PRACTICE AREA | SERVICE DETAILS
- Date 22 Apr 2020
- Attorney at Law B.A.S. van Leeuwen (LL.M., Esq.)
- Skills Corporate Fraud and Criminal Law, Corporate Investigations, Compliance and Sanctions
- Location Utrecht-City, Amsterdam
- Category Areas of Legal Practice, Civil Litigation and Civil Protection Order, Family Law, Private Clients, Social Legal Aid
ABOUT THIS PRACTICE AREA | SERVICE
An honour killing is the murder of a member of a family, due to the perpetrators’ belief that the victim has brought shame or dishonour upon the family, or has violated the principles of a community or a religion with an honour culture.
In patriarchal societies, the activities of girls and women are closely monitored. The maintenance of a woman’s virginity and “sexual purity” are considered to be the responsibility of male relatives—first her father and brothers and then her husband. Victims of honour killings usually are alleged to have engaged in “sexually immoral” actions, ranging from openly conversing with men who are not related to them to having sex outside of marriage (even if they are the victims of rape or sexual assault). However, a woman can be targeted for murder for a variety of other reasons, including refusing to enter into an arranged marriage or seeking a divorce or separation—even from an abusive husband. The mere suspicion that a woman has acted in a manner that could damage her family’s name may trigger an attack; these assumptions are generally based on men’s feelings and perceptions rather than on objective truth. Ironically, female relatives often defend the killings and occasionally help set them up.
In the relatively uncommon event that a man was prosecuted for the killing, the subsequent trial would often focus on the woman’s alleged behaviour, rather than the violence committed against her. When a man was found guilty, the defendant could claim that the crime had been committed to restore sullied family honour and petition the court for a reduced sentence. However, honour killings based on inter-caste and interreligious marriages continued to take place in rural areas, where they were largely unreported to police because of direct or indirect support among village residents. Such murders were often ruled as accidents when reported. A woman beaten, burned, strangled, shot, or stabbed to death could be ruled a suicide, even if there were multiple wounds and there was no possibility the woman could have killed herself.