system as a forum for addressing problems faced by women also deviates efforts within the feminist movement towards more creative, radical and efficient solutions.

Barsted, L. L., Metade vitimas, metade cumplices? A violencia contra mulheres nas relacoes conjugais,  in Dora, D., (ed.), Feminino e Masculino: A igualdade e a diferenca na justica, (Themis, 1997), 73-84(Portuguese Text).

Victimology, the branch of criminology which investigates the contribution of the victim to the occurrence of crime, is the theme explored in this article. Although in certain situations the conduct of the victim may be decisive for a dramatic turn of events, it is important to bear in mind that cultural standards of behaviour work distinctively and what could be considered as contributory conduct for a woman may be regarded as normal for a man. Social scientists should not allow victimology to be manipulated through a gender point of view. There is no evidence to suggest that women have a docile, sweet nature and men a violent and aggressive one. Cultural patterns however influence conduct – the expression of each individual’s nature. Statistics show that men are mostly victims of violence committed by strangers, whereas women are most likely to suffer violence committed inside their own homes. It is suggested that it is not helpful to see women as passive beings suffering violence. In many recorded cases, women are killed by their husbands precisely because they are trying to separate or create conditions for a possible future separation. The article argues that the lack of a strong position by the State in relation to domestic violence reinforces the idea that this kind of aggression belongs in the private sphere. When the State does not punish, or when it treats domestic violence as a form of ‘minor violence’ or second-class offence, it gives out signals that private justice is acceptable, when in reality it is barbaric and undemocratic. It is argued that the politics of the Brazilian judicial system in relation to domestic violence  implicitly contributes to gender violence in the home and family.

Human Rights Watch, Women's Rights Project, Criminal Injustice: Violence Against Women in Brazil, October 1991, 20-26.

This section of the report focuses on the ‘honour defence’ used in Brazil to obtain acquittal of husbands accused of murdering their wives. It discusses how the defence is presented first as a ‘crime of passion’ and then as legitimate self-defence against  imminent aggression  against the honour of the perpetrator. A number of case studies demonstrate how the honour defence has been successfully invoked in Brazil resulting in the defendant’s acquittal.  There is a tension between the rule of law and the influence of prevailing social norms which sanction wife-murder on grounds of honour and which have been endorsed by the judiciary. The report calls for changes to how the police and the judiciary deal with such cases and also for the government to be held responsible for failing to fulfil its obligations under both domestic and international law to guarantee equal protection to its citizens without regard to sex.

Maguigan, H., ‘Cultural Evidence and Male Violence: Are Feminist and Multiculturalist Reformers on a Collision Course in Criminal Courts?’ in New York University Law Review, Volume 70 (1995), 36-99.

While both feminists and multiculturalists have advocated for inclusion of a wider variety of voices in American jurisprudence, they have perceived themselves to be on opposite sides of a vigorously disputed issue, viz. whether to permit criminal defendants to introduce cultural evidence. Some feminists argue that any admissibility of cultural evidence in cases involving male violence against women ultimately condones such violence.  Multiculturalists, by contrast, advocate the use of cultural information to counteract the injustice of applying the dominant culture’s legal standards to defendants from other cultures.  In this article, the author argues that the criminal justice system can and must begin to accommodate the seemingly irreconcilable goals of feminists and multiculturalists.  After rejecting recognition of a freestanding ‘cultural defence’ as definitionally and practically unworkable, she explores alternative routes by which cultural background information can and should be used in criminal trials.  Surveying current treatment of cultural evidence put forward by both male and female defendants in cases of domestic and non-family violence, she concludes that courts have wrongly adopted an all-or-nothing approach, either excluding all cultural evidence or admitting it without challenge.  To resolve tension between feminists and multiculturalist reform goals, the author advocates a more measured approach, endorsing admissibility of cultural information to the extent the evidence is relevant to prove a defendant’s mens rea.  The prosecution may then challenge this evidence, as it does other relevant defence evidence, through cross-examination, rebuttal testimony and reasoned argument.

Nelson, L. S., ‘The Defense of Honor: Is it Still Honored in Brazil?’ Wisconsin International Law Journal, 11 (1993), 531-536.

Writing in 1993, the author argues that the most significant legal event to date for the Brazilian women’s movement was the March 1991 murder trial and appeal of Joao Lopes. In that case, Brazil’s highest appellate court rejected the defence of honour which would have provided a defence to a husband’s killing of his allegedly adulterous wife. However, on remand, the State Court of Parana ignored the Superior Tribunal’s opinion and acquitted the defendant. This article examines Lopes within the context of the activities of the Brazilian women’s movement and the history of wife-murder in Brazil. It argues that the accomplishments of the women’s movement in regard to domestic violence in Brazil, like the effects of the Lopes decision, have been fleeting and illusory. While some real changes in women’s rights have taken place, these accomplishments have either had unintended negative consequences or lost their positive impact. Finally, this article considers whether the Brazilian women’s movement’s pursuit of equality based on a ‘one-size-fits-all’ vision of traditional, individual rights and assimilationist values is an effective approach to securing women’s rights in Brazil.

Scapini, M. A.,  Acesso a justica: raca e genero, Feminino e Masculino: A igualdade e a diferenca na justica, in Dora, D., (ed.), (Themis, 1997), 27-30 (Portuguese Text).

The article examines the statistics of convicted offenders in the Brazilian prison system and describes women offenders as generally having committed non-violent crimes, or being accomplices or accessories to violent crimes. It stresses the fact that women are disproportionately represented in the criminal justice system as victims rather than perpetrators. A few important developments have occurred in Brazilian jurisprudence, particularly due to the mobilisation of feminists. It is suggested for instance that there is an increased credibility of  the victims and sentencing of offenders. This may indicate a move from the traditional approach to criminal justice policy of avoidance of interference with crimes against women, particularly in the context of domestic violence. The author, a practising lawyer, argues that changes are needed in the criminal justice system in order to give support to those involved in domestic crimes, by providing counselling to victims and offenders alike. It is also suggested that judges and other officials should receive appropriate training in dealing with sensitive issues such as domestic violence and sexual crimes.

Spatz, M.,‘A 'Lesser' Crime: A Comparative Study of Legal Defences for Men Who Kill Their Wives,’ Columbia Journal of Law and Social Problems, 24 (1991), 597-638.

Throughout the world, men who murder their wives encounter legal systems lenient toward their crimes. This article examines three types of legal system which employ distinct means to reduce or eliminate criminal penalties for men who kill their wives. Criminal justice systems in Middle Eastern countries such as Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco and Syria utilise statutes or customary law to achieve these aims. Although the Pakistan Penal Code does not recognise a defence for men who kill their wives, courts have utilised the concept of ‘grave and sudden provocation’ to serve similar ends. The article outlines a second type of system, in which positive laws designed to protect women from their husbands are not enforced. In this context, a detailed review is made of the phenomenon of dowry deaths in India, in which young brides are murdered by their husbands to obtain higher dowries. Lastly, this article examines two countries, Brazil and the United States, in which judges have created defences for men who kill their wives. Although it has recently been rejected by the Brazilian Supreme Court, earlier invocations of the ‘legitimate defence of honour’ often resulted in little or no punishment for a man who killed his wife on the ostensible ground that she had offended his honour. Lastly, some courts in the United States have formally recognised a "cultural defence" which invokes racial, ethnic and religious factors to lessen a defendant's responsibility for certain crimes. This cultural defence is utilised disproportionately in wife-murder cases. This article concludes that the problem of lenient sentences for wife-murderers exists on a universal scale, thus not resulting from religious or cultural factors but from shared attitudes about women's worth and their proper role in society.

Spierenburg, P., Men and Violence: Gender, Honour and Rituals in Modern Europe and America (Columbus: Ohio State University Press, 1998).

This book analyses the relationship between gender relations, masculinity, and constructions of honour in Europe and America.  Violence, it is argued, cannot only be defined as ‘criminal’ as in many cultural contexts it is linked to honour and encoded in rituals.  Notions of ‘honour’ and ‘shame’ are gendered and closely linked to constructions of masculinity and femininity and male honour is therefore defined differently to female honour.  The conception of honour is defined as having three distinct layers: a person’s own feeling of self-worth; this person’s assessment of his or her worth in the eyes of others and the actual opinion of others about her or him.  The criteria of judgement depend on the socio-cultural context of the community. Identifying the different standards of honour and masculinity is therefore a cross- cultural enterprise.  A historical analysis of western societies reveals that a shift in the way the body and gender were perceived was accompanied by a transformation in concepts of gender and honour.  The ancient code of honour and its accompanying culture of violence have not disappeared entirely.

b) Europe

Anwar, M., ‘The Family and Marriage’ in Between Cultures, Continuity and Change in the Lives of Young Asians (London: Routledge, 1998), 99-116.

This chapter examines the changing nature of the ‘Asian family structure’ and attitudes towards arranged marriages.  The findings are based on a number of studies, conducted over a period of 25 years, which illustrate such changing attitudes.  The process of migration and the creation of disaporic Asian communities in the UK have led to challenges to the ‘traditional Asian family’.  However traditional facets including patrilineal descent group, patrilocal residential rule, patriarchal authority and respect related to age and sex and preferential marriage patterns remain intact.  Many Asians continue to live in extended households or function as joint families. It is argued that power is hierarchically distributed according to age and sex, but there is little focus on the impact this may have for different members of the family household.  The notions of ‘respect’ and ‘prestige’ ensure that the basic nature of the traditional Asian family structure remains intact. The practice of arranged marriages has adapted over time with the introduction of marriage agencies, thus young people have a greater say in deciding who they marry, although the practice remains intact due to family and community pressure. Social policy studies reveal widespread support for arranged marriages among young Asians. The reasons given include personal experience and knowledge from one’s own family that the system had worked well in the past.

Asano-Tamanoi, M., ‘Shame, Family and State in Catalonia and Japan’ in Gilmore, D. D.(ed.), Honor and Shame and the Unity of the Mediterranean (Washington DC: American Anthropological Association, 1987) no.2, 104-120.

This chapter compares a village in Catalonia to a village in Japan and outlines how both communities employ the concept of ‘shame’.  It argues that the notion of shame is embedded within the concept of ‘family/household continuity’.  The state constructs a ‘moral universe’ and locates the family and the household as central to this construction which acts as an important ‘ideological mechanism’ to control sexuality.  Reproduction is central to the idea of the ‘family/household’ and women are seen to have clearly defined roles, which control their sexuality.  Furthermore, women who are unable to reproduce are considered to bring ‘shame’ onto their family and thus to cause a loss of family honour.

Baroja, J. C., ‘Honour and Shame: A Historical Account of Several Conflicts’ in Peristiany, J. G.(ed.), Honour and Shame: The Values of Mediterranean Society (Chicago, 1966), 79-138.

Analysis focuses upon how the notions of ‘honour’ and ‘shame’ within Spanish society have evolved over time.  Evidence of this is provided through analysis of four different types of text, legal, theological, literary and historical. At particular periods of time honour is connected to lineage and social class whilst at other times honour is connected to ideas of ‘pure blood’.  Nevertheless the fact that the notion of honour has existed over a period of time indicates its ability to transform and adapt.  Some ideas embedded within notions of honour have died out over time. For example, the notion of honour as connected to genealogies is no longer prevalent though it is considered to relate to the quality of the parents and ‘breed’ or the ‘nation’ in general. In contemporary Spanish society, honour is connected with social class. For example, the ‘left’ has sought to diminish the idea of ‘middle class honour’ and conservatives have raised challenges regarding the honour of the revolution and the poorer classes.

Bell, R. M., Fate and Honor, Family and Village: Demographic and Cultural Change in Rural Italy Since 1800 (University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1979).

This book traces the impact of demographic change upon rural Italian culture primarily through the four values of fortuna (fatalism), onore (honour/respect/dignity), la famiglia (family) and campanilismo (village), which defined a peasant's self-identity and circumscribed social behaviour. Based upon an analysis of four villages, the book contends that onore has meaning only within the context of la famiglia, the centre of Italian life. For every occurrence some response is required, and it is the pattern of such responses that establishes onore. Maintaining onore in the area of sexual behaviour is only a small part of the total effort required, for respect and dignity came with continued support of one's immediate family at a level appropriate to one's station in life. Death, significant as a denial of the cyclical continuation of la famiglia, and its connection to onore, is also explored. As procreation was a matter of onore for the husband and 'his' family, the death of a child took from the father a portion of his respect in the community. Funeral orations, especially recalling favours granted by an adult possessing onore, became a list of reciprocal debts still owed to la famiglia. The book argues that the transition from peasant to rural proletarian involved transformations of these aforementioned values.

Bhopal, K., ‘South Asian Women and Arranged Marriages in East London’ in Barot R., Bradley H. & Fenton S. (eds.), Ethnicity, Gender and Social Change (London: Macmillan Press Ltd, 1999) 117-134.

This chapter examines the position of South Asian women within the family and household in diaspora communities within the UK, with particular reference to arranged marriages.  It also examines the influence of education and how this affects whether South Asian women participate in arranged marriages.  Arranged marriages within South Asian communities in Britain are part of customary practices which originate from South Asia.  Little research has been conducted on the extent to which arranged marriages are practised in the UK and the processes involved.  The typology of arranged marriages put forward by researchers Stopes-Roe and Cochrane (the ‘traditional pattern’; the ‘modified traditional pattern’ and the ‘co-operative traditional pattern’) forms the basis of the research.  In Britain, the operation of kinship patrilineal networks and ‘biradari’ are vital to the operation of arranged marriages.  There exists a conflict between western norms and values of ‘marriage’ and the Asian custom of marriage.  Women have less control and influence over arranged marriages.  The right to refuse a marriage often exists for young men though not for women as they are considered to embody/carry the honour of the community.

Bourdieu, P., ‘The Sentiment of Honour in Kabyle society’ in Peristiany, J. G. Honour and Shame: The Values of Mediterranean Society (Chicago, 1966), 193-237.

Honour exists and operates within the traditional Kabyle society in Greece as the basis of a moral code whereby elder members of the community define acceptable patterns of conduct and behaviour.  The relationship with others, through notions of ‘intensity’, ‘intimacy’ and ‘continuity’, takes precedence over the relationship the individual may have with him or herself.  The important position accorded to the notion of ‘honour’ is characteristic of all ‘primary societies’. Different values may exist which vary the application of the notion of honour but its centrality remains throughout.  In addition, the notion of honour also constitutes the political order thus transcending all arenas of life.  It is a common and intimate code, by which each individual must live.

Bradby, H., ‘Negotiating Marriage: Young Punjabi Women’s Assessment of Their Individual and Family Interests’ in Barot R., Bradley H. & Fenton S. (eds), Ethnicity, Gender and Social Change (London: Macmillan Press Ltd, 1999), 152-166.

This chapter draws upon research conducted in Glasgow to examine what marriage means to second and third generation South Asian women. A total of 70 women were part of the three-year study. The strategies these women employ to counter the drawbacks of ‘arranged marriages’ are outlined and the balance that young women draw between their own interests and those of their patrilineality is explored.  The concept of ‘honour’ plays a pivotal role in defining marriage and the role of the community. The ‘honour community’ dictates acceptable behaviour in the community.  Women employed a number of strategies to delay marriage where the sanctions of the honour community could be avoided.  By postponing entry to a family-contracted marriage, young women were able to reassess and renegotiate their role within the system, rather than rejecting it in toto.  By preventing their behaviour from coming to the attention of the honour community of their parents, it was possible for young women to engage in activities that would be defined as of questionable honour before entering an arranged marriage.

Brandes, S., ‘Reflections on Honour and Shame in the Mediterranean’ in Gilmore, D. D.(ed.), Honor and Shame and the Unity of the Mediterranean (Washington DC: American Anthropological Association, 1987) no.2, 120-134.

This chapter provides an overview of the studies on ‘honour’ and ‘shame’ in the Mediterranean. These concepts are related to control over scarce resources including land and property, political power and female sexuality.  A number of theoretical models which separate the notion of ‘honour’ from ‘shame’ are put forward to illustrate this. The importance of cross-cultural research is emphasised which provides an insight into the ‘moral workings’ of different communities. For example, female chastity is elevated to a symbolic virtue, which means that many women become pawns in the struggle for family honour.  It is this regulation of sexuality that is particularly characteristic of Mediterranean codes of honour and shame.

Briggs, J. and Z., Runaway (Vista, June 1999).

This book provides a detailed autobiographical account of the lives of ‘Jack’ and ‘Zena’, a young married couple from Bradford, UK, who have been in hiding for over six years after receiving death threats from Zena’s family, after she refused to marry in Pakistan.  It charts their struggle to live free from fear and persecution as Zena’s family, refusing to accept her marriage to an Englishman, hire private detectives and bounty hunters to track them down and kill them in the name of ‘honour’.

Campbell, J., ‘Honour and the Devil’ in Gilmore, D. D.(ed.), Honor and Shame and the Unity of the Mediterranean (Washington DC: American Anthropological Association 1987) no.2, 56-69.

This chapter examines the interplay of religious notions of ‘good’ and ‘evil’ in the constructions of ‘honour’ operating within the Sarakatsani community in Greece.  It outlines how social and religious ideals are reconciled.  ‘Honour’ is defined as a form of integrity for men who are seen to retain their honour through violence.  While both men and women are seen to embody notions of honour, they do so very differently.  The female values of honour are referred to as the ideal conduct of modesty, virginal attitudes and selfless love. In contrast, men’s role is to protect this honour.  Thus the concept of honour is seen as the guiding principle of behaviour for both men and women.

Davis, J., ‘Family and State in the Mediterranean’ in Gilmore, D. D.(ed.), Honor and Shame and the Unity of the Mediterranean (Washington DC: American Anthropological Association 1987) no.2, 22-34.

This chapter outlines the anthropological discussion on the question of homogeneity within a community and developments which led to diversification among peoples in the Mediterranean.  The concepts of honour and shame are linked not only to social status and importance but also to sex.  Previous writers have employed the concepts of honour and shame to illustrate homogeneity within the communities. However these concepts exist and operate in a variety of ways and according to different communities and are closely related to the ‘family’.  Honour is linked to the social status of the individual.  The ‘orientalist’ and ‘particularistic’ approaches are critiqued to illustrate how honour is used within the private domain of the family and community as a reaction to the state providing clear guidelines on issues of morality.  So the concept is used against a state which universalises ‘rules’ and fails to recognise differences within local communities.  A contrast between state rules and the rules of local communities is provided to question the extent to which universalising principles undermine local traditions.  An example of the relationship between family and state in Libya illustrates how honour and shame fit into the equation. Honour is chiefly concerned with relations between men and groups of men, much less with the control of women. The state has attempted to replace ‘honour’ with a family system of loyalties and claims of people’s lives to the state.

Delaney, C., ‘Seeds of Honor, Fields of Shame’, in Gilmore, D. D.(ed.), Honor and Shame and the Unity of the Mediterranean (Washington DC: American Anthropological Association 1987) no.2, 35-47.

Based upon anthropological fieldwork in a Turkish village in the Anatolian steppe, this chapter argues that the concepts of sexuality and procreation differentiate the honour/shame complex of the Mediterranean from that of other geographical areas. Attempts to explicate this complex by focusing on social structure, politics and economics rather than on sexuality fail to explain why honour is primarily seen as an attribute of men and shame of women, or why male honour is seen to be so inextricably linked to women. It is argued that honour and shame are functions of a specific construction of procreation, correlative with the concept of monotheism, in which the male and his semen are perceived to create while the woman is seen as the passive recipient. This social perception of the male creative ability is the foundation upon which the notion of honour is built, and it implies the need for control of women to assure the paternity of any offspring. Family honour is augmented by the practice of endogamy, in which females are retained within the family. The honour/shame complex is not solely a function of male dominance and authority, but a distinctive system in which power, sex and the sacred are interrelated and seen to be rooted in the verities of biology.

Giovannini, M. J, ‘Female Chastity Codes in the Circum-Mediterranean: Comparative Perspectives’ in Gilmore, D. D.(ed.), Honor and Shame and the Unity of the Mediterranean (Washington DC: American Anthropological Association 1987) no.2, 61-74.

This chapter questions traditional Mediterranean ethnographies which define honour as a cultural construct which orders social relations between individuals as well as kinship groups. The category of ‘honour’, as employed by traditional anthropologists, has failed to examine the control of female sexuality.  Instead, the term ‘female chastity’ is used to examine how it may operate as an indicator of social worth for all individuals and their respective kin groups.  Analysis focuses on how the control of female chastity operates within the community/supra-local linkages, class relations and the politics of gender.  ‘Female chastity’ is positioned within political, economic and ecological situations whereby kin groups compete over land and other scarce resources. Virginity thus comes to symbolise the family’s ability to protect its material boundaries.  This approach, which links together the concepts of ‘female chastity’, material conditions and social worth is based upon rational responses to objective conditions and seeks to avoid earlier ethnocentric models which focussed solely upon ‘culture’. State and religious institutions legitimate, enforce and symbolically justify the cultural codes of female chastity.

Harris, R., Murders and Madness: Medicine, Law and Society in the Fin de Siecle (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1989), 285-332.

This chapter outlines a historical analysis of how ‘crimes of passion’ in western countries have been defined around traditional constructions of masculinity. Men have claimed passion as the motive for killing of wives, lovers or rivals in almost half of all murder cases.  In turn the courts have probed deeply into attitudes towards marital duties and sexual behaviour searching for credentials such as honourable intent, loyalty and devotion.  The concepts of male honour, despair and outrage were thus couched in very different terms to women's use of them.  The interpretation of a crime of passion varied considerably between women and men.  The courts employed typologies of honourable and dishonourable masculinity to determine the guilt of men.  Men were seen to kill to protect their honour and traditional ideas supported this.

Herzfeld, M., ‘As in Your Own House: Hospitality, Ethnography and the Stereotype of Mediterranean Society’, in Gilmore, D. D.(ed.), Honor and Shame and the Unity of the Mediterranean (Washington DC: American Anthropological Association 1987) no.2, 75-89.

Based upon anthropological work in a Greek village, this article examines the advantages of replacing the term ‘honour’ with that of ‘hospitality’ in researching Mediterranean societies. Arguing that ‘honour’ is semantically and logically suspect as a demonstration of circum-Mediterranean cultural unity, the concept of hospitality is presented as providing a more convincing basis for comparisons which could also be geographically extended. It is further argued that the more precise definition of hospitality, which involves reciprocity and proprietary rights, would permit escape from the well-worn generalisations about Mediterranean character and values. Hospitality can further be studied in its local, national and regional transformations and also forces anthropologists to consider their own part in constructing ethnographic generalisations which form the basis for social comparisons.

Menski, W., ‘South Asian Women in Britain, Family Integrity and the Primary Purpose Rule’, in Barot, R., Bradley H. & Fenton, S. (eds.), Ethnicity, Gender and Social Change (London: Macmillan Press Ltd, 1999) 81-98.

The primary purpose rule, until recently a part of British immigration law, singled out South Asian women in refusing entry clearance to their lawful spouses. This chapter argues that exclusionary immigration rules aimed at certain groups not only marginalise ethnic minorities in Britain, but also wilfully disregard the legitimate expectations and socio-pyschological needs of Asian and other ethnic minority women in Britain. Exploring the consequences of such systematic disempowerment for Asian women, it is argued that while Asian women, as a class or social group, as well as individually, are being victimised and disadvantaged by the effects of British immigration laws, less prosperous Asian women in Britain are being further marginalised.

Peristiany, J., ‘Honour and Shame in a Cypriot Highland Village’ in Peristiany, J. G. (ed.), Honour and Shame: The Values of Mediterranean Society (Chicago, 1966) 171-190.

This chapter outlines a theoretical model defined as a ‘common value language’ to examine how the notions of ‘honour’ and ‘shame’ may operate within Greek Cypriot communities.  It focuses on how the values of honour and shame are perceived and reflected within this framework, when these notions are invoked and which groups are most affected.  Within the Greek Cypriot community there exist two value systems, the urban and the rural. The rural value system embodies constructions of Greek Cypriot identity; the influence of Greek Orthodoxy is also pivotal. The village is defined as the “unit of moral evaluation” and the family regulates the behaviour of individuals outlining a set of rules, duties and obligations.  It is within this unit that  moral values take their most potent form and  honour and shame operate most directly. The state has little significance in catalysing values and loyalties; it is the family which is all-important.

Siddiqui, H. ‘Forced Marriages: The Duty of Social Services’ in Community Care, 8-14 July 1999, 20-23.

The article addresses the issue of forced marriages in the UK, focussing upon the legal duties of Social Services to act in such cases.  It draws upon the work of Southall Black Sisters, a black women’s organisation which has dealt with the issue of forced marriages over a period of 20 years.  It begins from the premise that all complaints of forced marriages should be taken seriously and defines what may constitute as a forced marriage.  It outlines the legal duties of Social Services with particular emphasis on Part III of the Children Act 1989 and Part IV of the Family Law Act 1996.  It concludes with a useful list for social workers of ‘signs’ which may indicate a possible forced marriage outlining what they should and should not do in such a situation.

Siddiqui, H., ‘The Ties that Bind’ in Index On Censorship No.1., 2000, 50-53.

The case of Ruksana Naz, a young Asian woman from Nottingham in Britain, who was killed for ‘shaming her family’ sets the backdrop for this article. The author argues that this case though at the extreme end of the spectrum reflects how many Asian women in Britain face severe violence for refusing to conform to family expectations.  Forced marriage in the UK is not confined to Muslim women but cuts across faith, age, class, caste and racial group.  Discussion focuses upon the nature of a forced marriage and the different ways in which pressure to marry may manifest. It is a practice which can affect men but one which overwhelmingly affects women, whose ‘sexual purity’ represents the honour of the family.  The practice is an abuse of women’s human rights and reduces them to a position of sexual subservience. The author argues that the British Home Office, which set up a working party to report on the nature and scale of forced marriages in the UK, must listen to radical black women’s organisations and not depend for resolution of the problem on community leaders, who are largely male, conservative and orthodox.  The issue of forced marriage illustrates how racism and cultural relativism deny Asian women the right to universal rights.

Thompson, A. & Siddiqui, H., ‘Clash of Cultures’ in Community Care 8-14 July 1999, 21-24.

This article questions at what point a long accepted practice may be considered to have become an abuse of rights for young girls and women from ethnic minority backgrounds.  It raises the dilemmas which social workers may experience in dealing with cases which require cultural and religious factors to be taken into account.  Social workers constantly come up against attitudes and practices of which they may disapprove, but when such cases also have an ethnic or cultural significance of which they may be ignorant, their actions and inaction can have serious implications.  The murder of Ruksana Naz and cases of forced marriages illustrate the crucial role of social workers. A number of cases are presented which demonstrate how social workers must address this complex issue with sensitivity while recognising that the human rights of the individual must prevail in all circumstances.

c) Middle East/North Africa

Abduh, J., The Crime of Family Honour (Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, 1999) [Arabic Text].

With an introduction by Nadia Abdel Wahab, this short book looks at the phenomenon of the ‘crime of family honour’ in Palestinian Arab society inside the 1948 borders of Israel. Separate chapters set the phenomenon in its socio-economic and historical context, showing how the concept of ‘family honour’ changes and considering: the status of women in the British Mandate and the Nakba of 1948; women in popular culture; the position of this part of Palestinian society regarding the issue of ‘family honour’; the women’s movement as an agent of change; and state policy regarding violence against women. An appendix sets out the programme of Al-Badeel (The Coalition against the Crime of Family Honour).

Al-Fanar, ‘Developments in the Struggle against the Murder of Women against the Background of so-called Family Honour’, Women Against Fundamentalism Journal, no.6, 1995, 37-41.

This article discusses the practice of honour crimes within Palestinian society.  Family honour is defined as an entire social behavioural code imposed on women for the purpose of enforcing their inferiority and preserving male supremacy.  It is argued that the Israeli state affords crimes of honour ‘special treatment’ attempting to portray them as part of Arab folklore and tradition in order to control the communities.  The state is directly linked to the continued perpetration of  ‘honour crimes and killings’, as women who attempt to escape are handed over by the authorities to the family or community leaders.  Thus this policy of preserving a retrogressive patriarchal tradition is part of the policy of political control over the Palestinian population.  Therefore, it is argued that the feminist struggle against tradition is an inseparable part of the struggle for equality and national liberation.  The article also provides a case study of the practice of honour crimes within the Druze community in Palestine, through the illustration of a local youth colluding with the police to ensure that those who commit honour killings are not bought to justice. It discusses a demonstration by women against such killings and its condemnation by religious leaders and highlights the increasing failure of the state to take such killings seriously.

Al-Khayyat, S., Honour and Shame: Women in Modern Iraq (London: Saqi Books, 1993), 21-78.

These chapters examine how female behaviour is regulated in Iraqi society through the concepts of honour and shame, which impact upon all aspects of a female's socialisation. Negative attitudes to the birth of a girl are noted and connected to the concept of honour. As honour demands that girls be watched closely and controlled, their upbringing is considered difficult. Honour crimes occur more frequently in rural and Bedouin areas and among less educated families.  A man who avenges his dignity by killing a woman will be considered a hero by his fellow men and friends. Quotes from a variety of Iraqi women are used to illustrate attitudes concerning family relationships, education, menstruation and marriage.

Antonelli, A., ‘Crimes Not Stories’, Palestine Report, May 22, 1998, 22-24.

This article traces the work of the Women’s Centre for Legal Aid and Counselling in the Palestinian West Bank on the issue of violence against women.  Although the number of women killed in the name of ‘honour’ remains hidden from official statistics, research carried out by the Centre indicates an annual rise in killings. The restoration of  ‘family honour’ through the murder of young women is not considered unusual social behaviour within Palestinian communities and the Centre provides legal and educational training seminars and workshops to challenge such attitudes.  Women activists face an uphill struggle whilst existing legislation serves to protect men who kill in the name of honour and also fails to recognise the experience of female victims.

Antoun, R. T., Arab Village: A Social Structural Study of a Trans-Jordanian Peasant Community (Indiana University Press, 1977).

This book provides an anthropological study of the Kufr al-Ma village in the Ajlun district in Jordan.  The book examines the relationship between the structural nature of the community and the operation of its specific norms and values.  It goes on to consider what impact cultural and social processes operating within the community may have upon its members.  Two central themes discussed in the book are the issue of social control and the impact of social change due to economic changes.  Kinship descent and relations are central to the formation of the community and play a pivotal role in the relationship between community members and wider society.  This process is crucial to the control of marriage and sexual relations and those who wish to challenge such customs are often killed or made liable to pay compensation to the injured party.  The concept of ‘honour’ therefore operates to maintain strict segregation between the sexes.  Unofficial legal bodies defined as ‘consultation groups’ regulate such behaviour and thus aim to maintain strict social codes relating to family, social and community relationships.  These groups, made up of male members of the community are often implicated in honour killings but their behaviour is sanctioned by the community .  They are therefore seen as moral guardians of the community.  A number of case studies illustrate that women are more likely to become victims of ‘honour killings’ and the community condones such a practice.

Bates, D. G. and Rassam A., Peoples and Cultures of the Middle East (Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1983), 211-239.

This chapter discusses the concepts of honour and shame as values that inform aspects of individual behaviour and impart meaning to the lives of people in the Middle East. Crucial to these values is the idea that a man's honour is predicated largely on his ability to control the behaviour, especially sexual, of his womenfolk. This control involves a code of sexual modesty and the seclusion of women. Institutions that foster male domination and sexual segregation have accordingly become fundamental to the social order. While concepts of honour and shame are widespread among numerous Mediterranean peoples, what distinguishes them in the Middle East is the extent to which they are reflected in social institutions and form an explicit basis for social action.

Brand, A. L., Women, the State and Political Liberalization, Middle Eastern and North African Experiences (Columbia University Press, 1998), 132-139.

This chapter summarises experiences of women’s organising and the evolution of women's legal status in Jordan. Early women's organisations were primarily limited to charitable work which were viewed as apolitical and less threatening by a male dominated society. Women's issues were further considered secondary due to the focus on the Palestinian national struggle.  The chapter outlines various laws which discriminate against women and transmit the message that economic, social and political control rests with men. It details external influences, particularly concerning women's right to vote and the funding of women's empowerment projects. The article also details reports of honour crimes, which are rising in number and for which lenient sentences are generally given. It postulates that honour crimes in fact often have economic motives, or are committed to hide incest. Efforts to address domestic violence and honour crimes come primarily from unofficial circles and include regular coverage of these issues in the English-language press and activities by women's NGOs.

Brooks, G., Nine Parts of Desire: The Hidden World of Islamic Women (Penguin Books Ltd, 1995), 49-53.

This book examines the position of Muslim women in Muslim majority countries focussing upon their rights, duties and responsibilities.  It questions how Islam defines notions of equality and justice and considers whether Muslim women are ‘equal’ within the family, community and wider society.  The issue of honour killings is addressed to illustrate how Muslim women are subject to customary norms and values which control female sexuality and sexual behaviour. Honour killings are practised in order to wipe away the shame a woman may impose on her family by committing adultery or transgressing familial norms and customs.  Such killings transcend class divisions: for example, a princess in Saudi Arabia was killed for resisting an arranged marriage. The practice however tends to be most prevalent among the poorer and less educated families.

B’Tselem, ‘Morality, Family Honour and Collaboration’ in Collaborators in the Occupied Territories: Human Rights Abuses and Violations, The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, (January 1994), 89-99.

This article documents how members of certain PLO affiliated groups during the Intifada, acting as a kind of ‘morality police’ , took action against those who were deemed to have transgressed ‘traditional social norms’.  Prostitution was seen as corrupting society and playing into the hands of the Israeli authorities.  During the six-year period of the Intifada over a hundred women were killed on suspicion of collaboration and ‘immoral behaviour’.  The concept of ‘family honour’ thus took on a national significance.  Women whose behaviour was considered immoral were accused of damaging the family and national honour and thus weakening the national struggle.  The report also includes five testimonies relating to women killed during the Intifada for transgressing traditional norms and values.

Dodd, P. C., ‘Family Honor and the Forces of Change in Arab Society’ in International Journal of Middle Eastern Studies, 4 (1973), 40-54.

Discussion focuses upon how the notion of honour, termed as ‘ird’, operates within Arab society, especially in rural areas.  It is based on a secular value rather than a religious one and is an attribute both of individuals and a group.  A man is considered to have honour but it is in large part a reflection of the honour of his family and his lineage.  The precise limits of the lineage of honour are not defined, although it is clear that it is traced exclusively through male kin.  Male members of the family and extended family enforce of the norms of honour. One major process of change, that of urbanisation, appears to have had relatively little impact on the valuation of honour.  Other processes of change, such as political revolution and military warfare, result in the suspension of the honour code but not in its abolition.  However, a process such as education appears to promise substantial changes in the valuation of honour.

Goodenough, P., ‘Blood and Honour’, Middle East Digest, February 1995, 1-5.

This article discusses a number of cases in the Palestinian West Bank and Gaza, where women who have attempted to flee violent families have been killed.  Local police agents are reported to collude with male members of the community to murder women. For example, Yasser Arafat’s Fatah faction includes ‘decency squads’ who assume the role of enforcers of family honour, searching for and often inventing pretexts for dealing with women perceived as ‘troublesome’.  Women are killed in the name of honour for a variety of reasons including rumours of an illicit romance or impropriety, ‘immodest’ behaviour or dress, associating with men suspected of collaborating with the Israeli authorities, divorce and pre-marital relationships with men.  Often little evidence exists against the women but only the death of the woman is seen to restore the family honour. 

Hamzeh-Muhaisen, M., ‘Violence against Women: Who Will Stop the Men?’ Palestine Report, October 10, 1997, 18-10.

This article documents the rise of violence against women in the West Bank including  the refugee camps.  It presents a number of case studies to illustrate the inability of victims to report crimes such as rape and sexual assault due to threats of violence and the very real danger of victims being murdered.  Existing legislation is seen to be largely ineffective in prosecuting those who murder in the name of ‘honour’; and is in fact designed to protect those who kill.  Those working to eliminate violence against women argue existing laws themselves embody notions of honour.

Ilkkaracan, P., ‘Exploring the Context of Women’s Sexuality in Eastern Turkey’, Reproductive Health Matters 6(12) (1998), 66-74.

This article describes customary and religious laws and beliefs and their impact on both rural and urban women in Eastern Turkey.  In an unusual move in 1926, the Turkish Civil Code banned polygamy and granted women equal rights in matters of divorce, child custody and inheritance. However, based on a study of 599 women from Eastern Turkey, this article concludes that early marriage and polygamy are still prevalent, religious marriage takes place earlier than civil marriage although the former is not legally binding, forced marriages occur and arranged marriages are predominant. More than half of all married women surveyed are subject to domestic and sexual violence. The fear of honour killing is prevalent and a majority of women surveyed thought they would be killed by their husbands and/or families if suspected of improper sexual behaviour.

Kocturk, T., A Matter of Honour -- Experiences of Turkish Women Immigrants (London: Zed Books, 1992), 33-58.

This chapter discusses how Islam defines the role and position of women within contemporary Turkish society.  It first provides a historical overview of the development and evolution of Islam and outlines the conflict and diversity within Muslim communities, thus providing a contextual background to the practice of Islam in Turkey today.  The second part of the chapter then focuses on the position of women within Islam.  The public/private dichotomy is fiercely maintained and male members of the Muslim household are obliged to determine acceptable patterns of behaviour for women members. Islamic law affords women limited choice and autonomy, and the system of patriarchal control it maintains is backed up by the ‘honour ethic’.  This ethic, though it may be traced back to the pre-Islamic period, continues to remain in force and operates to control female sexuality.  The honour of the male members of the community is considered to be directly linked to the chastity of women.  Obedient women are accorded respect and admiration.  The honour ethic is so valued that male members of the family resort to murder to protect its practice.  Women internalise this ‘ethic’ and recognise that to challenge its practice would bring a loss of respectability for themselves and their families.  They are complicit in its survival and a case study of a Turkish case is provided to illustrate this point.

Marcus, M., ‘Horsemen are the Fence of the Land: Honor and History among the Ghiyata of Eastern Morocco’ in Gilmore, D. D.(ed.), Honor and Shame and the Unity of the Mediterranean (Washington DC: American Anthropological Association 1987) no.2, 49-59.

This article uses historical data to shed light on the conception of honour among the Ghiyata, an Arabic-speaking tribe of eastern Morocco. The Ghiyata elaborated an ideology of honour that involved aggression as a principle for governing and legitimising the allocation of strategic resources. While not wishing to minimise the importance of the honour and shame complex to Mediterranean male dominance and codes of sexual behaviour, the author emphasises its relationship to wealth and 'fiscal sexuality.' With the early 20th century disappearance of the Ghiyata's quasi-feudal relations of production and ensuing changes in tribal organisation, their conception of honour changed to emphasise generalised moral imperatives over feuding. This article argues that it is inaccurate to posit for the Mediterranean region a timeless and universally applicable definition of honour and its modes of realisation. Instead, more historical work is required to specify the social purposes that people have represented to themselves as the pursuit of honour.

Moghaizel, L., ‘The Arab and Mediterranean World: Legislation Towards Crimes of Honor’ in Schuler, M., (ed.), Empowerment and the Law: Strategies of Third World Women (Washington DC: OEF International 1986), 75-78.

This article examines legislative measures dealing with crimes of honour in the Arab world (Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Syria and Tunisia) and five Mediterranean countries (Spain, Italy, France, Portugal and Turkey). Penal codes in Jordan, Lebanon and Syria completely absolve a person who surprises another in the act of adulterous flagrante delicto from the penalty of his subsequent actions, including murder. Other Arab countries do not provide absolute defences for men who kill their wives in such situations, but these men nonetheless receive reduced sentences. The Syrian and Lebanese penal codes recognise a further defence of ‘questionable attitude’, thus permitting a man accused of murdering his wife or sister to claim in mitigation that her actions had marred the family honour. The Spanish, Portuguese and Turkish penal codes also provide a partial excuse for crimes of honour, while similar measures earlier applicable in Italy and France have since been abolished. The article concludes that as these measures discriminate against women and are in violation of international law, they must be abolished.

Moghaizel, F. and Abdelsatir, M., Crimes of Honour: A Legal Study (Lebanon, Joseph Walur Moghaizel Institute, 1999) [Arabic Text].

This study, with special reference to the previous work of Laure Moghaizel on this subject, details the developments in Lebanese law regarding ‘crimes of honour’ -- culminating in the 1999 amendment to the Penal Code. After setting out relevant extracts from the penal codes of other Arab states, the study examines 36 ‘honour’-related rulings from Lebanese courts in the period 1995 - April 1998; an appendix sets out the text of the draft law amending the Penal Code.

Negus, S., ‘Rape and Marriage’, Middle East International, May 21, 1999, 19.

Until recently Article 291 of the Egyptian Penal Code stipulated that all charges would be dropped in a rape case, if the accused and the complainant agreed to marry.  On 20 April 1999, legislation was passed by the People’s Assembly to repeal this provision.  This article discusses the possible impact of this change in legislation upon women in Egypt.  It traces the problematic relationship between traditional customary values, the state and the role of religious bodies in upholding values of ‘honour’ and ‘shame’.  It questions the limitations of legislation in providing support for women escaping violence. It argues that codes of honour are deeply entrenched within society and that the state must therefore actively introduce measures to eliminate discrimination against women.

Odeh, L. A., ‘Crimes of Honour and the Construction of Gender in Arab Societies’ in Yamani, M., (ed.), Feminism and Islam: Legal and Literary Perspectives (Ithaca Press, 1996),141-194.

This article discusses crimes of honour in the Arab world. A crime of honour is defined as the killing of a woman by her father or brother for engaging in, or being suspected of engaging in, sexual practices before or outside marriage. The article attempts to identify the role that these crimes play in the production and reproduction of gender relations in contemporary Arab life. It contends that these relations are the outcome of a complex triangular interaction between social violence, the crime of honour itself and state violence. The legal field through codification has had the effect of modernising the traditional practice of crimes of honour by defining the limits of its practice, sanctioning it in certain cases, and penalising the violators in others.  The article also argues that Arab legal systems have aimed to contain the practice of crimes of honour whilst recognising the emergence of subservient sexual types.

Shalhoub-Kevorkian, N., ‘Crimes of War, Culture and Children's Rights: The Case of Female Palestinian Detainees Under Israeli Military Occupation’ in Douglas, G. and Leslie, S., (eds.), Children's Rights and Traditional Values (Dartmouth: Ashgate, 1988), 230-250.

This paper examines the issue of Palestinian girl children detainees under Israeli military occupation, particularly during the Intifada (popular uprising). In discussing the relationship between children's rights and social justice, and its implementation within certain cultural contexts, it emphasises the connection between gender, patriarchy and the political activism of Palestinian girls. Girls as well as women took part in the national struggle against Israeli occupation, thereby challenging the social and cultural definition of female roles within Palestinian society and contradicting traditional beliefs concerning the need to preserve and protect women's honour. This study introduces empirical data and case studies of Palestinian girl children arrested by Israeli authorities, who exploited the traditional Arab notion of female sexual purity as a political weapon against the former. Upon their release from prison, girl children frequently faced cautious and suspicious social reactions and some families took measures to limit the dangers to which they felt their daughters were exposed. This resulted in a drop in marriage age for girls and attempts by various segments of the community to protect women by hiding them away and curbing their activities.

Shalhoub-Kevorkian, N., ‘The Politics of Disclosing Female Sexual Abuse: A case study of Palestinian Society’, Child Abuse & Neglect, Vol.23, No.12, 1999,1-19.

This paper argues that by understanding the socio-cultural and political context within which disclosure or non-disclosure of sexual abuse takes place, we are better able to develop an analytical framework that might shape culturally sensitive social policy towards sexual abuse and thereby reduce its incidence.  The data for this study was extracted from records available on 38 cases of sexually abused Palestinian girls and interviews conducted with victims and their parents.  The data revealed that acknowledgement of sexual abuse took place only in situations where the abuse was extremely traumatic, publicly apparent, and the victim was absolved of blame.  Disclosure resulted in approximately 10% of the cases in the killing of the victim.  Responses involving measures such as hymen reconstruction, marriage to the rapist, and abortion were used by family and society to ‘nullify’ sexual abuse.  The intricacies bearing on the decision to disclose or not disclose sexual abuse are discussed within a socio-cultural and political frame of reference

Shalhoub-Kevorkian, N., ‘Towards a Cultural Definition of Rape: Dilemmas in dealing with Rape Victims in Palestinian Society’, Women’s Studies International Forum, Vol. 22, No.2, 1999, 157-173.

Although rape is a cross-cultural crime, stemming primarily from patriarchal ideologies and gender power, the analysis of its effect on victims from various cultural groups remains to be unveiled.  This study analyses dilemmas that face mental health workers when dealing with rape victims within a specific cultural context, namely that of Palestinian society.  It demonstrates the multidimensionality of the crime and the intricacy of social relations to rape, the rape victim, and the abuse of women, deriving from a socio-cultural need to protect and/or control victims.  This in-depth analysis suggests that socio-cultural determinants, such as the need to silence attempts to speak out about the occurrence of the rape, preserve female virginity, and privatize the crime in order to safeguard family honour and reputation, revictimize and weaken the victim.  This article argues that there is no universal method of dealing with rape victims and that professionals who are assisting victims of rape need to anchor their efforts within the cultural context, while at the same time treating each victim as a world unto herself.  This calls for rethinking at both the socio-political and the individual levels.

Shalhoub-Kevorkian, N., ‘Law, Politics and Violence Against Women: A Case Study of Palestinians in Israel’, Law & Policy, Vol.21, No.2, April 1999,189-209.

This study examines the utility of law enforcement in the context of violence against women and emphasises the relationship between gender, culture and politics.  It points to the difficulties arising from the shift from private, traditional methods of dealing with violence against women to a more public approach characterised by intervention of the state and the criminal justice system.  It argues that the enforcement of the ‘Israeli Law against Family Violence’ among the oppressed and discriminated Palestinian minority generates new conflicts within the group, exacerbating control and abuse and re-victimising women.  Interviews with officials reveal their perceptions and attitudes regarding the applicability of such a law.  An attempt is made to show that application of the law without prior preparation and understanding of its socio-cultural and political ramifications may produce adverse effects at the victim’s expense.  Unless power struggles, cultural pressures and political priorities are taken into consideration, criminal strategies that seek to eliminate abuse may prove to result in further harm to women.

Tucker, J. E., In the House Of Law -- Gender and Islamic Law in Ottoman Syria and Palestine (University of California Press, 1998), 148-178.

This chapter examines the Islamic legal discourse on sexuality in Ottoman Syria and Palestine. This discourse focused on ways in which female sexuality could be regulated, reproduction controlled and transgressions punished. Sexual desire was to be curbed by eliminating situations in which illicit relations could develop and through the imposition of heavy sanctions for transgressions. It was unlawful intercourse that could result in illegitimate births that was condemned; the control of sexuality was thus exercised to minimize social conflict and above all, to oversee reproduction. The identity and paternity of children were seen as being key components of a strong patrilineal family and social system. The muftis denied family members any defined role in the punishment of a woman for sexual crimes, which were defined as crimes against religion and not an offence against the family. However, the virtual absence of court cases involving this issue demonstrates that a family's monopoly over the sexuality and reproduction of its women, which underlined most political and economic arrangements, was not surrendered to the courts.

Warnock, K., Land Before Honour: Palestinian Women in the Occupied Territories (London: Macmillan, 1990), 19-34.

This chapter explores how women in traditional Palestinian society were viewed within a framework of an ideology of family, honour and chastity. Within this framework, men were expected to protect female family members from dangers, especially sexual impurity. Society's ideal of honour, its perception of women and the requirement for female sexual modesty were seen to be connected. The honour of families, particularly the virtue of their women, was accepted as being the responsibility of the entire community. Since this honour was a matter of external appearance, it consisted precisely in what other people said and was therefore open to continuous public scrutiny and judgement. While women's freedom was thus limited, they had a respected place in a viable social system that could not have survived so long without the women themselves internalising this ideology of honour.

Zied, A. A. M., ‘Honour and Shame among the Bedouins of Egypt’ in Peristiany, J. G., (ed.), Honour and Shame: The Values of Mediterranean Society (Chicago, 1966) 243-260.

Honour and shame are closely associated with kinship relations within the Bedouin community in Egypt.  These concepts only have specific meanings if they are understood within the context of the community in which they operate.  Thus, for example, the Bedouin community is patriarchal and the notion of honour is closely associated with the strong powerful male.  It is men who occupy the dominant social position in all aspects and activities of life.  A study of the ‘bonds and values’ embedded within kinship highlights the importance of such notions of ‘honour’ and ‘shame’. Male pride and the maintenance of lineage embody the concepts of honour and shame and ensure its survival.  Women preserve the honour of the community and therefore play a vital role in its operation.  The reputation of a woman and the community depends mainly on her willingness to observe the rigid rules governing sexual relationships and her ability to preserve her chastity.

d) Asia/South Asia

Ali, S. S., ‘Is an Adult Muslim Woman Sui Juris? Some Reflections on the Concept of ‘Consent in Marriage’ without a Wali (with particular reference to the Samia Waheed case)’, (1996) 3 YIMEL, 30-43.

The article discusses the question arising from the Saima Waheed judgment in Pakistan regarding the capacity of an adult Muslim woman to enter into a valid contract of marriage without the consent of her guardian.  Issues addressed include whether parents have a right to be obeyed and whether this right of obedience is judicially enforceable, whether marriage in Islam is a civil contract or not and whether permission of the guardian is necessary for a valid  nikah (Islamic marriage).  An overview is provided of the definition of the institution of marriage in Islam, the nature, capacity, form and requisites of a valid contract of marriage.  A section is devoted to the concept of guardianship in marriage in Pakistan and the related right of khiyar ul-bulugh (option of puberty) and how statute law has impacted on  the traditional Islamic norms surrounding this concept. Also discussed is the interaction and interplay between Islamic law, statutory law and customary norms and practices in relation to the issue of equality within marriage.  It is argued that  black letter law is not the sole determinant of what, when and how women’s rights are recognised and conceded in a legally pluralistic society such as Pakistan and that customary practices and societal norms hold sway over and influence dispute resolution, whether formal or informal.

Amnesty International, Pakistan: Women's Human Rights Remain a Dead Letter: No Progress Towards the Realization of Women's Rights After the Ratification of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, March 1997, AI Index: ASA 33/07/97.

This Report notes that Pakistan ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination on 12 March 1996, with the reservation that no provision which conflicts with the Constitution of Pakistan would be adopted. Despite the international obligation to amend or repeal domestic laws which conflict with the Convention and to ensure the end of discriminatory practices, the Government of Pakistan has taken no effective steps to end discrimination against women. The Report also lists the measures that were to have been adopted to improve the status of women in 1996, but which had still not come into force at the time that the Report was prepared. The Report also discusses the Zina Ordinance of 1979 which encompasses zina, rape and abduction for the purpose of committing a sexual offence. Zina and rape attract different punishments according to the evidence on which the conviction is based.  The Zina Ordinance clearly breaches requirements of the  Convention. Charges of zina and rape may also be wrongly brought against couples in Pakistan on the basis of discriminatory interpretations of the family law which could lead to  imprisonment, cruel punishment or even a death sentence.  The Report calls on the Government to abolish the Zina Ordinance and ensure that all legal safeguards available under the law to women in custody are implemented and to abolish in all circumstances all cruel, inhuman and degrading punishments including the death penalty for women as a step towards the eventual abolition of the death penalty.

Amnesty International, Pakistan: No Progress on Women's Rights, September 1998, AI Index: ASA 33/13/98.

This report is an update to Amnesty International’s previous report of March 1997 (see above).  Despite the passage of another year, the Government of Pakistan appears not to have acted upon its commitments.  This report outlines developments relating to the status of women during the  year and a half following the earlier report. It calls on the Government of Pakistan to consider urgently the report issued by the Commission of Inquiry for Women which it had established. It also describes the lack of progress in women's political participation, in employment and education. The report then looks at the abuses suffered by women in the custody of the state, in the family and in the wider social context. In the period under review, torture, including rape in police custody, remained widespread but under-reported, under-prosecuted and under-punished. Domestic violence continued to be viewed as a domestic affair; only in cases of particularly extreme cruelty did the media report it and police take action. Many women in Pakistan became victims of criminal violence, including rape. Dozens of women were killed on the mere allegation of harming the family's or clan's honour. Others were harassed and sometimes criminally prosecuted and/or killed for choosing their own marriage partners; the killings were sometimes sanctioned by tribal councils or jirgas. Police frequently failed to register complaints of rape, honour killings, domestic violence and other forms of abuse. In some instances, they concealed evidence and turned a blind eye to perpetrators threatening victims into dropping charges against them. Judicial decisions sometimes reflected insensitivity to women's issues and contributed to a climate in which women's rights continue to be abused with impunity.

Amnesty International, Pakistan: Violence against Women in the Name of Honour, 22 September 1999, AI Index: ASA 33/17/99.

This is a full report on honour killings in Pakistan, setting out the context in which honour killings occur. The Report states that every year in Pakistan hundreds of women, of all ages and in all parts of the country, are reported killed in the name of honour. Many more cases go unreported. Almost all go unpunished. The lives of millions of women in Pakistan are circumscribed by traditions which enforce extreme seclusion and submission to men. Male relatives virtually own them and punish contraventions of their proprietary control with violence. For the most part, women submit to traditional male control over every aspect of their bodies, speech and behaviour, but exposure to media, the work of women's groups and a greater degree of mobility have seen the beginnings of women's rights awareness seep into the secluded world of women. But if women begin to assert their rights, however tentatively, the response is harsh and immediate: the curve of honour killings has risen parallel to the rise in awareness of rights.

Amnesty International, Pakistan: Honour Killings of Girls and Women, 22 September 1999, AI Index: ASA 33/18/99.

This report is part of a series issued by Amnesty International on the rights of women in Pakistan; it is the first to look at abuses of women's rights by private actors. The report describes the different facets of the phenomenon of honour killings in Pakistan. It looks at the traditions that form the framework of such killings, particularly the commodification of women and the notion of honour. The report highlights the failure of the authorities in Pakistan to prevent honour killings by investigating and punishing the perpetrators. Both police and judges display gender bias in favour of men who have killed women or girls for alleged breaches of honour. The Government of Pakistan, despite commitments to protect women's rights after ratification of CEDAW, has taken no measures to amend discriminatory laws which obstruct redress, to remove contradictory legal regimes adversely affecting women's rights, or to ensure gender sensitisation of the police and judiciary.  The report makes a series of recommendations to the Government of Pakistan to fulfil its obligation to provide effective protection to women against violence perpetrated in the name of honour and to end the impunity currently enjoyed by its perpetrators.

Bangash, M. A., ‘Administrative Justice in the Tribal Areas’, in Journal of Law & Society Vol.XVIII, No.30, ( July 1997), 39-59.

This article outlines the three primary and interrelated components of justice administration in Pakistani tribal areas: the jirga system, political authority and the 1901 Frontier Crimes Regulation (FCR). The jirga, an indigenous arbitration body composed of respected community members, resolves disputes according to local custom requiring satisfaction of the aggrieved rather than punishment of the aggressor. Promulgated by the British, the FCR legally institutionalised the jirga and made both its composition and decisions subject to approval by political officers. This concentration of judicial and executive functions with a political officer was intended to establish a strong government and ensure cooperation with the colonial authorities. It is argued that the jirga is a useful medium which provides a sense of community participation in the relatively quick and inexpensive attainment of justice. However, it lacks external supervision and accountability while tribal affinity, required for its successful functioning, is disappearing. The article concludes that ordinary laws which safeguard fundamental human rights should apply in parallel to this existing system of justice.

Butalia, U., ‘Abducted and Widowed Women: Questions of Sexuality and Citizenship During Partition’ in Thapan, M., (ed.), Embodiment: Essays on Gender and Identity, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997), 90-106.

Focusing on questions of sexuality and citizenship, this article examines the experiences of women who were abducted or widowed during the 1947 Partition of India. India’s Central Recovery Operation was mounted to locate, recover and rehabilitate the approximately 33,000 Hindu and Sikh women abducted or forcibly married in Pakistan after 1 March 1947. India also established a women’s section of the Ministry of Relief and Rehabilitation to aid these women and the 75,000 women widowed because of the Partition. What differentiated these two groups was the former’s sexual contact with men of the ‘other’ community, perceived as resulting in a loss of male honour in the family, community and nation. The Central Recovery Operation was a relative failure (only 8,000 women were returned) primarily due to the refusal of many families to accept their women, now seen to be polluted from this contact, and the children resulting from these mixed unions. This sexual chaos reflected the chaos experienced by the nation and it became imperative to restore order, either by regulating female sexuality within the family or by the state. Women now became crucial , for by protecting them, the state was perceived as protecting its national honour. Women were thus constructed differently from men; not as citizens in their own right, but as mothers, sisters and wives who had to be both protected and rehabilitated.

Commission of Inquiry for Women, Report, Government of Pakistan (August 1997), 87-88.

This Commission was set up in 1997 by the then Government of Pakistan to review all existing laws in Pakistan which are discriminatory to women and affect their rights being equal citizens of Pakistan. A section of the report analyses how customary practices oppress Pakistani women, and how such practices are condoned both by local communities and the state.  The report notes that the practice of karo kari (which decrees that any man or woman who has an illicit relationship dishonours the tribe and must be punished with death) often targets women, and refers to research in the Sindh province indicating that the police rarely arrest and convict offenders in such cases.  It notes that honour killings are rooted in the cultural and patriarchal perceptions of the ownership of women and that a woman’s body is seen as the repository of family honour.  The report recommends that there should be no mitigation of sentence in cases of ‘honour killings’.

Das, V., ‘National Honour and Practical Kinship: Of Unwanted Women and Children’ in Critical Events: An Anthropological Perspective on Contemporary India (Oxford University Press, 1995), 53-83.

Analysis focuses on how concepts of purity and honour function in the sphere of kinship as well as in constituting the nation.  The basis of the analysis is the stories of women who were abducted and sexually violated during the widespread riots accompanying the Partition of India in 1947. The sexual and reproductive violence to which women were subjected cannot be understood as belonging only to the discourse of family: it has to be understood as doubly articulated in the domains of kinship and politics.  The author puts forward two questions: firstly, does the state produce its own codes of honour and shame, or purity and pollution, when it comes to undesirable children and secondly, are these codes then adopted by the order of the family as the codes of Indian society? This fragment of South Asian history points to the fact that, in periods of collective violence such as war, insurgency and widespread communal riots, women can come to the centre of consciousness as an abstract category and the regulation of their sexuality and reproductive functions can become visibly a matter of state.

Dhagamwar, V., Law, Power and Justice (New Delhi: Sage Publications, 1992), 303-310.

This chapter discusses the extent to which courts in India appear to take into consideration the ‘character’ and ‘sexual ethics’ of women victims in determining sentences in homicide cases.  Analysis of three murder cases illustrates how the Indian Supreme Court often commutes the death penalty in favour of a life sentence if a man alleges that he has killed due to loss of his ‘honour’.  Analysis of case law further reveals patriarchal attitudes towards women, and implicit acceptance of the notion of family honour as residing in the body and behaviour of women.

Geetha, V., ‘On Bodily Love and Hurt’ in John M. and Nair J., (eds.), A Question of Silence? The Sexual Economies of Modern India (New Delhi: Kali For Women, 1998), 304-331.

This chapter examines ‘woman battering’ within the family and outlines how this practice embodies notions of honour and female sexuality. ‘Battering’ is symptomatic of the sexuality of everyday life as women experience it in the context of marriage and the family.  Drawing upon the experience of women from the district of Snehidi in India, it is argued that constructions of female sexuality and honour operate to determine the subordinate position of women. Understanding masculinity is central to understanding how husbands represent their familial, economic and social status and power within the family. Suspicion within marital relationships is used by men to control female independence.  A husband may accuse his wife of promiscuity, call into question her ‘honour’, her competence as a good, chaste wife and dutiful mother and keep the children away from her.  Women are often killed in the name of honour in order for men to assert their superiority both within the community and family.

Haeri, S., ‘The Politics of Dishonour: Rape and Power in Pakistan’ in Afkhami, M., Faith and Freedom, Women’s Human Rights in the Muslim World, (I.B. Tauris & Co Ltd, 1995), 161-174.

This chapter discusses how notions of ‘honour’ and ‘shame’ operate in Pakistan to prevent women from reporting incidents of rape to the police.  It examines a number of cases of rape which are historically located and defined as culturally specific to the socio-political context of Pakistani society.  ‘Political rape’, the term given to highlight this phenomenon is  defined as a modern improvisation on the theme of ‘feudal’ or ‘honour rape’. It is argued that rape is used as a political tool against women to dishonour and shame the whole family.  One case study reveals how rape victims are unable to report crimes due to the fear of political persecution and that justice is sought by resorting to the tribal jirga, a practice condoned by the state.  Once the rape has taken place, the notions of ‘honour’ and ‘shame’ are seen to come into play in their most extreme form, as male members of the family and community encourage the victim to commit suicide, as death is seen as the only way in which the honour of the family can be salvaged. As women’s honour is seen to be inextricably linked to family honour, rape is used against rival political factions to ‘dishonour’ and humiliate the whole family. The concepts of ‘honour’ rape and ‘political’ rape are thus shown to be inextricably linked.

Human Rights Watch, Crime or Custom? Violence against Women in Pakistan (August 1999), 30-31 & 40-45.

The report is based on research conducted in Lahore and Karachi and documents  how the state in Pakistan fails to protect the rights of women victims of violence and denies them justice.  Violence against women is treated as an accepted custom rather than a serious crime.  Honour killings are documented as a form of intra-family violence which is condoned by the state.  The report notes that in such cases, the police fail to arrest suspects and the courts pass lenient sentences whilst embodying notions of morality, honour and shame in their judgements.  It calls for widespread reforms within the police and the judicial system to ensure that violence against women in Pakistan is addressed by the state, ensuring changes to domestic law and implementing international human rights standards.

Menon, R. and Bhasin, K., ‘Abducted Women, the State and Questions of Honour’ in Jayawardena, K. and de Alwis, M. (eds.), Embodied Violence, Communalising Women's Sexuality in South Asia (India: Kali for Women, 1996), 1-31.

This article examines the partition of India through the hitherto absent voices of women made destitute by the event. More specifically, this article reviews the Central Recovery Operation of India, carried out between 1948-1956, which recovered approximately 30,000 women who had been abducted, forcibly converted and married during the upheaval, and restored them to their families and countries, for example, India and Pakistan. Material is presented in the voices of the government, the women themselves and the social workers involved in the rehabilitation and resettlement of the recovered women. It is argued that the State, in its articulation of gender identity and public policy, underlined the primacy of community identity and departed from its neutrality in assigning values to the ‘legitimate’ family and community ‘honour’ and that it did so through a regulation of women’s sexuality. The construction of woman first and foremost defined her as member of a community and invested her with full responsibility for upholding community honour. It also denied women autonomy by further defining them as victims of a transgression that violated the most critical site of patriarchal control – their sexuality. The article additionally questions why the matter of national honour was so closely bound up with the bodies of women and children born of what were seen as ‘wrong’ marriages.

Palmer, M., ‘The People’s Republic of China: Problems of Marriage and Divorce’ in Journal of Family Law Volume 27, No.1(1988-89), 57-79.

In the post-Mao era, the Chinese State has assigned an increasingly important social role to the family and sought to intrude deeply into family life. However China’s economic policies have led to an increased conflict between traditional and modernist positions, defined as a conflict between ‘bourgeois liberalism’and ‘feudalism’.  In the light of social and economic developments, the authorities have been more prepared to revise family law rules.  It has been difficult to apply existing family law rules in the rural areas.  Marriages contracted below the required minimum ages and forced marriages are considered to be the most important problems.  Local state officials collude with family members by withholding marriage certificates. Such practices rarely attract punitive measures, and the practice continues largely unnoticed.  Women embody the honour and prestige of the family and community and may be killed if they are considered to have failed to comply with accepted norms and customs.  Discussion of the laws of divorce, property rights, custody and the pressure on women to bear sons (through the one child family programme) illustrate the problematic position of women in China.

Sarwar, B., ‘…On Suspicion of Illicit Relations’ in Davis, M.(ed.), Women and Violence (London: Zed Books, 1994), 220-222.

This short chapter discusses honour killings in Haripur, Sindh in Pakistan.  It focuses on a discussion with a local lawyer and his defence of a man who killed a young woman on suspicion of her having an illicit relationship. It discusses the position of women within the area and the strong patriarchal traditions embedded within local society. Women have few education opportunities and the public/private dichotomy is enhanced and strictly maintained.  If women choose to challenge social norms they may face the risk of death. The state fails adequately to address such cases, and often family and friends conspire to protect the murderer.

Sen, S., ‘Offences Against Marriage’ in John, M. E. & Nair, J. (eds.),  A Question of Silence? The Sexual Economies of Modern India, (New Delhi: Kali For Women, 1998), 77-110.

This chapter traces the development of criminal laws relating to marriage in India from the early twentieth century.  It examines the relationship between economic developments, customary laws and the imperial control.  The first section of the paper deals with some of the issues involved in the definition and categorisation of plural marriage practices in India.  The second section deals with the problems faced in implementing the criminal provisions that were codified in the mid-nineteenth century.  The third section discusses the overlap between criminal/penal enforcement of the marriage contract and immigration legislation.  The prioritisation of the marriage contract placed many restrictions on women’s mobility.  In both penal and immigration law, the marriage contract was privileged in favour of the husband, and wives were denied the right to escape unhappy marriages by flight, divorce or migration.

Shah, N., ‘Faislo -- The Informal Settlement System’ in Shirkat Gah, Shaping Women's Lives: Laws, Practices and Strategies in Pakistan (Lahore: Shirkat Gah, 1998), 227-252.

Based on research carried out in interior Sindh, this paper looks at the traditional forum of settlement, faislo, prevalent in the area.  The paper details the structure and mode of functioning of the faislo institution, apparently one of the strengths of the tribal system.  Over the years the faislo system has not only survived, but has adapted to changed circumstances, impacting on both the state justice system, and the communities which use the informal settlements.  The paper, which includes case studies, looks at how women are used in the settlement and how the concept of honour is used in the tribal definition of crime and compensation, as well as at the background of the relationship between women and honour and its association with women’s bodies.

Shaheed, F., ‘Engagements of Culture, Customs and Law: Women's Lives and Activism’, in Shirkat Gah, Shaping Women's Lives: Laws, Practices and Strategies in Pakistan (Lahore: Shirkat Gah, 1998), 61-80.

This chapter argues that both customs and law are intricately linked to culture and flow from existing structures of power.  Though distinguishable one from the other, culture, customs and law operate in a linked fashion and together define the space and rights available to women.  Drawing on the experience of Shirkat Gah Women’s Resource Centre, it looks at the implications of this understanding for activism. It argues that converting women’s struggles for survival into workable strategies for transforming a patriarchal society into a more gender-equitable one requires more than small initiatives.  These initiatives must be pursued on a much larger scale in order to address the political framework within which the process takes place.  Networks can accelerate this process by sharing successful strategies for change. Women and human rights groups can provide mutual support from each other, and by an increased awareness of both common and diverse situations confronting women.

Shaheed, F., ‘The Experience in Pakistan’ in Davis, M. (ed.), Women and Violence (London: Zed Books, 1994), 213-219.

This chapter documents the use of specific legislation, in particular the Hudood laws, and the law of Qisas and Diyat, in Pakistan, to erode women’s human rights and the independence of the judiciary.  Analysis of different types of gender specific violence is provided, including discussion of the use of rape as a political tool to dishonour male political opponents.  It is argued that the state has consistently failed to protect women’s human rights and at times condoned and perpetrated the violence through inaction and collusion with local communities. 

Shirkat Gah/Women Living Under Muslim Laws, ‘Chart of Customary Practices in Pakistan in Comparison with Statutory Law’, Women & Law Pakistan Country Project (Lahore: S.P Creative Design, 1995).

This manual provides a detailed analysis of the operation of both customary and statutory laws related to women in Pakistan.  It aims to raise women’s legal awareness and options by outlining practical solutions.  Part III of the manual deals with violence against women.  Here the issue of ‘honour killings’ is addressed and a number of examples are put forward to illustrate how men may murder in the name of ‘honour’ to avoid legal or social persecution.

Viswanath, K., ‘Shame and Control: Sexuality and Power in Feminist Discourse in India’, in Thapan. M., (ed.), Embodiment: Essays on Gender and Identity (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1997), 313-333.

Focusing on the concepts of honour and shame, this chapter analyses feminist discourse in India regarding the understanding of the female body. Anthropological studies have examined the female body and sexuality within symbolic systems, demonstrating how male and family honour is dependent upon control of female sexuality, perceived as insatiable and dangerous, and the spaces women can occupy. These discourses view honour and shame from the point of view of men and women as merely sites or symbols. The focus is thus not on shame as an individual emotion but as a principle of social organisation and relationships. The women’s movement has dealt with female sexuality primarily through the issues of rape and sexual violence. A woman who has been raped is seen as having completely lost her honour, and the honour of her family. In colloquial usage, women do not use the explicit Hindi word for rape (balaatkaar), using instead the phrase izzat lootna (losing one’s honour). Feminist discourse locates shame as a form of patriarchal power that is imposed upon women from outside and which must be resisted. However, this article argues that shame becomes part of a woman’s understanding or definition of self. The women’s movement could sharpen its politics if it incorporates an anthropological understanding of shame and honour as centrally defining women’s sexuality.

Case Summaries

(1) United Kingdom

Islam (AP) v Secretary of State for the Home Department; R v Immigration Appeal Tribunal Ex Parte Shah (AP), [1999] 2 WLR 1015, [1999] 2 All ER 545.

The conjoined appellants were two Pakistani married women who fled to the UK after suffering domestic violence in Pakistan. After being granted exceptional leave to remain in the UK, the appellants claimed refugee status according to Art 1A(2) of the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, 1951, as 'members of a particular social group'. Both appellants claimed that they faced the risk of being falsely accused of adultery in Pakistan by their husbands and that if they returned to Pakistan they would be subject to criminal proceedings for sexual immorality, which could lead to punishment by flogging or stoning to death.

The Court of Appeal dismissed their appeals against the Immigration Appeal Tribunal. In allowing the appeal, the House of Lords held inter alia that:

(1) Domestic violence and abuse of women is prevalent in Pakistan. However, the distinctive feature in these cases is that discrimination against women in Pakistan is partly tolerated and partly sanctioned by the state.

(2) It is accepted that each appellant has a well founded fear of persecution if returned to Pakistan and the issue therefore turns on the meaning and the application of the words 'persecution for reasons of … membership of a particular social group' in Art 1A(2).

(3) This reasoning covers Pakistani women because according to the legal and social conditions existing in Pakistan they are discriminated against on grounds of gender and as such are a social group unprotected by the state.

(4) Even if Pakistani women themselves are not a 'particular social group', the appellants are members of a more narrowly circumscribed group based on the unifying characteristics of gender, suspicion of adultery and lack of state protection.

Accordingly the decision of the Court of Appeal was set aside and the cases were remitted to the Immigration Appeal Tribunal.

(2) Pakistan

Mst Humaira v Malik Moazzam Ghayas Khokhar & Ors, (1999) 2 CHRLD 273
High Court, Lahore

Humaira, who was on pre-arrest bail, was arrested and beaten by the police whilst attempting to leave Pakistan with Mehmood Butt. She had previously been pursued to Karachi from Punjab and arrested there whilst attempting to flee her home. Her family claimed that she was the wife of M. Khokhar and they had pursued a number of strategies using the police to find and detain her. However, Humaira argued that her alleged marriage to M.Khokhar was a sham, formed under duress and at a later date than her actual marriage to Mehmood and therefore the former marriage was void. Thus, the petitioner, Humaira, claimed that the case registered against her under s 16 Offence of Zina (Enforcement of Hudood) Ordinance VII of 1979, based on statements of M.Khokhar and her brother, which were false and mala fide, should be quashed. 

In quashing the registered cases against Humaira, fining and jailing the police officer and ordering an investigation of the police officials connected with the case, it was held that:

(1) It is a settled proposition of law that in Islam a sui juris woman can contract nikah (marriage) of her own free will and a nikah performed under coercion is not valid in law.

(2) Where consent to a marriage is in dispute and a nikah nama, which is being challenged, is owned by a man and a woman who claim to be husband and wife, then the presumption of truth attaches to the nikah nama acknowledged by both spouses and not by the intervener.

(3) The alleged nikah with M.Khokhar has a number of aspects which prima facie create doubt in its authenticity of being first or having been performed with Humaira's consent. As the petitioner and Mehmood Butt have owned their nikah, a presumption of valid marriage would arise in their favour in view of s 268(c) of Mohammadan Law.

(4) This is in accordance with  Arts 4 and 25 of the Constitution, which guarantee that everybody shall be treated in accordance with the law and Art 35, which provides that the state shall protect marriage and the family.

(5) The precedent case law shows that this court has ample powers in its Constitutional jurisdiction to interfere where there is material on record to show that  a police investigation demonstrates either malice in law or fact. In the present case there is strong credence to the allegations of mala fide levelled against the police and state functionaries.

(6) The state functionaries became partners in a feudal vendetta notwithstanding the mandate of their office as the guardian of the equal protections of the lives, liberties and honour of the citizens. Further, the police officials obstructed the process of justice and committed a gross contempt of court in attempting to cover up their actual role in H's two arrests.

(7) By lying to the court, obstructing the process of justice when arresting Humaira despite her being on pre-arrest bail, the acting police officer is sentenced under s 3 of the Contempt of Courts Act to imprisonment for three months and a fine of Rs 5,000.

(3) Bangladesh

Rehana Begum vs Bangladesh  50 DLR (1998) 557-559.

Rehana Begum had been detained in judicial custody in Moulvibazar prison by an order dated 30-5-96 passed by the magistrate although she had committed no crime nor was there any allegation of any offence committed by her.  Rehana,  a British born national, was taken at the  age of 16  by her father from Britain to his village Raipur, District Moulvibazar in Bangladesh.  On arrival her British passport was taken away by him and he left for the UK.  Rehana was left in Bangladesh for an indefinite period in order for a prospective husband to be found.  She later married out of choice against her father’s wishes.  In fear of their lives the young couple went into hiding and only agreed to return once a verbal agreement had been reached that the issue would be resolved amicably.  The couple were arrested without warrant under section 54 of the Code of Criminal Procedue.  Rehana’s father alleged that she had been abducted, was of low mental capacity and minor when marriage took place thus rendering it illegal.  He also accused Rehana’s husband Isa Khan of rape. Isa Khan was sent to prison under the order pending a full hearing and Rehana Begum was sent to judicial custody.  Both her husband and father had made separate applications for her to be released into their custody.  Both applications had been refused and Rehana had remained in judicial custody until the issue of whether the marriage was genuine and legitimate could be resolved.

The petitioner, Rehana, claimed her detention in judicial custody was without any lawful authority and conducted in an unlawful manner by the police officer who arrested her and was therefore of no legal effect.

In overturning the order for detention of  Rehana in safe custody, it was held:

(1)   Rehana’s detention was without any lawful authority and she must be set free at once.

(2)   Rehana shall not leave Bangladesh without the permission of the Court in order for the case  filed by her father to be heard.


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