Advocacy statements

Violence in the name of honour

  • Date / 2014
  • Relevant Institution / UN Human Rights Council
  • UN Item / Item 3: Promotion and protection of all human rights, civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights


United Nations Human Rights Council, 25th Session (3rd – 28th March 2014)

Agenda Item 3: General Debate


There are many harmful practices committed against women daily; those committed in the name of “honour” have been characterised as amongst the most severe[2]. Honour-based violence is understood to derive from a desire to control the behaviour of the female, with the honour of a family vested in her body. As the Special Rapporteur on violence against women has pointed out, preserving honour turns on the idea that a woman has to be sexually controlled until marriage; it is a means of controlling her choices and movement[3].

Whilst there are many forms of honour crimes, including bodily mutilation and acid violence, amongst the most severe manifestations is killing.  Between 5,000 and 20,000 women are murdered by family members each year in “honour killings”[4]. Women have been murdered for a variety of reasons, from tweeting or facebooking[5], to being punished for having been raped[6]. Honour killings have been identified in Muslim, Hindu and Sikh communities across the world[7].

Despite international law proscribing gender-based violence, honour violence is widely committed, often with impunity. We urge the Council to encourage those states with no legislation relating to honour violence, to pass laws recognising it as a crime, and to provide for penalties commensurate with the gravity of the acts committed.

More attention needs to be paid to the concept of “honour”, how it is perceived and manipulated. There is no honour, Mr President, in killing a woman because she chooses to live her life as she wills. Honour-based violence represents a form of systematic institutionalized misogyny; this Council, and the wider international community, have a duty to do more to combat it.


[1] This oral statement draws on IHEU’s written statement, “Global violence against women in the name of ‘Honour’” (A /HRC/25/NGO/70).

[2] A/HRC/20/16, §43.

[3] A/HRC/20/16, §45.

[4] See https://www.unfpa.org/swp/2000/english/notes.html#3-31 and A/HRC/20/16.

[5] Chintamani Rout, “Honour Killing: Descend and Dimensions”, International Journal of Political Science and International Relations, Volume 2, Issue 1. June 2012, p.18; “Culture of Discrimination: A Fact Sheet on “Honor” Killings”, Amnesty International, 2012.

[6] BBC. Ethics Guide, Honor Crimes, 2012. http://www.bbc.co.uk/ethics/honourcrimes/crimesofhonour_1.shtml

[7] Honor Based Violence Awareness Network, http://hbv-awareness.com/faq/; “ 1,000 Pakistani women and girls honour killing victims”, Telegraph, 22nd March, 2012, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/pakistan/9160515/1000-Pakistani-women-and-girls-honour-killing-victims.html.

Suggested academic reference

'Violence in the name of honour', Humanists International

WordPress theme developer - whois: Andy White London