There is no “honour” in “honour killing”

“WHETHER it wins or not, the Oscar nominee with the greatest impact — saving lives of perhaps thousands of girls — may be one you’ve never heard of.

It stars not Leonardo DiCaprio but a real-life 19-year-old Pakistani woman named Saba Qaiser. Her odyssey began when she fell in love against her family’s wishes and ran off to marry her boyfriend. Hours after the marriage, her father and uncle sweet-talked her into their car and took her to a spot along a riverbank to murder her for her defiance — an ‘honour killing.'”

Read on in The New York Times Opinion Section.

Every time the term “honour killing” is used, we view the murder of women through the eyes of their killers. By adding the word “honour” to killing, we use the language of those who justify this odious crime on the basis of “honourable” motives. We use the language of their excuses. We must stop doing this.

Linguistic labels matter. The term “honour killing” not only cedes too much power to the perpetrator, but is offensive to survivors and women. Instead, we need to see the crime through the eyes of those attacked, because these acts of gender violence attack something more than women’s bodies, something precarious and precious: the challenge by thousands of courageous young women around the world to oppressive patriarchy and stultifying social convention. In this sense, they are an attack on us all.

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