Honor Killing

Human Rights Watch has stated that "honor killings" are acts of violence, most often murder, carried out by male family members against primarily female family members who are believed to have degraded the family's honor.
Honor Killing Sociology Definition


Human Rights Watch has stated that “honor killings” are acts of violence, most often murder, carried out by male family members against primarily female family members who are believed to have degraded the family’s honor.

The perception of dishonor is typically the result of one of the following actions or the suspicion of such actions

  • Dressing in a way that is offensive to the family or society
  • Wanting to wed of one’s own volition, mainly if the partner belongs to a social group that is deemed inappropriate
  • Engaging in heterosexual acts outside of marriage
  • Engaging in homosexual acts. 
  • Wanting to stop an arranged marriage

The practice of honor slayings has been compared to gender apartheid.

It has been carried out all over the world for centuries. Communities in or from South East Asian, Middle Eastern, and Mediterranean nations, although not solely, continue to perform it.

The actions of girls and women are highly scrutinized in these civilizations.


Honor killing is neither only a symptom of a more significant issue with societal violence nor just a result of specific religious teachings. Honor killing should be seen as a social control and cohesiveness tactic used in close-knit societies where women’s sexuality and social interactions are essential community assets.

The further supposition is that tribal communities’ lack of civilization is not the cause of honor killing. There is a more dynamic relationship between modernization and honor crimes, and some reports claim that the phenomena of honor crimes have worsened as modernization has occurred. Members of diverse socioeconomic groups have come to depend increasingly on their local honor codes for protection and control due to the systematic marginalization and stigmatization of those groups throughout modernization.

Caste system

The second underlying factor in the Honor murders is still the caste structure. According to sociologists, the caste system’s persistent rigidity is to blame for the prevalence of honor murders. Families from the upper caste take pride in their ancestry and see marriage with a lower caste member as undesirable Such a union is despised. 

When issues emerge inside the family, severe measures are used because of their intrinsic beliefs and a desire to maintain their societal reputation. At all costs, they wish to protect the family’s honor. As is now custom, the daughter and son-in-law are both murdered. This practice of honor slayings persists in contemporary society even though it should have been stopped now.

Men too

The lower caste men in a love relationship with upper caste women are killed to retain the honor of upper-status members. Honor killing is seen among Hindus, Christians, Sikhs, and Muslims. The Dalit Christian Kevin’s murder in Kerala is an ‘honor’ killing, reaffirmed by the Kerala High court. The killers were also part of the same religious community who viewed Kevin as a lower caste Christian.


It is believed that a woman’s father, siblings, and spouse are responsible for maintaining her virginity and “sexual purity.” The typical accusation against honor killing victims is that they participated in “sexually immoral” behavior, ranging from having open relationships with unrelated individuals to having forced coupling outside of marriage.

However, there are several additional reasons why a woman can be the target of a murderous attack, such as refusing to accept an arranged marriage or requesting a divorce or separation—even from an abusive spouse. An assault may be initiated by the mere idea that a woman has behaved in a way that would harm her family’s reputation; these presumptions are often based on men’s emotions and perceptions rather than on facts.

Sociology Plus