Honor and violence
“Violence in the name of honor” describes acts of violence that are committed out of an alleged cultural duty, in order to preserve or recover the supposedly endangered family honor. This concerns primarily girls and young women, who separate themselves from the traditional, patriarchal perceptions of their families and who want to live their lives self-determined and independently. Men are affected as well, especially as unwanted partners of the female victims.
In the traditional code, the “honor” of the whole family depends on the sexual “purity” of the women. If a woman loses her honor – often through “forbidden” sexual contacts or through the loss of virginity – it affects the honor of her husband and/or her father and therefore the reputation of the whole family is in danger. A woman can be sometimes esteemed as dishonored, if she gets herself into a situation, in which her honor could be potentially “stained” (going to a club, talks or has eye contact with a stranger) – irrespectively from what really happened.
An attack on the honor of a person is seen equally to being humiliated within society. Hence the head of the family in traditional patriarchal societies perceives it his duty to control and regulate the behaviour of all family members in regards to the adherence of the code of honor. Violence in the name of honor can have many facets: mental pressure and black mailing, coercion and deprivation of freedom, physical violence, forced marriage and – in the extreme case – so called “honor killings”.
Many people who are affected by “violence in the name of honor” or forced into marriage or are in acute danger of experiencing it, come to FIM to ask for support. Often young girls and women from patriarchal families ask FIM for advice even before something happened: they fear that their families could force them to marry or that they are threatened by violence if their fathers or brothers learn of their “forbidden” relationships. In order to prepare for such a situation, they get informed about their possible course of action at FIM.