Yesterday, Dr. Dawg commented with a link to an article about a country that outlawed honour killings. The story, from almost 20 years ago, wasn’t about a Muslim country, but the very Catholic Brazil. From March 29, 1991:
Brazil’s Supreme Court has ruled that a man can no longer kill his wife and win acquittal on the ground of “legitimate defense of honor.”
The ruling ends a 10-year legal battle. “It’s a historic decision,” said Jacqueline Pitanguy, a Brazilian women’s rights leader.
Although never part of the legal code of Brazil, the “defense of honor” strategy has been used by lawyers to win acquittals in thousands of cases of men on trial for murdering their wives. According to a study in Sao Paulo State for the period 1980-81, 722 men claimed defense of their honor as justification for killing women accused of adultery.
As in most countries where this hideous practice exists, those dwelling in isolated areas were most vulnerable:
In Brazil’s large coastal cities, juries have increasingly rejected the “defense of honor” as old-fashioned, but the strategy has continued to sway juries in Brazil’s interior.
“In the interior of the country, it is easier and cheaper for a man to hire a gunslinger to kill his wife than to get a divorce and to separate the property,” said Rose Marie Muraro, a feminist writer who lobbied against the honor defense.
The article makes a point that’s been lost in the paranoid post-9/11 world: honour killing is a phenomenon that seems to cross many cultural and religious lines, the common thread being subjugation of women. The first such killing I ever heard of in Canada involved Punjabi Sikhs, yet Canadians don’t consider honour killing a “Sikh Problem” any more than Brazil considered it a “Catholic Problem”.
Interestingly, I remember a flurry of anti-Sikh/Hindu sentiment out here following the Air India bombing and some politically-motivated murders. The media had just dipped its toes into the “honour killing” issue in that community when 9/11 rocked our world. So, when Dr.Dawg asks in his comment, “How did the phrase “honour killing” become Muslimized?”, I can only speculate that it’s because that’s where the media spotlight has been focused for the last 8 years.
UPDATE: Robert got there first, with another example of the cultural diversity of honour killing.