Saturday, December 3, 2011

Charting the Differences Between "Domestic Violence" and "Honour Crimes"

In the wake of the revelations during the trial of the father, mother and son accused of the horrific mass "honour killings" of three Shafia sisters and their father's first (barren) wife, and the really bad PR that ensued, Canadian Muslims made a lot of noise about launching a campaign against "Domestic Violence." Purposely and pointedly, it was not a campaign to address "honour killings," which many Muslims refuse to accept as a poisonous outcropping of Islamic doctrine (even though, yes, yes, I know, such killings also occur within one or two non-Muslim "cultures"). However, two years ago Phyllis Chesler, who's an expert on the subject of "honour" crimes, compiled this helpful chart detailing the manifold and specific differences between these two categories of crime. Here it is:

Table 1: Differing Characteristics of Honor Killings and Domestic Violence
Honor KillingsDomestic Violence
Committed mainly by Muslims against Muslim girls/young adult women.Committed by men of all faiths usually against adult women.
Committed mainly by fathers against their teenage daughters and daughters in their early twenties. Wives and older-age daughters may also be victims, but to a lesser extent.Committed by an adult male spouse against an adult female spouse or intimate partner.
Carefully planned. Death threats are often used as a means of control.The murder is often unplanned and spontaneous.
The planning and execution involve multiple family members and can include mothers, sisters, brothers, male cousins, uncles, grandfathers, etc. If the girl escapes, the extended family will continue to search for her to kill her.The murder is carried out by one man with no family complicity.
The reason given for the honor killing is that the girl or young woman has "dishonored" the family.The batterer-murderer does not claim any family concept of "honor." The reasons may range from a poorly cooked meal to suspected infidelity to the woman's trying to protect the children from his abuse or turning to the authorities for help.
At least half the time, the killings are carried out with barbaric ferocity. The female victim is often raped, burned alive, stoned or beaten to death, cut at the throat, decapitated, stabbed numerous times, suffocated slowly, etc.While some men do beat a spouse to death, they often simply shoot or stab them.
The extended family and community valorize the honor killing. They do not condemn the perpetrators in the name of Islam. Mainly, honor killings are seen as normative.The batterer-murderer is seen as a criminal; no one defends him as a hero. Such men are often viewed as sociopaths, mentally ill, or evil.
The murderer(s) do not show remorse. Instead, they experience themselves as "victims," defending themselves from the girl's actions and trying to restore their lost family honor.Sometimes, remorse or regret is exhibited.

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