Honor Killings, A Subject Explored In HBO's 'Behind Closed Doors', Still Practiced Around The World With Alarming Frequency

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What's An Honor Killing? New Details About The Practice Explored In HBO's 'Behind Closed Doors' Documentary

HBO's latest true crime documentary Behind Closed Doors dives into the murder of 13-year-old Aarushi Talwar, an Indian teen found murdered in her bed. The mystery surronding who killed her feuls the storyline of the documentary. It touches on the practice of honor killings — a concept and practics that's foreign to many Americans but still practiced in a number of countries and cultures around the world — particularly among those of the Muslim and Islam faith. They happen in South Asia in places like India, where Aarushi Talwar lived. But they also happen in other places, like Texas, like in the case of Yasar Said, a man who lived in the Dallas area and killed his two daughters in 2008 because they were dating boys who were not Muslim. Let's explore this topic. What's an honor killing?

1. Honor killings are part of the practice known as honor violence

Honor-based violence and honor killings take place in cultures and countries where women are devalued as individuals and human beings. Honor killings are nearly exclusively commited against women and girls as a form of punishment and redemption for the perceived disgrace or shame a woman has brought upon her family or community. Honor violence asserts control over a girl or woman's behavior by her family. It includes female genital mutilation, forced marriage, acid attacks and forms of sexual, physical and psycholgical abuse. 

2. Honor killings are the most extreme form of honor violence

Honor killing is the murder of women and girls by their fathers, mothers, and/or brothers. The person who commits the honor killing believes the victim has brought shame and dishonor upon the family or has violated the principles of a community or a religion. Examples of reasons a woman or girl would be the victim of an honor killing include: divorcing their spouse, refusing to enter an arranged marriage, being in a relationship that is disapproved by their family, having premarital sex, having sex outside of the marriage, becoming the victim of rape or sexual assault, dressing in ways which are considered inappropriate, engaging in same-sex relationships, or renouncing a faith.

RELATED: Murder Of 13-Year-Old Aarushi Talwar Is Most Famous Crime In India; Subject Of New HBO Documentary 'Behind Closed Doors'

3. An honor killing happened earlier this month in Pakistan

Muhammad Ajmal killied his wife, their two kids and six of her family members on July 1st in Pakistan. He then burned the bodies and set the family's house on fire. Why did he do this? He saw a photograph of his wife, Kiran, with another man and suspected she may have been having an affair. Ajmal worked as a tailor in Saudi Arabia. He traveled to Pakistan to carry out the honor killing of his wife, kids, three sisters-in-law and two of their children and his mother-in-law. He confessed to the crime. His father and brother helped him carry out the honor killing. All of the victims were female. Every year around 1,000 Pakistani women are killed in honor killings. 

4. There was an honor killing last month in India

Minakshi Chaurasia was 21. She'd just gotten married. She was excited about seeing her mother for the first time since she eloped seven months prior. She had big news to share — she was pregnant. Her father, 55-year-old Raj Kumar Chaurasia, however, had other plans. He killed his daughter for marrying a man she chose rather than the one he had arranged for her. He stabbed his daughter to death because she didn't marry the man her father had picked out for her.

RELATED: New Details About The Woman Who Is On Trial For Murdering Her Nephew Because He Threatened To Reveal Their 3-Year Long Affair

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5. Was Aarushi Talwar's death an honor killing?

The murders of Aarushi Talwar and Hemraj Benhade have never been solved though there's plenty of evidence to suggest her parents did it. There was evidence that she’d had sex — and that her vagina had been penetrated, but no semen was found. It is thought that Hemraj Benjade, a staff member at the Talwar home, raped Aarushi and one or both of Aarushi's parents caught him in the act and killed them both in a fit of rage — in an honor killing. But nothing has been proven in the court of law.

6. More honor killing stats

It's nearly impossible to track the rate of honor killings as many of the killings are reported by the families as suicides or accidents. They are largely associated with South Asia and the Middle East, but they happen all over the world. In 2000, the United Nations estimated that 5,000 females a year (!) were the victims of honor killings. However, women's advocacy groups suspect that more than 20,000 females (!!!) are killed in honor killings each year. In the UK alone in 2010, the police recorded more than 2,800 honor killings. 

Amy Lamare is a Los Angeles based freelance writer covering entertainment, pop culture, beauty, fashion, fitness, technology, and the intersection of technology, business, and philanthropy. She is deeply devoted to her chocolate Labrador and an avid long distance runner. You can find her on Instagram and Facebook.