*The full article is available through this link. This article may be available free of charge to those with university credentials.
Each week brings horrific new headlines stating that, somewhere around the world, a woman or girl has been killed by a male relative for allegedly bringing dishonor upon her family. According to the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, "In the name of preserving family 'honor,' women and girls are shot, stoned, burned, buried alive, strangled, smothered and knifed to death with horrifying regularity." Between 5,000 and 20,000 so-called honor killings are committed each year, based on long-held beliefs that any female who commits -- or is suspected of committing -- an "immoral" act should be killed to "restore honor" to her family. Honor killings are deeply rooted in ancient patriarchal and fundamentalist traditions, which some judicial systems legitimize by pardoning offenders or handing out light sentences. Human-rights organizations are demanding that governments and the international community act more forcefully to stop honor killings, but officials in some countries are doing little to protect women and girls within their borders.
The theme of this article concerns “crimes of honor” – from a feminist, socio-legal perspective of gender and human rights point of view – involving different aspects relating to how the national legislation treats discrimination, especially crimes of violence against women, and, specifically, the way the national courts apply this legislation to concrete cases. Although there were international, regional and national advances in relation to the subject, especially during the nineties, there are still legislation and legal decisions, even in the twenty first century, violating women’s human rights, being marked by the impunity of the offenders and by the incorporation of stereotypes, prejudices and discriminations against women who are victims of violence.