top bar
speak truth to power
defenders images arts and human rights telling stories to effect change backstage pbs broadcast credits
defenders imagesorange  
 issue honor killings

"Honor Killings" is an ancient practice in which the male relatives kill their female relatives because of the suspicion that the women have engaged in forbidden sexual activity, even if it is not consensual; even if it is rape. In Afghanistan, along with the violations of basic human rights, women are frequently subject to sexual abuse, so "honor killings" for rape are common. The killings often remain a private family matter wherein the man is considered innocent, even a hero, and often walks free without any punishment.

The killings occur in countries all across the Middle East, as well as Pakistan. Although many people in those countries find the killings unacceptable, the practice persists. In fact, the practice still continues in Palestine in spite of legal prohibitions. Today, many women's organizations, especially in Palestine, Lebanon, and Jordan, are embarking on an active campaign against honor killings. Women's organizations in Palestine provide emergency assistance including counseling for victims, the Jordanian Women's Union set up a counseling center; and the Jordanian police force established a domestic violence division. Still, there is a long struggle ahead to eliminate this form of violence against women.


Organization Links:’s site on Honor Killings:
Information and resources on honor killings in Middle East and Pakistan.

Amnesty International page on honor killings:
Amnesty International’s page focuses on promoting women’s human rights and stopping honor killings in Pakistan.

Human Rights Commission of Pakistan:
Dedicated to human rights issues in Pakistan.

Jordanian National Committee for Women:
Formed in 1992 to promote women’s rights economically, politically, and socially.

Bibliography & Publication Links:

"A Matter of Honor" from ABC News Nightline:
Transcript available from the Nightline page. Pakistani women are murdered or set on fire by their fundamentalist husbands.

Crime or Custom: Violence Against Women in Pakistan
1999 report by Human Rights Watch

"In Pakistan, Women Pay the Price of ‘Honor’" by Pamela Constable
Washington Post Foreign Service. May 8, 2000.

"Women Victimization:"
An annual reminder from Equality Now.

back to top

Arts & Human Rights I Telling Stories to Effect Change
Backstage I PBS Broadcast I Credits I Home