In 2004, Pakistan outlawed honor killings, making them a capital crime. But critics warned then that the law was weak and rights groups say that it is ineffective: hundreds of women are killed every year in Pakistan in the name of honor, though few are the killings that are reported or properly investigated. The problem is not limited to Pakistan, of course. The International Campaign Against Honour Killings reports that, like the woman in the photo destined to be stoned to death (photo credit):
"Over 5000 women and girls are killed every year by family members in so-called "honour killings," according to the UN . These crimes occur where cultures believe that a woman's unsanctioned sexual behaviour brings such shame on the family than any female accused or suspected must be murdered. Reasons for these murders can be as trivial as talking to a man, or as innocent as suffering rape."
The phrase "where cultures believe" is misleading, however. For one thing, when people move, cultures move, and migrants have brought so-called honor killings to the United States and countries in Western Europe, where, as we've posted here and here, some judges are having trouble distinguishing between respecting cultural traditions/religious freedom and condoning violence against women. Moreover, as the Magdalene Sisters and perhaps even the upcoming marriage of VP nominee Sarah Palin's pregnant daughter reveal, none of us can be complacent with respect to our own "cultural practices" that punish women for their sexuality.