US Domestic Violence Claims Twice More Lives Than Pakistan Honor Killings

In 2013, 869 women became victims of “honor killings” in Pakistan, according to Canadian Professor Judy Haiven. Compare this to the United States, where 1600 women were killed by their male partners or husbands in the same year, according to US-based Violence Policy Center.  Unlike domestic violence deaths in America, Pakistani honor killings make regular headlines. A recent example is the global media coverage of the killing of Qandeel Baloch who gained fame as a Pakistani social media celebrity.

In a letter to Toronto Star newspaper in June 2014, Professor Haiven wrote:

"Maybe the women wanted to leave the marriage, or had found a new partner, but clearly the men felt betrayed and dishonored by their partners and killed them. The media are quick to target women murders in Muslim-dominated countries, but maybe the media should also look at the facts in the U.S. (and Canada) as well."

Regardless of the intent of the western media and Pakistani westernized elite, it is heartening to see that Pakistan parliament has responded to the scourge of "honor killings" by enacting new legislation to stiffen the penalties for the perpetrators of this crime.

Previously, killers could be pardoned by a victim's family to avoid a jail term under Qisas and Diyat laws.  Now forgiveness will only spare them the death penalty. The perpetrator convicted of honor killing will have serve a mandatory minimum jail term of 25 years.

When I tweeted out the news of the new legislation, there were many who liked it and retweeted it. However, I also received responses from a gentleman who was clearly more interested in attacking Muslims. Here are some tweets and responses from this exchange:

Riaz Haq @haqsmusings:  BBC News - 'Honour killings': #Pakistan closes loophole allowing killers to go free. #QandeelBaloch #honorkillings

Bryan Valvana @BryanValvana: Maybe most people never knew the loophole existed because muslims like @Deanofcomedy and @lsarsour never criticized or said a word about it.

RH: @BryanValvana @Deanofcomedy @lsarsour Killers often go free in #US and #Europe. Neither western nor #Pakistan laws are perfect.

BV: @haqsmusings @Deanofcomedy @lsarsour Right. A loophole letting honor killers go free is "imperfect." Not "sick, barbaric & evil."

RH: @BryanValvana #Pakistan fixed its law. Canadian Prof Judy Haivan says more #honorkillings in #US than in #Pakistan

BV: @haqsmusings That's an opinion, not a fact. That's also totally ridiculous. How do you believe this self serving garbage?

RH: @BryanValvana unlike your bigoted garbage, Canadian Prof backs up her opinion with US government data on domestic violence deaths in America

BV: @haqsmusings People who commit domestic violence go to prison, there's no loophole that allows them to go free. The comparison is insane.

RH: @BryanValvana Not always. Besides, any jail time is often too little, too late for the victims.

BV: @haqsmusings No one is arguing that. Classic straw man. You've successfully derailed the conversation. Transparent tactic.

The above twitter conversation should give my readers a flavor of how even a good act in Pakistan gets attacked as part of the Islamophobes'  intense campaign against all things Pakistan and Muslim.

What is often forgotten is that  until 1977, the California Penal Code stated that wives charging husbands with criminal assault and battery must suffer more injuries than commonly needed for charges of battery.

Also ignored is the fact that Pakistanis themselves take seriously the issue of violence against women. Pakistani filmmaker Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy has been amply recognized with both Pakistani and international awards for her work to highlight the problem.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Islamophobia Industry

Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy Wins Oscar

Beheading in Buffalo: Domestic Violence or Honor Killing?

Honor Killings in India

Qandeel Baloch: Leading a Social Revolution in Pakistan?

Silent Social Revolution in Pakistan

Arif Hasan's Website

The Eclipse of Feudalism in Pakistan

Social and Structural Transformations in Pakistan

Malala Moment: Profiles in Courage-Not!

Urbanization in Pakistan Highest in South Asia

Rising Economic Mobility in Pakistan

Upwardly Mobile Pakistan

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Comment by Riaz Haq on October 7, 2016 at 1:53pm

(WOMENSENEWS)–The dramatic finale of the FX series “The People vs. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story” aired this week after topping television ratings for over a month. The Oscar-winning documentary about an honor killing, “A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness,” recently aired on HBO to critical acclaim.

One was set in Brentwood, a suburb of Los Angeles. The other was set in Punjab, Pakistan. One is called a domestic violence homicide. The other is called an honor crime.

A round-up of statistics from the Violence Policy Center, Bureau of Justice Statistics, National Institute of Justice and the Center for American Progress found that more than 18,000 U.S. women were killed in this country by intimate partners between 2003 and 2014. In the U.S., more than 22 percent of women will experience an extreme act of violence at the hands of an intimate partner in her lifetime, according to the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Why do we not call these acts of violence in this country honor crimes?

Human Rights Watch defines honor crimes as “acts of violence, usually murder, committed by male family members against female family members who are perceived to have brought dishonor upon the family” and defines those family members as “husband, father, son, brother or cousin.” There are 5,000 honor crimes each year in the world, according to the site, mostly in the Middle East and South Asia. In Pakistan alone, there are 1,000 honor killings every year.

But there is a common nefarious defense by perpetrators that links these cases of violence against women in the U.S and those acts called honor crimes in the Middle East and South Asia.

In both arenas, the woman who transgresses the boundaries of what men will accept has to be punished. And the men doing the punishing are from her domestic world.

In both domestic violence and honor crimes, male relatives and/or intimate partners rape, beat, psychologically abuse and kill.

Critique of Western Discourse

The 2013 book “Do Muslim Women Need Saving?,” by Columbia University anthropologist Lila Abu-Lughod, shows how Western discourse on honor crimes tends to present them as problems of distant Middle Eastern, South Asian or Islamic “cultures.”

Indeed, in the U.S., anti-Islam activists such as Pamela Geller frequently stereotype Muslim men as so obsessed with female obedience that they kill women on any suspicion that the women have dishonored them.

But such acts are prevalent here too, perpetrated by men of all religions. A Massachusetts man was sentenced to life for stabbing his wife because he found a text message on her phone that he thought was a sign of an affair. A Texas man was indicted on charges of beating his pregnant girlfriend because he thought the baby wasn’t his. An Illinois man was convicted of strangling and knifing his girlfriend because he thought she was cheating on him.

In her new book, “Adultery: Infidelity and the Law,” Deborah Rhode, a professor at Stanford University in California, confirms that “suspicion of adultery is a frequent cause of domestic violence and the primary motivating factor in a majority of cases of homicide of wives killed by husbands.”

Certainly there are differences within and between societies and regions of the world, in terms of both the frequency of the crime and the social support and legal recourse available to women.

Comment by Riaz Haq on October 7, 2016 at 7:44pm

#Trump recorded having extremely lewd, degrading conversation about women in 2005.

Donald Trump bragged in vulgar terms about kissing, groping and trying to have sex with women during a 2005 conversation caught on a hot microphone, saying that “when you’re a star, they let you do it,” according to a video obtained by The Washington Post.

The video captures Trump talking with Billy Bush, then of “Access Hollywood,” on a bus with the show’s name written across the side. They were arriving on the set of “Days of Our Lives” to tape a segment about Trump’s cameo on the soap opera.

The tape includes audio of Bush and Trump talking inside the bus, as well as audio and video once they emerge from it to begin shooting the segment.

In that audio, Trump discusses a failed attempt to seduce a woman, whose full name is not given in the video.

“I moved on her, and I failed. I’ll admit it,” Trump is heard saying. It was unclear when the events he was describing took place. The tape was recorded several months after he married his third wife, Melania.

“Whoa,” another voice said.

“I did try and f--- her. She was married,” Trump says.

Trump continues: “And I moved on her very heavily. In fact, I took her out furniture shopping. She wanted to get some furniture. I said, ‘I’ll show you where they have some nice furniture.’”

“I moved on her like a bitch, but I couldn’t get there. And she was married,” Trump says. “Then all of a sudden I see her, she’s now got the big phony tits and everything. She’s totally changed her look.”

At that point in the audio, Trump and Bush appear to notice Arianne Zucker, the actress who is waiting to escort them into the soap-opera set.

“Your girl’s hot as s---, in the purple,” says Bush, who’s now a co-host of NBC’s “Today” show.

“Whoa!” Trump says. “Whoa!”

“I’ve got to use some Tic Tacs, just in case I start kissing her,” Trump says. “You know I’m automatically attracted to beautiful — I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait.”

“And when you’re a star, they let you do it,” Trump says. “You can do anything.”

“Whatever you want,” says another voice, apparently Bush’s.

Comment by Riaz Haq on July 27, 2017 at 9:20pm

Was Gandhi a misogynist? The answer is yes.

Gandhi believed Indian women who were raped lost their value as human beings. He argued that fathers could be justified in killing daughters who had been sexually assaulted for the sake of family and community honour. He moderated his views towards the end of his life. But the damage was done, and the legacy lingers in every present-day Indian press report of a rape victim who commits suicide out of "shame". Gandhi also waged a war against contraceptives, labelling Indian women who used them as whores.

Gandhi cemented, for another generation, the attitude that women were simply creatures that could bring either pride or shame to the men who owned them. Again, the legacy lingers. India today, according to the World Economic Forum, finds itself towards the very bottom of the gender equality index. Indian social campaigners battle heroically against such patriarchy. They battle dowry deaths. They battle the honour killings of teenage lovers. They battle Aids. They battle female foeticide and the abandonment of new-born girls.

Comment by Riaz Haq on May 31, 2018 at 7:01pm

The Nordic Paradox: Gender Equity and Sexual Assault

Outsiders often identify the Nordic countries of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden as feminist utopias. Compared to other parts of the West, these countries have low gender pay gaps, generous parental leave policies, and provide women with equal access to education.

Yet in this Utopia, not all is well. According to a study published in the journal Social Science & Medicine, the Nordic countries have disproportionately high rates of Intimate Partner Violence against women. In the Nordic countries included in the study, an average of 30 percent of women, or just under one in three, had experienced IPV, compared to an E.U. average of 22 percent. This phenomenon, dubbed the “Nordic Paradox,” has many people perplexed. “We are sort of amazed, puzzled by the find of that kind of data,” Enrique Gracia, professor in the Department of Social Psychology at the University of Valencia, told the HPR. Why would women be victimized more in countries that try so hard to alleviate the oppression that they face?

Sexism in The Culture

Despite the popular perception of the Nordic nations, sexist beliefs about the role of women are deeply ingrained in these countries. In most of Scandinavia, gender equality laws have only been passed in the last few decades, and cultural attitudes have largely failed to keep pace. The persistence of sexist cultural attitudes is manifest in the response to gender equity laws. Dr. Lucas Gottzen, a masculinities researcher at Linköping University, noted that most men in Sweden did not take parental leave when Sweden’s parental leave laws were first passed in the 1970s. “I’ve interviewed some of these men that were actually the first men to take our parental leave in the ’70s … They were looked down upon. They were seen as not as proper men,” he told the HPR. “It was not until the ’90s … that men started to take our parental leave in a much broader sense.”

Sweden is far from an exception to this rule. Kevat Nousiainen, a professor of Comparative Law and Legal Theory at the University of Turku in Finland, explained to the HPR that there is still widespread male chauvinism in Finnish society. She said that “there’s quite a lot of opposition that arises from claims that [women face discrimination],” and that many people claim that “it’s actually the men who have problems.” As Dr. Nousiainen observed, sexist gender roles persist in Nordic society. Even today, the majority of parental leave time is taken by women in Nordic countries. In Sweden, for instance, women take 75 percent of the parental leave time allotted to both themselves and their husbands.

Rape culture, a society or environment whose prevailing social attitudes have the effect of normalizing or trivializing sexual assault and abuse, is also still a problem in the Nordic countries. The history of laws concerning marital rape, or rape committed by the victim’s spouse, in these countries suggests that rape is not as widely condemned as it should be. While Sweden was one of the first countries to outlaw marital rape in 1965, Finland only criminalized the practice in 1994. Nousiainen noted that gender equality laws still meet stiff opposition in Finland today. “It has been rather difficult, actually, to bring forth [legislation specifically dealing with]… spousal [abuse], domestic violence, or sexual violence,” she said. She also noted that victims of sexual violence in Finland find it difficult to come forward. The fact that Finnish women are perceived to be very powerful “makes it quite difficult for the victims of violence, women, to speak about it. They are ashamed of being … victims.” Unlike Finland and Sweden, even today, Norway does not explicitly outlaw marital rape.

Comment by Riaz Haq on May 31, 2018 at 7:11pm

More access to education could close the gender inequality gap

PAUL SOLMAN: So now you’ve studied gender roles, you teach that at the Indian Institute of Technology, you are married to the guy, so maybe you are reluctant to disagree with him. But to what extent do you agree? Does your work support it?

RAVINDER KAUR: To some extent it does. I think the change that is happening today is very rapid. But I would still say that there is a way to go before we close the gender gap. Different countries are at different points in this and India, you might always hear, lives in several centuries. So if you were to come to New Delhi you will see that many more women are educated and can give the men a run for their money. But if you were to go to Rajasthan or if you were to go to Behar you would find that the women are still wailed and child marriage is quite rampant. But I think where I would agree with the thesis is that education is extremely transformative. And the more you make available opportunities for education to everybody, it’s going to be a win-win generally.

Comment by Riaz Haq on May 31, 2018 at 7:12pm

Why the new global wealth of educated women spurs backlash

The spread of education across developing nations is transforming global inequalities and playing a key role in closing the gender gap. Economics correspondent Paul Solman sits down with economist Surjit Bhalla and sociologist Ravinder Kaur to discuss Bhalla’s book, “The New Wealth of Nations,” as well as the backlash to increasing equality.

Paul Solman:

Indian economist Surjit Bhalla and his wife, sociologist Ravinder Kaur, in the U.S. recently to spread the message of “The New Wealth of Nations.”

Surjit Bhalla:

The key thesis of the book is that education and the spread of education has transformed the world and has transformed relationships, inequalities between countries and, finally and most importantly, between the sexes.

Paul Solman:

And the cost? What’s the cost?

Surjit Bhalla:

The cost is that people in the West are going to lose out relative to the people in the East, the East meaning the rest of the world, the West meaning the advanced countries.

What happens, when the world is filled with everybody graduating from high school, then the Western people will lose their advantage over the rest of the world.

Paul Solman:

And so that’s why the person with a high school diploma in the United States has seen her or his, usually his, earnings…

Surjit Bhalla:

Decline, yes, in real terms, by something like 10 percent or 15 percent over the last 25 years. The real wage of those who went to college, but didn’t graduate has stayed the same. And the real wage of college graduates, the creme de la creme, has risen by only 0.5 percent per annum.

Paul Solman:

But it’s not the creme de la creme anymore, because you can go beyond college.

Surjit Bhalla:

Well, no, this includes beyond graduate. Whether it’s doctors or it’s lawyers, everything is transferable now.

Even surgery can be done transatlantic by the use of technology. Where is the real advantage left for an American or a British or German or Western professional?

Paul Solman:

Isn’t that why there’s a reaction against immigration?

Ravinder Kaur:


You know, there’s always a scapegoat when things are not going well for you. And it always tends to be somebody we think of as the other. You know, it could be a person of a different color. It could be a person of different religious persuasion.

Surjit Bhalla:

Different sex.

Ravinder Kaur:

Of different sex or whatever. So, today, maybe men are resentful of women.

Surjit Bhalla:

Previously, there were always the bottom 20 percent who lost out, but they could come home and feel superior to or dominate their wives.

Now they come home, and the women are the major breadwinners, or are more educated than them, or more able than them.

Paul Solman:

Or at least are competing with them.

Surjit Bhalla:

Or competing. From where they were here, now they’re equals. That can mess up the psychology of men.

Ravinder Kaur:

I think it is a threatened masculinity issue. Why do you see more, you know, such crime in places where the gender gap is closing?

Paul Solman:

According to the World Health Organization, for example, violence against women surged in both Nicaragua and Uganda following public information campaigns promoting women’s rights.

And then there’s the so-called Nordic paradox. Though Iceland Norway, Finland and Sweden take the World Economic Forum’s global index of gender equality — the U.S. ranks 49th — they are also among the worst in Europe for domestic violence and sexual assault.

Ravinder Kaur:

So, for quite some time, my argument has been that if you see more violence and if you see more gender crime, it’s a backlash. How dare this woman be in the public space, and you know how dare she aspire…

Surjit Bhalla:

Be equal.

Comment by Riaz Haq on November 28, 2018 at 7:47pm

Pulitzer prize-winner Nicholas Kristof accused of '#racist #imperialist logic'. It’s easy to imagine #Trump agreeing with some of his ideas about the inherent vice of certain people from certain countries. #xenophobia #misogyny #Islamophobia @alternet

In Feminist Accountability: Disrupting Violence and Transforming Power (December, NYU Press), Ann Russo, associate professor of Women’s and Gender Studies at DePaul University, offers an intersectional analysis that includes chapters on “Disrupting Whiteness,” “Shifting Paradigms to End Violence,” and “Disentangling US Feminism from US Imperialism.”

In the last section, “Resisting the ‘Savior’ Complex,” Russo recalls how Kristof—in his 2009 book, Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide, written with his wife Sheryl WuDunn—”portray[s] the men from the global south as either inherently brutal and violent, or lazy and irresponsible (both constructions synchronistic with the portrayal of men of color and immigrant men from the global south in the dominant culture of the United States).”


“In many poor countries, the problem is not so much individual thugs and rapists but an entire culture of sexual predation,” Kristof asserts. Kristof and WuDunn describe Ethiopia as “where kidnapping and raping girls is a time-honored tradition” and Congo as the “world capital of rape.”

“No doubt the widespread rape and sexual violence against women in the Congo is horrific,” Russo counters, “but [Kristof and WuDunn] explain it as a cultural problem, rather than a social and political [one].” With this myopic focus, they “obscure the role of the United States in fueling this endemic violence and the ongoing instability of the country and thus avoid any consideration of US accountability. For example, [when they discuss the Congo], Kristof and WuDunn do not tell us that our deep dependence on these mineral resources is, in part, what fuels the ongoing conflicts and violence in the region.”

In his win-a-trip contest announcement, Kristof writes that applicants who “don’t look like” him are “welcome.” That may be so. But a pro forma “welcome” can’t erase the impact of the broad strokes with which he has painted whole swaths of people.

This was a problem in 2009. Now, with Trump in the White House, it’s more important than ever to get rid of the myth of the good white liberal savior for once and for all, and stand in opposition to what Russo describes as Kristof’s “ethnocentrist, racist and imperialist logic.”

Comment by Riaz Haq on December 10, 2018 at 8:13pm

How #domesticviolence leads to murder in #America. Washington Post reporters found that 2,000 of 7,000 #women were killed by intimate partners.

Using data on homicides in 50 major U.S. cities compiled by The Washington Post, reporters examined the killings of more than 7,000 women to determine if the alleged killer was a current or former intimate partner of the victim. In about 4,500 of those homicides, reporters were able to determine the suspect’s relationship to the victim using news clips or other public records. In more than 2,000 of those cases, the alleged killer was a current or former intimate of the victim. (For the study, The Post excluded the deaths of anyone else who was killed at the time of the intimate-partner homicide, such as children or bystanders). Reporters further studied nearly 300 intimate-partner killings in five cities where public records were readily available, looking for signs of previous violence committed by the accused killers, including restraining orders, convictions for violent crimes and other run-ins with law enforcement over domestic matters. Such signs existed in more than one-third of the killings. Experts say that number probably underestimates the extent of prior violence because much of it goes unreported to authorities.

Killings of intimate partners often are especially brutal, involving close encounters such as stabbings, strangulation and beatings, The Post’s analysis found.

Nearly a quarter of the 2,051 women killed by intimate partners were stabbed, compared with fewer than 10 percent of all other homicides. Eighteen percent of women who were killed by partners were attacked with a blunt object or no weapon, compared with 8 percent of other homicide victims. While a gun was used in 80 percent of all other deaths, just over half of all women killed as a result of domestic violence were attacked with a gun.

Violent choking is almost entirely confined to fatal domestic attacks on women — while fewer than 1 percent of all homicides result from strangulation, 6 percent of women killed by intimate partners die in this manner, The Post found. It’s also a warning sign. Those who attempt to strangle an intimate partner are far more likely to later commit extreme acts of violence, police and researchers say, and many in law enforcement believe it to be a strong indicator that an abusive relationship could turn fatal.

Comment by Riaz Haq on June 19, 2019 at 8:08pm

#Pakistan to create 1,000 courts to tackle #violence against #women. Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, an independent watchdog, reported at least 845 incidents of sexual violence against women in its 2018 report. #genderequity

Pakistan is to set up more than 1,000 courts dedicated to tackling violence against women, the country’s top judge has announced, seeking to tackle a problem activists say the criminal justice system has long neglected.

Chief justice Asif Saeed Khosa said the special courts would allow victims to speak out without fear of retaliation in the conservative Muslim country, where domestic violence is often seen as taboo.

Pakistan sees thousands of cases of violence against women every year, from rape and acid attacks to sexual assault, kidnappings and so-called honour killings.

“We are going to have 1,016 gender-based violence courts across Pakistan, at least one such court apiece in every district,” Khosa said in an address to fellow judges broadcast on national television. “The atmosphere of these courts will be different from other courts so that complainants can speak their heart without any fear,” he said.

The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, an independent watchdog, reported at least 845 incidents of sexual violence against women in its 2018 report.

There were no comparative figures and the commission had previously said violence against women went largely unreported, particularly in rural areas, where poverty and stigma prevented victims from speaking out.

The country was ranked the sixth most dangerous for women in a Thomson Reuters Foundation a survey of global experts last year.

The new courts will operate in existing courthouses, but will hold domestic violence hearings separately from other cases to enable victims to testify in confidence.

A pilot court of this kind was opened in 2017 in Punjab, Pakistan’s most populous province.

Local high court chief justice Mansoor Ali Shah said at the time that women were the most vulnerable members of society and that one in every three had been a victim of physical or psychological violence.

Human rights campaigners said the Lahore court had been a success and welcomed the move to expand the programme.

Romana Bashir, who heads the Peace and Development Foundation, a non-governmental organisation working on women’s rights, said it was “a wonderful safeguarding measure”.

“Certainly women will be encouraged and feel strengthened to speak up against gender based violence. Consequently, women will be able to get justice,” she said.

Fauzia Viqar, a women’s rights campaigner who advised the Punjab government until last month, said studies had shown the performance of such dedicated courts to be “many times better than other courts”.


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