Introduction to the special issue on honour-based abuse, violence and killings

Date08 October 2018
Published date08 October 2018
AuthorRoxanne Khan
Subject MatterHealth & social care,Criminology & forensic psychology,Aggression, conflict & peace,Sociology,Gender studies,Gender violence,Political sociology, policy & social change,Social conflicts,War/peace
Roxanne Khan
Introduction to the special issue on honour-based abuse, violence and killings
In acknowledgement of the many efforts made to increase our knowledge on honour crimes, the
Journal of Aggression, Conflict, and Peace Research ( JACPR) is publishing this special edition
on honour-based abuse, violence and killings.
In the past two decades, a series of high-profile honour killings has raised awareness of an
archaic form of abuse occurring not only behind closed doors but also within closed community
walls. Despite their historic and ubiquitous occurrence, honour crimes are now more commonly
associated with Middle Eastern or South Asian families living in patriarchal collectivist cultures in
countries of origin and diasporic communities worldwide. Honour abuse victims mostly young
females are reportedly controlled, coerced, forced into marriage, humiliated, beaten, tortured
and even murdered by close relatives in the name of so-called honour. This cultural
conceptualisation of honour is both powerful and pervasive. Built upon rigid gender-based
hierarchies, it is often used to promote and excuse aggressive hypermasculinity and female
dehumanisation. It is in this context that an influential first wave of scholarly research has been
articulately produced, dismantling honour-based abuse using a gendered lens.
Due to their focus on peripheral topics, this collection of papers perhaps reflects the beginning of
a second wave of research, adding new dimensions to our empirical knowledge on honour
abuse. These papers, submitted from across Asia, Europe and North America, reflect two broad
themes. First, topics that relate to obstacles in formal help-seeking responses include the police
treatment of vulnerable at riskadults (Aplin, 2018), victimsconcerns about reporting to
police (Gangoli et al., 2018) and the professional management of collective violence (Lidman and
Hong, 2018). Second, novel issues that explicitly broaden current knowledge include
comparisons with anti-LGBTQ homicides (Henry et al., 2018), perceptions of abuse from
multiple nations (Lowe et al., 2018) and female perpetrators (Bates, 2018). As a collection, these
papers indicate avenues for future research. Therefore, I would like to use them as a starting
point to offer suggestions for how research in this area may best advance.
As a psychologist, I am eager for empirical research to use established, social psychological
theories to explain honour-based abuse. Since first proposed by Nisbett and Cohen (1996),
a plethora of research has examined malesreadiness to aggress in cultures of honour, yet
reference to this is uncommon despite its clear relevance. Psychologically oriented motivational
models of honour violence (based on theory of planned behaviour, e.g. Roberts, 2014) are also
likely to be valuable.
Applying alternate perspectives permits a more holistic examinat ion of questions such a s
why do some males in coll ectivistic honou r cultures use or justif y extreme honour-ba sed
violence or coercion against female kin, while others do not?It would also be useful if empirical
attention focus ed not only on why some people aggr ess but also the nuances in their a ttitudes
and motivations f or doing so. This would help us understand why some males oppos e or
desist honour-ba sed abuse, despite the powerf ul force of social expectations . Other questions
include why do some females endorse or perpetrate honour abuse against other females in
collectivistic c ultures of honour? This topic is often overlooked even though it conflicts with
traditional gender role expectations of women as non-aggressive and protective of close kin.
In the broader aggression literature, contemporary knowledge on female abusers indicates
that honour abuse by women will not be satisfactorily explained by forcefully extrapolating from
research on male aggression. This view is amplified by recent empirical research that
Roxanne Khan is Senior
Lecturer in Forensic
Psychology at the
School of Psychology,
University of Central
Lancashire, Preston, UK.
DOI 10.1108/JACPR-10-2018-360 VOL. 10 NO. 4 2018, pp.237-238, © Emerald Publishing Limited, ISSN 1759-6599
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