National Geographic yesterday premiered a documentary on its cable television channel focusing on honor killings in Pakistan. Every day three women in Pakistan become victims of honor killings, usually murdered by male members of their families, including their husbands, fathers, and brothers. Honor killings, however, are not contained to Pakistan. Victims can be found all over the world, killed for allegedly having affairs, flirting, becoming the object of another man’s affection, or becoming victims of rape. Few of these crimes are prosecuted, and often communities support the practice of honor killings and work to protect the perpetrators by making the victims invisible. “In many cases, the women are buried in unmarked graves and all records of their existence are wiped out,” explained Widney Brown, Advocacy Director for Human Rights Watch.
Activists are calling for an international response to honor killings, which they see as only one facet of the larger problem of violence against women. Worldwide, grassroots activists have planned over 800 actions in conjunction with V-Day, a global movement to end violence against women. Amnesty International will launch its own global campaign to combat violence against women in 2003. Importantly, however, violence against women is a critical issue in the United States as well. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, one in three murdered females in the U.S. is killed by a partner and more than 1 million women are stalked every year. Every fifteen seconds, a woman is battered in the U.S., usually by an intimate partner.