Honor killings usually occur when a male member of a family decides that a female member has brought the family shame or dishonored the family in some way. There are a number of different reasons usually provided to authorities after these crimes have taken place. They include adultery, scantily clad clothing, a non-traditional relationship, defying the wishes of the father, or refusing to marry. Sometimes, young boys will be asked to carry out the murder because the legal consequences are less serious.
On occasion, an honor killing occurs after a woman has been raped. The father sees the rape as a disgrace that needs to be purged to guarantee the family’s honor.
In the United Kingdom, honor killings appear to be on the rise — but this could simply be due to the way in which statistics are gathered.
Chief Inspector Gerry Campbell said, “Young women are predominantly the victims of honor-based violence but we are seeing an increase in young men and boys — it’s now about 15 percent of the total numbers.”
But these numbers have exploded because authorities decided to reclassify some cases based on the motivations behind certain types of murders.
Crown Prosecutor Nazir Afzal said, “It will be about making sure we look for the signs so that we don’t miss cases.”
Due to the rise in honor killings over the last two decades, British authorities have introduced a slew of new laws designed to prevent arranged marriages and provide a legal means for victims in these types of unions to dissolve them free of legal consequence. A person found guilty of forcing another person into a marriage or union without consent could be incarcerated for up to two years and slammed with a hefty fine.
The laws were introduced in 2008 in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland — and at least 86 Forced Marriage Protection Orders were granted as a result.