Killing in the name of “honour”: The South Asian Community in the Canadian Context

Saima Ishaq
Publication Date: 
August, 2010


“Honour Killing” is defined as the act of killing a person, usually a female relative (i.e. daughter, wife), who is taught to have brought dishonour to the family by engaging in “unacceptable” sexual behaviours. Studies have shown that those who commit this homicidal act are generally blood related to the victim (i.e. fathers, brothers, cousins, and sometimes other female relatives such as mothers have also been documented as being supporters). Most research and studies on “honour killings” have been conducted in the Middle East and South Asia and just recently in the U.K., Sweden, and Norway. However, little is known about this new social phenomenon in Canada.

In this regards, with the help of the existing literature and the five Canadian case studies, this essay is an initial attempt at  1) exploring the phenomenon of “honour killing” occurring within the South Asian communities living in Canada, 2) analyse or pre-assess the social contributing factors or social conditions that enable the sacrifice of girls and women for honour’ sake within the Canadian context, and 3) assist policymakers, community and religious leaders, and other social organizations in the implementation of new legislations, and adequate strategies for preventing and eliminating honour-based violence against women and girls. One of the main goals is to dissociate honour killings from a particular religious belief system and locate it on a continuum of patriarchal patterns of violence against women.


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