Abstracts and speakers' biographies

No honour in killing – Art makes visible buried truth

Niilofur Farrukh

The paper will discuss art as a political and social intervention with its focus on the curatorial project 'No Honor in Killing - Making Visible Buried Truth'.

The curatorial strategy of the touring art exhibition (2008 – 2010) was designed to bring art, artists and the community together to hold conversations in five towns on the taboo subject of killing in the name of honor. It aimed to emphasize the criminal nature of this archaic system and investigate the existing social and political factors that allow it to persist.

The project was an act of resistance to the apathetic official response to the killing of five women in rural Pakistan in 2008 when they were buried alive for defying the so called Honor Code. It was also the curator’s way of addressing personal horror, helplessness and anger (which echoed the nation’s sentiments) with activism engaging visual expression and community dialogue. As the art works provoked a discussion on violence/abuse/prejudice against women that contribute to a high threshold for their marginalization, a space was created for an interaction on the socially sensitive issues of morality, honor and women.

In conclusion the paper will examine how such a project can create a new connectivity between art and audiences with an inclusive framework that de-prioritize market demands over urgent socio-development concerns. Art integrated with a larger strategy can provoke debates and impact social attitudes to become an agency of change.      

The many dimensions of Niilofur Farrukh’s career in the visual arts include art criticism, art history, curatorial projects, art education and art activism. Her book Pioneering Perspectives (Ferozsons Pvt Ltd) was published in 1996. She is the founding editor of NuktaArt, Pakistan’s Contemporary Art Magazine. She contributes to op-ed pages on subjects like art and society and writes a column 'Critical Space' for Daily Dawn, Pakistan’s leading English language newspaper.  Her writings have been published in Newsline (Pakistan), Herald (Pakistan), Art India (India), ArtEtc (India), Jamini (Bangladesh), Art Tomorrow (Iran) among others. Farrukh has presented papers at national and international seminars on art and art criticism.

Farrukh is the president of the Pakistan Section of Paris-based, International Art Critics Association (AICA) and vice president of the AICA International Board (Paris). As a curator she has national and international shows to her credit. She has been Pakistan's Commissioner to Asian Art Biennale Dhaka 2006 and The Tashkent Art Biennale 2009. She is a former member of the Advisory Committee of the National Art Gallery, Islamabad and State Bank Gallery, Karachi. In 2006 as the Director of Research at FOMMA- Art History Documentation Centre, Karachi, she initiated 'Program Art History Pakistan' to document the country’s six decades of art based on audio and video interviews.

Across culture and time: Speaking of honour killing

Carolyn Strange

Dr Carolyn Strange has studied and taught in Canada, the US and Australia. As a specialist in legal, social and cultural history her work focuses on the nineteenth and twentieth-century. She has worked in a variety of disciplines and inter-disciplinary fields, including gender studies, law, criminology, media studies and environmental studies. Her research focuses on two clusters of issues: gender, sexuality, medicine, crime, and punishment; and place, memory and identity in modernity.

Through publications, curatorial work, conferences and public symposia she strives to bridge divides in scholarly communities and to reach out to the wider public. Most recently she convened a one-day symposium, hosted at the National Museum of Australia. In 2005 she convened the multi-disciplinary conference, 'Pain and Death: Politics, Aesthetics, Legalities', one outcome of which was a special issue of Humanities Research.

Keynote address: Honour killing and the history of emotions

Ute Frevert

Professor Ute Frevert is director at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development and Scientific Member of the Max Planck Society. Between 2003 and 2007 she was a professor of German history at Yale University and prior to that she taught History at the Universities of Konstanz, Bielefeld and the Free University in Berlin. Her research interests include social and cultural history of modern times, gender history and political history. Some of her best known work has examined the history of women and gender relations in modern Germany, social and medical policy in 19th century Germany, and the impact of military conscription on German society from 1814 to the present day. Her classic study of the duel was praised for superbly connecting cultural and social history. In her most recent work, she uses a similar approach analyzing the political, social and cultural representations of trust and honour. Her book on European identifications looks at 19th and 20th century trans-nationalism as an experience of mutual encounter and influence, of exclusion and inclusion, of trust and distrust. Frevert is an honorary professor at the Free University in Berlin and member of several scientific boards; she was awarded the prestigious Leibniz Prize in 1998.

Women's self-harm and honour in the Roman world

Jessica Dietrich

This paper will examine literary representations of Roman women’s deaths and the relationship of these acts to loss of honour—familial, male and female. Instances of this loss of honour are most often constructed as losses of pudicitia, sexual purity or fidelity, on which a Roman woman’s reputation rested. The deaths of such women as Verginia and Lucretia, as narrated by the Roman historian Livy, engage not only with Roman attitudes towards the relationship between a woman and her sexual status, but also how a man’s honour, reputation and masculinity are implicated in the loss of female pudicitia. By killing his daughter before she can lose her chastity, Verginius exemplifies the Roman ideal of the father who possesses the power of life and death over his children (patria potestas). In taking her own life after having been raped, Lucretia challenges her husband and father to ‘be men’ and punish her attacker. Perhaps the most famous depiction of female self-harm is Virgil’s portrait of Dido in Aeneid 4, who, like Lucretia and Verginia, views the loss of her chastity as the end of her life. In this case it is not the honour of a man or woman that is at stake but that of Rome itself.

Dr Jessica Dietrich received her BA with honours in Latin from Swarthmore College (Pennsylvania) and her PhD in Classics from the University of Southern California. She has held teaching positions at Hamilton College (New York), the University of Maryland, College Park and the University of Tasmania. Her research interests include the classical tradition in Australia and female social protest in the Roman world.

Honour and violence in colonial societies

Penny Russell

Could there be honour in empire? Could there be virtue in violence? These were disturbing questions as imperial interests were extended and consolidated in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Philosophers pondered them as moral abstractions; settlers lived them in the ethical conflicts and compromises of daily life. The mobile demographies of colonial societies brought together cultures that held disparate, even contradictory, codes of honour. Competing ideas of honour played directly into the dubious ethical premises of dispossession, subjugation, conquest and war; they defined gendered spheres of action; they could seek to invest interpersonal violence with moral legitimacy or restrain it through the mediating processes of a civil society.

This paper sketches the contours of a new research project, which aims to determine precisely how, and where, honour was at stake in and for colonial societies; to seek evidence of the influence and resilience of Western and alternative codes of honour; and to investigate the significance of colonial contests in reshaping modern Western ideas of honour. The project will explore the significance of honour at a time when the idea itself was at a point of transition. Discourses of honour celebrated physical courage and personal violence in a realm existing outside the law; yet critical to many concepts of honour were notions of fair dealing, respect and personal integrity that seemed to point a different moral path. Settler violence, indigenous resistance, the social confusions of colonial societies and the emergence of democratic institutions were equally decried and extolled in the name of honour. Drawing on this complex historical legacy, the paper will address the question of whether the concept of honour can ever offer alternatives, rather than mere justifications, for violence.

Associate Professor Penny Russell teaches Australian and gender history at the University of Sydney. Her research addresses questions of subjectivity and gender in colonial settings, with a particular interest in manners and ideas of honour and virtue. She is the author of Savage or Civilised? Manners in Colonial Australia (UNSW Press 2010) and A Wish of Distinction: Colonial Gentility and Femininity (Melbourne University Press 1994). She is in the early stages of a new research project on honour and violence in colonial societies. Further information.

Approaches to honour killing: Domestic violence or cultural tradition? Species, subspecies, and the English legal experience

Rupa Reddy

What are the implications of addressing ‘honour killings’ as a species or subspecies of domestic violence? This paper focuses on the extent to which the English criminal justice system approaches ‘honour killings’ as a form of gender based violence, such as domestic violence; or differentiates them on the basis that they are a type of cultural tradition, associated with particular communities or contexts. Examination of key concepts of ‘honour’ and honour-related violence demonstrates that ‘honour killings’ are primarily a form of gender based violence revolving around hierarchies of ‘hegemonic masculinity’. This argument emphasises the cross-cultural and transhistorical nature of honour-related violence, and highlights problems arising from an excessive or inappropriate focus on the cultural aspects of such violence. The overlaps and distinctions between honour-related and domestic violence are highlighted by a  number of recent cases of intra-familial homicide in English Crown Courts, whereby one or more family members are involved in a murder, allegedly for reasons of ‘honour’. These cases illustrate those circumstances in which it is useful to approach ‘honour killings’ as a species of domestic violence, as well as which ‘cultural differential’ factors distinguish them, and possibly constitute them as a type of subspecies within domestic violence. On the whole, practical legal approaches to ‘honour killings’ should be integrated into existing domestic violence frameworks. However ‘cultural differential’ factors should still be taken into account, in relation to operational and tactical issues in the policing and prosecution of ‘honour killings’, when necessary to ensure effective investigation and punishment of these crimes.

Dr Rupa Reddy is a part-time teaching fellow in the School of Law at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), specialising in criminal law and international human rights law. She studied LLB and LLM degrees in Law at University College London, and recently completed her PhD research at the School of Law at SOAS on ‘Approaches to Honour-Related Violence in the English Legal System’. She is currently employed as Research Skills Trainer in the Academic Development Directorate at SOAS, delivering research skills training to SOAS research students. Further information.

Returning Siri: Women and honour/shame complex in Bugis-Makassar society

Faried F Saenong

The culture of honour finds its places in many parts of the world including America, Europe, Africa, and Asia. Although the contemporary culture of honour is more prevalent in Middle Eastern and Mediterranean societies (Peristiany 1974; Pitt-Rivers 1963), such culture is also ubiquitous in South Sulawesi. Bugis-Makassar as the major ethnic groups in the province are famous for their strong upholding of siri’, the local term for honour and self-dignity. This culture is clearly based on the so-called patriarchal tradition and culture where males as actors make the rules of the game in social arenas only reserved for men. In many social arenas, women are used as objects which reflect the ideal self of men. Masculinity in this sense cannot be constructed without women's participation as objects. In this regard, Bourdieu (2001) and Delaney (1987) argue that honor is male, not a female attribute. Drawing on Bourdieu’s (1994) examination of such culture within Kabyles society in which woman (together with house and gun) is an honour that has to be protected, and based on my ethnographic fieldwork (2007-2008) in South Sulawesi, this paper examines the siri’ complex within Bugis-Makassar society. As most cases are based on silariang (elopement) issues together with its complexities, women have been habitually involved in honour/shame complex which frequently ends with murder. However, I argue that women are also active agents in the preservation of such culture, and that local understanding of religion have played significant role in the prevention of murder while preserving such culture.

Mr Faried F Saenong is a PhD student in anthropology at the ANU College of Asia & the Pacific. He has Masters degrees from Universiteit Leiden and the University of Manchester. He is currently working on local Islam and Muslim practices in South Sulawesi, Eastern Indonesia and has undertaken a visiting fellowship in KITLV Leiden under the sponsor of the Australian-Netherlands Research Collaboration (ANRC). Saenong’s research interests include Islam, Muslim, Indonesia, Bugis, Makassar, authenticity, religiosity, and ethnicity. His major publications include ‘Conserving Blood and Wealth: Endogamous Practices in Contemporary Bugis Society’ in Intersections (forthcoming) and ‘Scripting Piety in Proper Sexual Arts: Shi’I Elements in Bugis-Makassar Texts’  in M Feener and C Formichi (eds), Shi’ism and Beyond: ‘Alied Piety’ in Muslim Southeast Asia (London: I.B. Tauris, forthcoming). He has delivered papers at conferences in Dubai, Singapore, and Gothenburg among others. Further information.

The comparative analysis of case studies, religious and legal prescriptions of honour killings

Sibel Safi

In order to deter honour killing by battling the factors that encourage it, this study will evaluate the extent to which it is a product of religious views and gender discrimination and the extent to which it is affected by other factors. First, historical and current data will be summarized to show the circumstances under which honour killing occurs. In addition, the study will compare accounts of how honour killings were practiced in ancient times (1500 B.C.) with a number of case-studies that have occurred in the last decade, 1999 - 2009. This study will examine the role of religion on the practice of honour killing by comparing assault cases occurring within several religious traditions—Christianity, Islam, and Sikhism—as well as differences in their teachings and response to honour crimes.

In order to remove any doubt that religious beliefs are not the only factors triggering honour killing, this study seeks to minimize their significance as motives and analyse all other aspects pertaining to contemporary instances of murder in the name of honour. By juxtaposing accounts of honour killing that follow similar patterns but have occurred under different religions, this study suggests that religious beliefs cannot be the sole trigger. Through this comparative examination of case-studies and religious and legal prescriptions, this inquiry will show that neither religious beliefs nor gender discrimination alone can explain the modern phenomenon of honour killing. This study will examine non-traditional explanations for honour killings, including the financial benefits that perpetrators receive, as well as some of the socioeconomic and political factors that trigger the pursuit of these benefits.

Dr Sibel Safi is a senior research fellow- associate member at CMRB (Centre for Migration, Refugees and Belonging) at University of East London and academic coordinator at LCSS (London Centre of Social Studies). She has been researching in the areas of International law, international human rights, refugee law, European Union law and humanitarian law areas mostly focused on gender-related issues and the migrant/refugee community in the UK. Concerning the evaluation of human rights of Turkey she has published a book and been involved in research on immigration, refugees, asylum-seekers and gender-related persecution in asylum grounds. Safi speaks fluent English, Romanian and Turkish.

Honour and 'social cleansing': Collective violence against gender and sexual minorities in Columbia

Fernando Serrano Amaya

In Western societies, honour has been integral to the definition of masculinity through violence and to institutions such as duelling or the military (Connell 2005). In Latin American masculinities, honour plays a fundamental role in the connections between power, machismo and shame (Lancaster 1992).  Honour is constitutive of the gender order that uses violence to subordinate women and non hegemonic masculinities. This paper will investigate the role of honour in violence against groups marginalized in gender and sexual orders, particularly gender and sexual minorities. Honour, as a leading concept, has been missing in the studies of violence against those groups. Notions such as 'hate crimes' or 'bias crime' were developed in Europe, United States or Canada where gender and sexuality constitute two connected but relatively autonomous dimensions (Weeks 1986). Its application to other gender/sexual orders, such as the ones in Latin America, could lead to inadequate interpretations, because of their juxtaposition of gender order and sexualities. In the paper I will consider the so called 'social cleansing' actions against homosexuals and travestis in Colombia to explore how concepts of honour and shame are invoked to justify this particular kind of violence. I will argue that honour operates as an implicit notion in the collective violence against gender and sexual minorities that occurs in situations of protracted socio-political conflicts.

Mr Fernando Serrano Amaya studied anthropology at Universidad Nacional de Colombia. He has a Masters in Conflict Resolution from the University of Bradford, UK and is currently a PhD candidate in the Faculty of Education and Social Work at the University of Sydney, Australia. He researches, lectures and consults in youth, violence, gender, sexuality and public policies. He has published six books, 21 book chaptersand 11 articles in academic journals. Some titles include: Challenging or reshaping heteronormativity with public policies? A case study from Bogotá, Colombia, Sussex: Institute of Development Studies, University of Brighton, 2011; (co-author) Panorama de Derechos Sexuales y Reproductivos en Colombia [Assessment of Public Policies and Sexual and Reproductive Rights in Colombia]. Bogota: Universidad Nacional de Colombia, Clam, Brazil, 2010.

'Right living' in migration: A case of honour crime in contemporary Italy and its representation

Paola Sacchi

This paper focuses on a case of 'honour crime', the murder of Hina, a girl of Pakistani origin killed by her father with the help of his sons-in-law in the northern Italian province of Brescia in 2006. It received a wide and often sensationalist coverage from the media, partly because of the centrality the discourse on human and women’s rights has acquired on a global scale, but especially because of the specific political and ideological circumstances of a national context where right-wing governments are promoting increasingly xenophobic measures.

Relying on an analysis of both this media coverage and of the judicial proceedings of the trial, two interpretative paths will be followed. On the one hand, an attempt will be made to trace the construction of this and other apparently similar cases in Italy as 'honour killings' and their instrumental use in political discourse to strengthen the representations of Islam in terms of cultural and moral backwardness, a powerful warrant to deport or marginalise immigrants. On the other hand and more specifically, the judicial proceedings will be searched to shed light on the motivations of Hina’s father (who never invoked honour, but simply declared that she "was not living rightly") and on the ways the judges’ evaluations were formed. This is all the more interesting in a country like Italy, where 'honour' was considered a mitigating factor in the Penal Code until 1981, and the very notion of honour killing is deeply if ambiguously seated in common sense.

Assistant Professor Paola Sacchi has a PhD in Cultural Anthropology and Ethnology from the University of Turin. She currently works in the Department of Anthropological Sciences at the University of Turin. Her recent publications include: “‘Vivere insieme’: persistenze e metamorfosi dei legami di parentela sulle sponde del Mediterraneo”, in S. Grilli and F. Zanotelli (eds.) Scelte di famiglia. Tendenze della parentela nella società contemporanea, Pisa, ETS, 2010; “Between culture and geopolitics: Some reflections on the tasks of Mediterranean anthropology”, in J.-Y. Boursier (ed.), Frontières, échanges, patrimoines dans le bassin méditerranéen (in press). ; and, “I delitti d’onore ritornano: prospettive antropologiche dall’Italia” paper presented at the conference Globalizzazione, generi, linguaggi, CIRSDe, University of Turin, February 2011 (in press). Further information.

Modernity and honor-violence: The case of Turkey and the Kurds

Sevin M Gallo

Despite significant revisions in the Turkish legal system under the Kemalists in the name of 'modernization,' until 2005 Turkey incorporated loopholes in the law for people (mostly men) who kill or otherwise victimize their wives, sisters, and other family members in the name of honor. Now, in the context of European Union candidacy and pressures from domestic and international human rights advocates, the Turkish state and dominant popular culture emphasize the 'Kurdishness' of honor-related violence in Turkey. The effort to identify honor killings with Kurdish 'tradition' allows the dominant culture and Turkish state to detract attention away from the occurrence of such crimes, and is an attempt to re-affirm a 'modern' Turkish identity to the international community as well as to maintain internal power dynamics within Turkey itself. Further, my paper examines the impact that nationalist modernization projects had on the culture of honor and the occurrence of honor-related gendered violence, and argues that the existence of honor killings in the Kurdish regions and in the diaspora has more to do with 'modernization,' than it does with tradition. I offer a historical understanding of honor-related violence that situates the apparent concentration of honor killings in the Kurdish regions or in Kurdish communities in the context of civil war and Kemalist nationalist reform policies with an eye to the legal aspects of this process.

Ms Sevin Gallo is a PhD candidate studying Middle East history at the University of Akron. She is currently busy writing her dissertation entitled, ‘Embodying Nationalism: Honor Crimes, National Identity, and the State in Turkey from 1926 to the Present'. The thesis is a world history project that examines the relationship between state-formation, nationalist conflict, identity, and honor crimes. Although the dissertation project focuses on Turkey and Turkish Kurdistan, she includes a chapter case study of honor crimes as discussed in Brazilian legal codes that were created or preserved by nationalist ‘modernizing’ regimes. She received a Dissertation Research Fellowship for Comparative Studies from the Institute of Turkish Studies, and has presented papers concerning honor crimes and identity politics at the last two meetings of the Middle East Studies Association.

Engaging with the murderer and his culture: A deliberative approach to ‘honour killings’

Selen Ayirtman Ercan

Liberal societies face increasing difficulties in accommodating cultural and religious groups who do not share the values and lifestyles of the majority society. Particularly in recent years, the ‘illiberal’ practices of those groups, such as wearing burkas, forced marriages or ‘honour killings’ have become central issues in public and policy debates of these societies. In most cases, addressing ‘illiberal’ cultural practises without imposing liberal values on cultural minorities or stereotyping cultural groups proves to be highly difficult. How should liberal democracies respond to the ‘illiberal’ practices in a culturally sensitive manner? One compelling answer to this question has been given by the advocates of deliberative democracy. Deliberative democrats have argued that rather than trying to resolve culturally contested issues in a top-down manner, it is important to provide cultural minorities with the opportunity to articulate and justify their concerns in public forums. In this paper, I extend and apply this approach to the most extreme form of ‘cultural practices’, the so-called honour killings. The extended deliberative approach I defend emphasizes contestation rather than consensus and suggests seeing the supporters of ‘honour killings’ as legitimate participants in public debates about these killings. I argue that rather than dismissing these individuals as ‘unreasonable’, ‘barbaric’ or ‘illiberal’, a deliberative engagement with them offers the most promising way forward in tackling ‘honour killings’. I present the  benefits of such engagement by providing examples from honour killing debates in Britain and Germany.

Ms Selen Ayirtman Ercan is a finalyear PhD student at The Australian National University, Centre for Deliberative Democracy and Global Governance. Her PhD thesis, in the field of democratic theory and multiculturalism, looks at the ways liberal democracies address culturally contested issues, and aims to identify the possibilities for intercultural deliberation in culturally polarized settings. As examples of such settings, the thesis focuses on the ‘honour killing’ cases in Britain and Germany. Further information.

Keynote address: Crimes of honor and international law

Marsha Freeman

The definition of honor crime as a human rights violation is a relatively recent development, attributable to the efforts of both nongovernmental advocates and United Nations entities. First mentioned in the work of the (now defunct) Sub-Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Promotion of Human Rights, it is grounded in the international recognition of violence against women as a human rights issue. The UN Committee on Discrimination against Women included reference to honor crime in its ground-breaking 1992 General Recommendation No 19 on Violence against Women, and the Committee first referred to a State party’s obligation to deal with it in its 1997 review of Turkey. Since then various UN human rights mechanisms, the Secretary-General, and the High Commissioner for Human Rights have all alluded to honor crime as a fundamental violation of women’s human rights. However, it has become clear that, as with all matters relating to discrimination against women, legal processes alone will not eradicate it, and a multitude of complementary approaches must engage entire cultures in a shift away from valuing honor above life.

Dr Marsha A Freeman is Director, International Women's Rights Action Watch (IWRAW); Senior Fellow, University of Minnesota Human Rights Center, and Adjunct Professor, University of Minnesota Law School. Freeman is an expert on technical interpretation, procedures, and practical application of the CEDAW Convention. She works closely with human rights treaty bodies and agencies to assist in monitoring government obligations and formulating policy on international legal standards regarding women’s human rights. She is co-editor of the CEDAW Commentary, forthcoming in 2011 from Oxford University Press.

Keynote address: Honour crime in legal and cross-cultural perspective: A global view

Lynn Welchman

Professor Lynn Welchman is a professor of law, with particular reference to the Middle East and North Africa, in the School of Law at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. She is also a member of the London Middle East Institute (LMEI), a member of the Centre for Gender Studies, a member of the Centre for Islamic and Middle Easter Law (CIMEL), and co-director of the Honour Crimes Project.

A multi-level model for protecting victims and investigating perpetrators

Karl Roberts

Honour based violence (HBV) is predicated when a code of honour is believed, by the perpetrator(s), to have been broken by the victim, bringing perceived shame or dishonour upon the perpetrator(s) and their social group. A wide variety of victim behaviour can trigger it including dress, choice of friends, relationships with members of the opposite sex etc. At present there is no over-riding theory to explain the motivation for honour based violence. Western media accounts stress the cultural basis of HBV locating motivation within certain minority groups. Other models suggest HBV is a form of gendered violence illustrative of male dominance over women.  This paper will consider these models of HBV and will suggest that they are limited explanations for all facets of HBV. It will argue for a multi-level model that takes into account the psychological characteristics of the perpetrator, the influence of group processes and of cultural scripts in motivating HBV. It will be argued that such a model will be useful to practitioners charged with protecting victims and investigating perpetrators.

Dr Karl Roberts is a forensic psychologist, a senior lecturer in the Centre for Policing, Intelligence and Counter Terrorism at Macquarie University, Sydney and a specialist advisor of the Victorian Ombudsman Melbourne. Karl also works closely with the police and other agencies providing behavioural advice in the form of risk assessments, interview strategies and offender profiles to major investigations and has provided advice to over four hundred major investigations throughout Australia, the United Kingdom, Europe and the USA. Karl’s specific research areas of expertise are investigative skills focusing upon psychological and behavioural assessment, investigative interviewing and risk assessment and management. He has particular interests in the investigation of violent crimes in particular honour violence and stalking and the psychological motivation of offenders. Karl was recently (June 2011) guest editor of the British Journal of Forensic Practice for a special edition on investigative interviewing and has just secured a book contract with Taylor Francis for a volume on policing honour based violence with colleagues from the Metropolitan Police Violent Crimes Directorate.

(Dis)Honour and death in the courtroom

Jocelynne Scutt

Culture, race, religion and ethnicity have a presence in the courtroom when unlawful killing occurs within the context of claims of 'honour'. This is not isolated to stereotypical episodes that so often catch media attention because of a contemporary emphasis upon fundamentalist religion. Although '(dis)honour' killings are seen as associated with particular communities, the law has a long history of grappling with notions of 'excusing' or downgrading culpability due to cultural or racial/ethnic imperatives. Although not often acknowledged, sex/gender is central to the framing of such 'excuses' or conceputalising (lack of) culpability. Should culture, religion, ethnicity or race be accepted as relevant to or dictating jurisprudential outcomes when intentional acts causing death are in issue?

The Hon Dr Jocelynne A Scutt is a barrister and human rights lawyer, writer and filmmaker. Her films include 'The Incredible Woman' and 'A Greenshell Necklace' (with Karen Buczynski Lee) and DVD installation 'Covered' - 'Debating the Scarf/Romancing the Veil/Contradictions of Cover'. Her books include The Incredible Woman - Power & Sexual Politics, The Sexual Gerrymander - Women & the Economics of Power, Even in the Best of Homes - Violence in the Family, For Richer, For Poorer - Money Marriage & Property Rights (with Di Graham) and Women & the Law, and she is editor of the Artemis 'Women's Voices, Women's Lives' series.

Investigating so-called 'honour' killings and forced marriage in the UK Kurdish Community

Aisha Gill

In this paper, I document women’s voices in the Kurdish Diaspora, exploring their struggle to end forced marriage and violence against women in the name of ‘honour’. This investigation, based on the outcomes of a qualitative study, utilizes narrative-analysis research and interviews conducted with professionals working on ‘honour’-based violence and other forms of gender-based violence. The paper also considers a range of other contexts in which ‘honour’-based crimes and forced marriage are practiced. Research findings, based on 34 interviews with a range of professionals held in 2009, provide material for a discussion of criminal justice responses to this issue over the last ten years, following the murders of a number of young Kurdish women (including Yeshu Yones, Banaz Mahmod and Tulay Goren in the UK and the stoning to death of Du’a Khalil in Iraq). Case descriptions are employed to illuminate how the concept of ‘honour’ is used to mediate femicidal violence, demonstrating the ways in which the official UK criminal justice response is often at odds with the day-to-day reality of ‘honour’-based violence that women encounter. A number of strategies for reducing this type of violence are suggested.

Dr Aisha Gill is a Reader in Criminology at University of Roehampton. Gill's main areas of research are health and criminal justice responses to violence against black and minority ethnic women in the United Kingdom. Gill has also served on numerous government working parties on so-called 'honour' killings and forced marriage. She has published a number of recent papers exploring how victims of forced marriage and 'honour' based violence experience the civil and criminal justice systems in the UK and Iraqi Kurdistan Region. Further information.

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