The practice of honor crimes: a glimpse of domestic violence in the Arab world

Issues Ment Health Nurs. 2002 Jan-Feb;23(1):77-87. doi: 10.1080/01612840252825491.


Domestic violence, especially violence against women, is a serious health problem in the United States and in many countries of the world. However, information on violence against women in the Arab culture is scarce. The purpose of this descriptive study is to investigate the incidence of violence against women in one Middle Eastern country. The focus of the research is to determine the cultural context in which violent crimes against women are committed and the social and legal implications of such crimes. The research method included: (1) a review of all court files of women murdered during 1995 in the country of Jordan and, (2) the social norms and sanctions against persons who commit crimes against women. Of 89 homicide cases reviewed, 38 involved female victims. Analysis of the court files of the 38 murdered women indicated that a male relative of the female victim, primarily the brother, committed the majority of the murders. The most common cause for the murders provided in the files was "honor crime." Honor crime was defined as crime committed against women by their male family members because the women had violated the honor of their family. Cultural norms and practices including the legal practices related to honor crimes support the practice of killing women for sexual misconduct and excuse perpetrators of the crimes from punishment.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Arabs / statistics & numerical data*
  • Crime / ethnology*
  • Crime / statistics & numerical data*
  • Domestic Violence / ethnology*
  • Domestic Violence / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Jordan
  • Male
  • Middle Aged