The culturally ingrained attitudes and social factors toward the traditional roles of men and women, as well as the views of women’s virginity and fidelity, which I have explained previously, have and continue to lead people to commit ‘honor’ killings in certain societies. These values combined with the presence of the relatively condoned practice, depending on the region or country, leads to the perpetuation of its occurrence. There is often immense social pressure within a family or a community which leads people to continue to enforce these codes of behavior either through killing someone in the name of ‘honor’, acting as a compliant, or enforcing gender roles in symbolic or structural ways on an everyday basis. ‘Honor’ killings, however, act as the most pervasive deterrent for modes of behavior that are considered unacceptable. In any society, sometimes men and women who feel as though they don’t fit into the prescribed gender roles of their culture will use certain tools or means to ‘prove’ to society and themselves that they belong to these roles. Men who may feel unsure about their gender or ‘masculine’ identity in societies where ‘honor’ killings occur, may be more likely to commit ‘honor’ killings as a means of demonstrating their dominance and trying to show that they fit in.(Gadit & Patel 2002: 688) Most often, however, those who commit ‘honor’ killings are often the younger brothers or relatives of a woman, because minors receive lesser sentences, and this is usually something that is forced on them.
The psychological effects of the occurrence of ‘honor’ killings are very detrimental. The presence of this violent practice induces a great deal of fear and many burdens on women, as they are most often the victims. It threatens the safety, physical, and mental health of women, as ‘honor’ killings not only work as a mode of social control, but a fear tactic, creating an environment of anxiety and risk. (Gadit & Patel 2002: 691) A four-year study at the University Psychiatry Department at Karachi, Pakistan, found that 66% of their psychiatric patients were female, of whom 70% had been victims of violence and 80% had struggled with domestic conflicts. (Gadit & Patel 2002: 691) Children who have bore witness to or are aware of their mothers, sisters, or other relatives being victims of ‘honor’ killings, are often incredibly traumatized, and face an increased risk for behavioral issues, substance abuse, and/or repeating the cycle of ‘honor’ killings. (Gadit & Patel 2002: 692) This is an important example of how cultural values can construct a mindset. In this case, the effects of the mindset can be very serious indeed, and act to perpetuate very fearful notions
Gadit, Amin Muhammad, and Sujay Patel
2008 Karo-Kari: A Form of Honour Killing in Pakistan. Electronic Document, http://tps.sagepub.com/cgi/content/abstract/45/4/683, accessed February 22.