A Few Words About Discrimination And Violence In The Name Of Honour

Discrimination, oppression, threats and violence in honour’s name are everyday realities for millions of young people worldwide. In some countries, violations against chastity lows can be punished with death. In Sweden, today, over 100,000 young people are living a life without being able freely decide on their possible love relationships (according to research by government’s investigation, Carin Götblad, 2014).

Following the cases of honour killings of Pela Atroshi (1999) and Fadime Sahindal (2002), the phenomenon of oppression and violence in honour’s name has created a strong emotional social debate in Sweden. The two young women and later on the ninety-year-old boy Abbas Rezai (2005) were murdered by close family members because these adolescents wanted to live their own lives but it was considered a disgrace for their family. Nevertheless, violence in the name of honour is often misinterpreted as “men’s violence against women”, thus the explanation is losing the important dimension of the collective discrimination and violence against children and adolescents, primarily daughters. This may be a prohibition of love relations, strict clothing codes, gender segregation, compulsion and childhood marriage. Also boys and young men affected. Gays and bisexuals are also discriminated.

The young people in question either internalize or simply submit to the values and requests of the family’s honour. Yet in many cases they try to live a double life, in secret. To “clean up the shame” that is to restore the family’s honour can also be solved by forcing a daughter to marry (for example).

When it comes to honour killings, these are just the tip of an iceberg. The UN and Amnesty state that there are approximately five thousand honour killings committed worldwide, annually. At the same time, it is well known that most honour killing cases are recorded as accidents or suicides. “Kitchen accidents”, acid throwing or forced suicide (like cases of so called “balcony girls”) are different forms of honour related violence.

All this could be prevented in a democracy if our politicians in power were to ensure that the culture-specific collective norms that are in conflict with the individual’s human rights were changed. These norms and values are not genetic, but learned socially. Yet fifteen years after the murder of Fadime Sahindal, several decision makers admit that “we are coward” thus repeating what Mona Sahlin, former minister of integration acknowledged: “I have been coward, we have let the immigrant girls down” – June 8, 2001, Dagens Nyheter.