Honor Killings: Gender and Universal Human Rights

It comes to my interest on gender issue with universal rights.
Is there universal rights recognized by all people?
This question have been raised since I had taken a study course on Human Rights and my involvement with human rights work.

On July 17 2006, there was a news report on Honor Killing! This incidents occurred in Turkey:

“Kill yourself and clean our shame or we will kill you first”
“Families of disgraced girls are choosing between sacrificing a son to a life in prison by designating him to kill his sister or forcing their daughter to kill themselves”, once she was accused of shaming the family.

Again, the incident was reported on BCC News on Oct 12 2007: Honour crime fear of Syria women.

But don’t come now, or the family will definitely kill you

It show a conflict of culture set with universal declaration. According to the Universal declaration on human rights, mainly Article 2, 3, and 5 states that:

Article 2. Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, […..].

Article 3. Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.

Article 5. No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

How can we make the universal rights be a universal acceptance?
First, I am sure that political willingness and commitment to respect the universal rights will be the first prioritized, then it can be the basis for any local law setting. Law without implementation is useless. So, there is a need to disseminate and educate people, especially the executive branch. I agree that culture is a strong belief for which we find difficult to change.
Though, it is not static. It keep changing from time to time. Hence, once we agree to universal setting of human rights regardless of sex or other criteria, we can create a culture of human rights. Do not you all think we can have a culture of human rights?


I would like to see the international community and the multilateral institutions enforce all agreements and conventions signed. So many of the countries that are the worst offenders of basic human rights have signed scads of agreements, but fail to comply with them. So where are the enforcement officials? Don’t these documents have any teeth? If not, why bother, why even pretend?

Ellen R. Sheeley, Author
“Reclaiming Honor in Jordan”

Often another so-called universal right breached is the right to choose a marriage partner. In my opinion, the relationship between forced marriage and honour crime is very telling: forced marriage is a form of slavery and the oppression of ‘honour’ is the ideology that underpins this slavery.

Stop honour killings

Ellen: Thanks for your comment and raising up good points on convention enforcement. I also feel doubt on this issue and the role of UN. However, I believe that civil society collaboration to push the human rights respect and make the government accountable is very important.

Joanne: Yes, forced marriage is another form. Most likely it occur in developing countries. Education and awareness raising should be helpful. I wish to see honor killing and any other forms of gender violation disappeared.

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