People have recently been tweeting at me for some clarification around the motivations of perpetrators of HBV. It’s something that is, emotionally, very hard to grasp: many parents and siblings can’t imagine deliberately inflicting violence upon a sister, daughter or niece because of a sense of shame.
We have to recognise that when we think that we’d show support and solidarity to a ‘shamed’ family member, we are saying this from a very different starting point: we are speaking as members of individualistic, loose-knit societies. Aref Abu-Rabia (2011, p. 38), says that the perpetration of an ‘honour’ killing should be considered ‘an organized social act by the family, not a matter of personal preference.’ Collectivist, tight-knit societies place much heaver burdens upon their members and have harsher responses to deviance. A loose-knit society might find a little deviance acceptable, even adding a pleasing touch of eccentricity and character, and there is more tolerance for a diversity of opinions. However, tight societies will tend to punish comparatively minor transgressions. The ‘tightest’ societies are often the most homogenous, those which have recent histories of agrarian production, and those which have experienced societal trauma like war and occupation. Read more
I recently wrote an article based on my case-file research into the distinctions between IPV and HBV which teased out some of the implications for risk assessment. (It should be published in the Journal of Interpersonal Violence sometime in 2014). This blog-post is building from that to talk about the current risk assessments being used around HBV — to give them a quick evaluation to see how well they work against the kind of experiences that came up in the case-file study, and just the rest of the general stuff I know. Read more
Now I’ve worked out how to use Garage Band, I can make my presentations available as podcasts as well as slidecasts. So take your pick!
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This is the follow up to my earlier post about forms of violence affecting Middle Eastern women in the UK.
‘Honour’ in transition
There is a gendered pattern of chain migration, especially predominant within communities where women have less liberties to travel alone, where a man arrives as an immigrant and later receives a bride from his country of origin. Many of the women I have researched for my earlier discussion of differences between HBV and IPV fit into this category: they are first generation immigrants, dependent upon their husbands financially and legally. Read more
Shafilea Ahmed’s sister claimed in court she saw both her parents take part in her murder
The terms ‘honour’ killing and ‘honour’-based violence (HBV) as they are used in the English speaking world have often been criticised. The criticism relates to two main points, firstly that ‘honour’ has positive connotations in English and can be seen to legitimise violence, and secondly, that demarcating certain crimes as having a basis in ‘honour’ separates them from other acts of violence, often with little more distinction than the ethnicity and religion of the perpetrators of the victim and the perpetrators, feeding a xenophobic discourse. These points are certainly worth raising, but there are pragmatic reasons why ‘honour’ remains a useful term.
Firstly, while there is definitely a tendency in the press to call an act of violence an ‘honour’ crime even when the most significant aspect of collectivity is missing, it is necessary in terms of the provision of protection for authorities to distinguish between threats against a vulnerable person which involve a single potential assailant, and those which involve a collective. The recent trial in the case of Shafilea Ahmed suggests that both parents played a part in her death, an example of collaboration which is common to many so-called ‘honour’ killings. Read more