Attitudes towards ‘honor’ violence
and killings in collectivist cultures
Gender differences in Middle Eastern,
North African, South Asian (MENASA)
and Turkish populations
Research has established that men and women perceive physical aggression differently. Overall
trends show that males, in comparison to females, are more likely to condone and justify the use
of interpersonal violence against women. Males are also more likely to blame the victim, to attribute
less responsibility to the assailant, to consider violent behaviors as less serious, and to recommend
more lenient punishments for perpetrators (Eigenberg & Policastro, 2016; Flood & Pease, 2009).
However, over the last few years, a less clear pattern is forming as a result of the growing
number of studies that examine the attitudes of people from collectivist cultures in Middle
Eastern, North African, South Asian (MENASA), and Turkish populations – more speciﬁcally,
in terms of their attitudes towards ‘honor’ based violence (HBV) and killings1 in accordance to
their gender. This chapter reviews these more recent studies to ascertain whether there are
gender differences in attitudes towards HBV and killings similar to the established paradigm for
general interpersonal violence, and if there is any consistency across populations. Psychological
explanations for women’s attitudes in support of HBV and killings within collectivist cultures
are also examined, as are the inﬂuences of sexism and religiosity.
The role of ‘honor’ in collectivist cultures
The use of aggression to defend honor has archaic and geographically wide roots (Rodriguez
Mosquera, 2016). In contemporary honor cultures, there is a focus on collectivism that emphasizes
the maintenance of strong bonds with both immediate and extended family. Collectivist honor
cultures are inherently patriarchal and are thus characterized by differential and unequal gender
roles. Males and females maintain their families’ honor by adhering to these restrictive gender
roles. Males are expected to act tough, show strength, and exercise control. Females, on the other
hand, maintain an honorable reputation by demonstrating their purity, modesty, and obedience
to their father and husband (Cohen & Nisbett, 1994; Vandello, 2016). As honor is maintained by
a reputable public social image, male and female gender roles are enforced collectively by families
and their wider community. Accordingly, social expectations demand that men use threats and
‘Honor’ violence in collectivist cultures
aggression to acquire, defend, or restore honor, even for perceived or slight insults (Vandello &
Cohen, 2003). As males are clear beneﬁciaries of these honor codes that maintain their social
privilege and dominance, they are encouraged by other men to maintain the status quo by using
‘honor’ violence against women who are perceived to be acting dishonorably.
This chapter focuses on attitudes towards female victims and therefore deﬁnes “‘Honor’ Based
Violence and ‘Honor’ Killing [as] … all violence implicated against a female for the deviancy of
her activities from the traditional cultural norms” (Elakkary et al., 2014: 77). ‘Honor’ based
violence has been reported widely across collectivistic cultures, for example, in the Mediterranean,
North America, and Latin America (Dietrich & Schuett, 2013; Vandello & Cohen, 2003).
‘Honor’ crimes more recently have been linked to Middle Eastern, North African, South Asian
(MENASA), and Turkish populations both domestically (in countries of origin) and
internationally, within diasporic communities. A number of recent high proﬁle ‘honor’ killings
in Western Europe and North America, committed by families who originate from MENASA
and Turkish nations have been subject to considerable scrutiny. Consequently, ‘honor’ crimes
committed by, or against, family members from minority ethnic groups in the West have become
increasingly newsworthy (Korteweg & Yurdakul, 2010; Shier & Shor, 2016).
In Britain, the brutal rape, murder, and dismemberment of a 20-year-old Iraqi Kurdish
woman living in England, as organized by her family, was widely reported by the media. Before
she was murdered in 2006, Banaz Mahmod reported to the police her husband’s physical and
sexual abuse. She later reported death threats by her family for ‘dishonoring’ them when she left
her husband and entered a new relationship (Dyer, 2015). Other disturbing ‘honor’ killings had
previously been reported by the British press. In 1999, Rukhsana Naz, a mother of two children,
was strangled to death by her older brother while she was 28 weeks pregnant, because she refused
to have an abortion. Police investigations revealed that Ms. Naz’s mother, who considered her
daughter’s pregnancy to be dishonorable, held her legs down and instructed her older son to
murder her, while her younger son (a helpless witness to the murder) was forced to assist in the
disposal of her body (Dyer, 2015). Another widely reported case was the ‘honor’ killing of
Shaﬁlea Ahmed, a 17-year-old British Pakistani. Ms. Ahmed’s mother and father were charged
with her murder. It also was revealed that, prior to her death, both parents had subjected her to
physical, psychological, and ﬁnancial abuse (Chesler, 2015; Gill & Brah, 2014). The complex
dynamics underpinning these ‘honor’ killings brought to light the poor understanding of
professionals in the criminal justice system in their attempts to effectively respond to and manage
‘honor’ based abuse in diasporic populations. The ruthless murders of these young women,
nonetheless, served as an impetus to address ‘honor’ crimes both more seriously and explicitly
in the UK. Similar symbolic cases have been the driving force behind policy change in other
Western countries, including Germany (Grzyb, 2016), Finland (Keskinen, 2009), Sweden
(Wikan, 2008), and across North America (Chesler, 2009).
As a result of the increased media, social, political, and academic awareness of ‘honor’ crimes
in Western Europe and North America, it soon became apparent that the mechanisms underlying
perpetrators’ motivations for ‘honor’ violence and killings could be quite divergent from other
forms of interpersonal violence. In part, this was due to victims’ families’ endorsement and
approval of the abuse, violence, and even torturous murder to restore their honor. Seemingly
more paradoxical was that the victim’s kin and community were often the instigators of the
abuse, and in many instances, they organized or committed these murders themselves.
Perpetrator proﬁle and motivations for ‘honor’ based violence
Male kin are the most commonly reported perpetrators of ‘honor’ based violence and killings;
that is, fathers, brothers, uncles, sons, cousins, etc. (Chesler, 2009). Yet, ‘honor’ based abuses,
violence, and killings are also committed by female family members, including mothers, sisters,
aunts, and female relatives in-law (Elakkary et al., 2014; Keyhani, 2013). While males and females
appear to inﬂict ‘honor’ based abuse differently, the evidence suggests women, particularly
mothers, can be adept at inﬂicting hard psychological abuse, physical violence and ‘honor’ based
femicide, within speciﬁc contexts, and that their role could be signiﬁcant. More commonly, they
condone the abuse committed by male relatives (Aplin, 2017; Chesler, 2015).
A range of motivations have been reported for inciting ‘honor’ crimes. These include sex
outside of marriage (including inﬁdelity), pregnancy outside of marriage, or more elusively,
hearsay about contact with a male without family permission, and acting ‘too Western’ (Aplin,
2017; Chesler, 2009; Dyer, 2015; Nasrullah, Haqqi, & Cummings, 2009). If questioned by
authorities, it is common for perpetrators to underplay the abuse, or to justify it without
expressing remorse, and to claim that their abuse, violence, or killing has restored family honor
(Chesler, 2010; Dyer, 2015).
Victim characteristics and typologies of victimization
For close to two decades, a substantial body of work has advanced explanations of ‘honor’ based
victimization against women, in terms of the cultural dimensions and universal perspectives of
patriarchy and gender inequality (e.g., Gill, 2006; Grzyb, 2016; Meeto & Mirza, 2007; Sev’er
& Yurdakul, 2001). Other perspectives adopt a more holistic approach, including Do÷an (2013,
p. 491) who postulates that “patriarchy alone cannot explain the whole dynamic behind honor
killings, and especially honor killing cases where the victim is male, gay, and cases where the
defendant is a female”. Indeed, males represent a proportion of ‘honor’ violence and killing
victims (Dyer, 2015). A male is most typically victimized by association with a ‘dishonorable’
woman (Chesler, 2010) or if he is perceived not to be heterosexual (Steinke, 2013).
Overwhelmingly, however, the majority of HBV victims are adolescent and adult females. In a
pattern established across many studies, Aplin (2017) calculated that 96 percent of the 100 victims
in her study were female.
An array of abusive behavior is associated with HBV victimization, including psychological
torment, sexual abuse or physical assault (ranging from cutting off hair and beatings to acid
attacks and mutilations), restraints (for example, imprisonment or kidnapping), and being
forced into marriage (Aplin, 2017; Dyer, 2015; Kopelman, 2016; Zuhur, 2009). It is unsurpris-
ing then that victims report detrimental psychological, behavioral, and physical symptoms
including anxiety, attempted suicides, and running away from home (Khan, Saleem, & Lowe,
2017). A proportion of HBV offenses result in the victim’s physical torture and murder (Chesler,
Epidemiology of ‘honor’ based violence and killings
Globally, in what is considered to be a conservative estimate, it is reported that over 5,000
women are murdered every year in the name of ‘honor’ (United Nations Population Fund,
2000). One-quarter of all ‘honor’ killings worldwide are reported to occur in Pakistan (Nasrullah
et al., 2009). In 2014 alone, more than 700 women were victims of ‘honor’ killings in this one
nation (Fatima, Qadir, Hussain, & Menezes, 2017), with 1,957 murders estimated to have
occurred between 2004 to 2007 (Nasrullah et al., 2009). In East Turkey, while it was estimated
that approximately 25 to 75 ‘honor’ killings are committed per year (Sev’er, 2012), there are also
reports that 231 were recorded in just 2007 (Council of Europe, 2009) and that 574 ‘honor’
killings were reported between 2003 and 2007 (Human Rights Presidency of Turkey, 2007).
‘Honor’ violence in collectivist cultures
In Europe, the UK is reported to have the highest number of ‘honor’ killings, at a rate of one
homicide a month (Foreign & Commonwealth Ofﬁce, 2014).
The number of non-fatal ‘honor’ violence cases is undoubtedly far greater (Al Gharaibeh,
2016). In Britain during 2010 alone, for example, 2,823 ‘honor’ abuse cases were reported across
39 police forces (Dyer, 2015), while over 11,000 cases were reported to UK police forces from
2010 to 2014 (Iranian and Kurdish Women’s Rights Organisation, 2015). One prominent
British HBV support organization reported that approximately 6,700 help-seeking calls were
received just in 2015, with 250 new reports each month (Karma Nirvana, 2016). These ﬁgures
do not reﬂect the true extent of abuse experienced by victims. Due to the piecemeal manner in
which data are collected and recorded (Khan, 2007) and inevitable underreporting, these ﬁgures
instead most likely represent the tip of the iceberg. Yet, even as a vast underestimation, these
ﬁndings indicate that HBV is both a global and prevalent problem, with often detrimental and
potentially fatal consequences.
Attitudes towards ‘honor’ based violence and killings:
Despite these ominous ﬁndings, it is only recently that empirical research has speciﬁcally explored
people’s attitudes towards ‘honor’ violence and killings. Knowledge in this area is valuable, not
least because a plethora of psychological literature has established that people’s attitudes and
beliefs are strongly linked to their behavior (see Eagly & Chaiken, 1993). Also, that people are
strongly inﬂuenced to act in accordance with other people’s attitudes and beliefs to protect family
honor. This was explicitly demonstrated in a study of 39 ‘honor’ killing prisoners in Turkey,
who reported they felt ostracized, harassed, and under great psychological pressure by community
members to commit the murder (Do÷an, 2013). Notable efforts have been made to apply key
attitudinal theories to explain people’s attitudes in support of ‘honor’ crimes. For example, based
on Ajzen’s Theory of Planned Behavior, Roberts (2014) proposed a psychologically orientated
motivational model of HBV; its multifactor approach is innovative as it enables consideration of
how both males and females may hold attitudes that endorse violence as an acceptable response
to perceived dishonor.
This is pertinent because males’ and females’ attitudes towards ‘honor’ violence and killings
are integral in explaining how they might respond if they are exposed to this form of interpersonal
abuse, either as victim, witness, or instigator. In this way, a person’s positive attitude towards
‘honor’ violence and killings, regardless of their gender, might indicate a proclivity for endorsing
or committing ‘honor’ crimes, even if they themselves have been victimized. Likewise, if a
person holds negative attitudes towards HBV, this may be a motivator to safeguard victims and
make efforts to protect them. Victims who do not approve of this form of abuse may be more
likely to make efforts to protect themselves and seek help. It is not only the latent stigmatizing
beliefs of family and community members that are important. The attitudes of professionals
working in social welfare, healthcare, and emergency services, who may come into contact with
potential and actual HBV victims are also inﬂuential (Adana et al., 2011; Aplin, 2017; Dickson,
2014). Their professional positioning may act as the ﬁrst line of defense for a victim experiencing
abuse. How professionals respond to their victimization may therefore play an important part in
the extent to which victims seek help (Can & Edirne, 2011).
It is acknowledged that myriad factors inﬂuence observers’ attitudes towards interpersonal
violence, including the level of blame assigned to a victim for being assaulted (Bryant & Spencer,
2003; Simon et al., 2001). This seemingly paradoxical phenomenon of victim blaming is strongly
inﬂuenced by observer gender. Typically, when compared to males, female observers are more
likely to be disapproving of physical aggression overall (Locke & Richman, 1999). Females are
also more likely to blame male perpetrators (Eigenberg & Policastro, 2016; Witte, Schroeder, &
Lohr, 2006; Yamawaki, Ochoa-Shipp, Pulsipher, Harlos, & Swindler, 2012), and disapprove of
men who use physical violence against women (Feld & Felson, 2008). These gender differences
are more recently being investigated across, and within, a number of collectivist honor cultures,
in direct relation to ‘honor’ based violence and killings.
Gender differences in attitudes towards ‘honor’ based violence
In Arab populations, Eisner and Ghuneim (2013) examined attitudes towards ‘honor’ killing in
856 school children across 14 schools in Amman, Jordan’s capital. The children were aged
between 14 to 16 years (mean=14.6 years), with a roughly equal number of girls (53%) and boys
(47%). The sample was primarily Muslim (90.4%); the remainder were Christian (9%), Druze
(0.2%), or without religious afﬁliation (0.4%). In line with traditional differences in attitudes,
twice as many males (46.1%) as females (22.1%) supported the ‘honor’ killing of a female.
Similarly, a study in Pakistan examined the attitudes of an older general public sample from the
capital city, Islamabad (Shaikh, Shaikh, Kamal, & Mashood, 2010). As Pakistan has the highest
worldwide rate of ‘honor’ killing, attitudinal research conducted in this country is a valuable
resource. Participants were aged from 18 to 71 years (mean=35.4 years). Data from 601
participants (51.1% males and 48.9% females) showed that more males (64.8%) than females
(53.1%) approved of a husband killing his wife as a result of witnessing her in an extramarital
sexual liaison with a stranger. Signiﬁcantly more males (65.2%) than females (55.8%) also believed
the husband was within his rights to kill the stranger to defend his honor. Unlike the younger
school children sample in Jordan, a majority of the females in this adult Pakistan sample approved
of these ‘honor’ killings, and a majority proportion of the whole sample thought that the wife
should not be forgiven (males=84.8%; females=71.9%).
In the Jordanian study, low educational attainment was a signiﬁcant predictor of attitudes that
endorsed ‘honor’ killing (cf. Eisner & Ghuneim, 2013). Although not directly investigated, one-
third of the Pakistan sample had no formal education and one-quarter had only ﬁve to nine years
of education (cf. Shaikh et al., 2010). Other studies (e.g., Bagguley & Hussain, 2007) also suggest
that education level may be associated with attitudes towards HBV. A study that explored similar
attitudes in educated university students in Pakistan (male=523; female=466), is therefore useful
for making comparisons (Shaikh, Kamal, & Naqvi, 2015). A majority of this younger, educated
sample (aged 20 to 29 years, mean=22.7 years) did not believe that ‘honor’ killing was always
justiﬁed (83.3%). Although far lower in number, this study found signiﬁcantly more males (9.9%)
than females (1.5%) believed there was a justiﬁcation for the honor killing of females. The
authors concluded that: “Our study population – ostensibly more educated, cognizant of
the rights of women, and belief in the rule of law – had alarmingly disturbing attitudes when it
comes to extrajudicial killings in the name of crime based on misguided honor” (p. 423). These
ﬁndings support the contention that attitudes supportive of HBV are likely to occur across many
collectivist communities, regardless of education level (Brandon & Hafez, 2010).
Two studies were located that measured attitudes towards HBV in diasporic populations of
British South Asians in the UK. The ﬁrst was an attitudinal survey conducted on 500 young
(aged 16 to 34 years) British South Asians (ComRes, 2012). Respondents described their
ethnicity as Indian (40.8%), Pakistani (30.8%), Bangladeshi (12.4%), Mixed (6.6%) or other Asian
(9.6%). Religious background was recorded as Muslim (51.4%), Hindu (21.8%), Sikh (10.8%),
Christian (9.4%), and other (2.8%). Although low in overall endorsement, males (6%) were more
‘Honor’ violence in collectivist cultures
likely than females (1%) to agree that there was ever a justiﬁcation for ‘honor’ killings. There
was no marked difference for this belief across ethnicity or religion. A comparably small
percentage of males (8%) and females (5%) reported that in certain circumstances, it was right to
physically punish a female relative if she had dishonored her family or community. Again, there
was no notable difference in this belief across ethnicities or religions. When presented with a list
of possible reasons that justiﬁed HBV, 18 percent of both males and females agreed that at least
one was reasonable excuse for committing this form of abuse. There were no signiﬁcant gender
differences for reasons that justiﬁed HBV, which ranged from disobeying a father (8%), marrying
someone unacceptable (7%) or wanting to end a marriage (7%). The second study to explore
the attitudes of British South Asians was conducted in an area of England that, in 2010, had the
fourth highest rates for HBV across 52 police forces (Khan, Saleem, & Lowe, 2017). Similar to
the previous study, the 216 participants in this sample (males=71; females=135) were also young
(age range 16 to 54; mean=21.93 years). The ethnic proﬁle was analogous with the previous
study, and was recorded as follows: Pakistani (43.1%), Indian (41.9%), Bangladeshi (7.9%) or
mixed (7%). The vast majority reported that they were Muslim (93.8%), while the remaining
were Hindu (4.7%), Sikh (0.5%), Christian (0.5%), or other (0.5%). This study used a range of
hypothetical scenarios to ascertain participants’ approval of HBV across a range of situations (e.g.,
forced marriage, wanting to end a marriage). Principle component analysis revealed two
attitudinal themes, which were tested for participant gender: that is, perceptions of forced marriage,
and perceptions relating to dishonoring the family. In this predominantly young and well-educated
sample (91.1% were educated to college level or above), only one (non-signiﬁcant) gender
difference was found; that males were more endorsing of forced marriage than females. Overall,
no gender differences were found for tolerance of ‘honor’ abuse, and all participants responded
in a way that demonstrated a low approval of this violence.
The inconsistent range of methodologies and approaches used in these studies permits only a
superﬁcial inspection of the descriptive ﬁndings. These ﬁndings showed gender differences in
the approval of ‘honor’ violence and killings across all the studies. Overall, as might be expected,
females were less condoning of this form of abuse against other females, when compared to their
male counterparts. Regardless of gender, the level of endorsement was relatively low, with the
exception of the older Pakistan sample and young Jordan population of school children. Approval
of ‘honor’ violence and killings appeared to be inﬂuenced by nationality (which may reﬂect
acculturation) and level of education. Also apparent across all studies was the high number of
participants who ascribed to a religion, which was predominately to Islam.
Accounting for this, studies that have explored the attitudes of trainee healthcare workers in
collectivist, Islamic cultures may be of particular importance. These professionals in training are
likely to have direct contact with HBV victims in practice settings, and are thus in a good positon
to provide emergency care and welfare support to populations vulnerable to, or victims of HBV.
One such investigation recruited a young sample (aged 20 to 25, median=23 years) of ﬁnal-year
nursing students in a predominantly “Moslem” area of East Turkey (Can & Edirne, 2011). A total
of 225 students (males= 77.3% and females= 22.7%) were asked about their attitudes towards HBV
victims, and attitudes towards screening patients for HBV. In line with previous studies, there was
a low endorsement overall and signiﬁcantly more males (7.8%) than females (3.4%) agreed with
the statement “I justify honor crimes”. It is noteworthy that, while not signiﬁcant, almost twice
as many males (15.7%) as females (8%) claimed to feel devoted to ‘honor’ rules. It was signiﬁcant
however, that more females (76.4%) than males (51%) supported nurses screening patients for
‘honor’ crimes. Furthermore, while a majority of all the nursing students thought ‘honor’ crimes
were associated with religion (females=69%; males=56.9%), signiﬁcantly more women (63.8%)
than men (31.4%) thought these crimes were associated with male-dominated society.
Two studies that explored attitudes towards HBV in student populations, from collectivist
and individualist cultures, also merit a review here. One study explored attitudes toward ‘honor’
killing in a total of 96 Turkish (predominantly Muslim: 86.5%) and Italian (primarily Roman
Catholic: 63.2%) university students living in two main cities, Istanbul (female=59.4%) and
Turin (female=66.2%) (Caffaro, Ferraris, & Schmidt, 2014). The mean ages were similar for
both the Turkish (21.2 years) and the Italian (24.6 years) samples. The study used three hypo-
thetical scenarios to depict a husband’s ‘honor’ killing of his wife in response to her alleged
adultery, adultery, and adultery in ﬂagrante delicto. In response to three questions, and regardless of
scenarios or culture, when compared to their female counterparts, males did not attribute
(1) more responsibility to the victim, (2) less responsibility to the perpetrator, or (3) recommend
less severe punishment. Yet, an interaction between culture and gender was observed; namely,
that there were no gender differences in the Italian sample, for attribution of the husband’s
responsibility and punishment, whereas Turkish males attributed less responsibility to the
husband for the murder of his wife, and less severe punishment than did their female Turkish
counterparts. The second study assessed Italian (66.5%= Roman Catholic; 33.9%= atheist),
Moroccan (100% Muslim), and Cameroonian (100% Roman Catholic) University of Turin
students’ attitudes towards HBV. One hypothetical scenario was presented to depict a possessive
father physically beating then conﬁning his 17-year-old daughter as a result of the shame he felt
for her living a modern lifestyle and dating a boy behind his back (Caffaro, Mulas, & Schmidt,
2016). Again, an interaction between nationality and gender was observed as follows: Italian
males attributed less responsibility to the father than did Italian women and, in a departure from
the established gender-disparity pattern, Cameroonian females attributed more responsibility
to the victim, and less to the perpetrator, than their male counterparts. Also, the predominantly
Christian Cameroon sample was more permissive of HBV, even when compared to the
Overall, there are gender disparities in the studies that explicitly explored attitudes towards
‘honor’ violence and killings in collectivist, predominantly Islamic populations. While these
ﬁndings align with the gender differences found in the more established attitudinal research into
other forms of interpersonal abuse, the emerging pattern is, to some extent, divergent. This is
because, superﬁcially at least, a proportion of women from collectivist cultures of honor highly
endorse the use of abuse, violence, and killing other females (who were hypothetically their
counterparts), in the defense of family honor. In an effort to explain what appears to be a victim-
blame paradox, this chapter ends by considering a number of theories that unlock the interweaving
psychosocial mechanisms that might be contributing to it.
One account that has been used to explain victim-blame is the “defensive attribution” hypothesis
(Shaver, 1970). This occurs because observers want to protect themselves from blame should a
similar fate befall them. This hypothesis is a robust model that has been usefully applied to female
victim-blame attributions in a range of hypothetical scenarios including rape (Pollard, 1992) and
domestic violence (Locke & Richman, 1999). This hypothesis has not yet been explicitly applied
to HBV in the existing literature, but research into perceptions of female victims of other forms
of violence provides a pragmatic exemplar from which HBV victim-blame can be postulated.
Accordingly, HBV victim-blame could be thought of as a rationalized form of self-protection;
the more an observer perceives themselves to be similar to the victim, the less the victim is
blamed by those observing them. Even at a cursory level, this theory falls short in explaining
women from collectivist cultures’ attitudes in support of ‘honor’ violence. Conﬂicting with this
‘Honor’ violence in collectivist cultures
hypothesis, there was a high rate of endorsement for ‘honor’ killing from women in the Pakistan
study (cf. Shaikh et al., 2010), to the extent that over half condoned a murder, and more than
three-quarters thought the victim should not be forgiven. Likewise, in the Jordanian study of
school children, one-quarter of the girls endorsed a woman’s ‘honor’ killing (cf. Eisner &
Perhaps a more plausible explanation is the “just world” hypothesis (Lerner, 1980). This
asserts that: because the world is presumed by many to be a fair and just place, people implicitly
believe that victims of violence must have acted in a way to deserve it. Just world beliefs have
been used to explain female victim-blame across a number of populations, including collectivist
cultures. One study that applied this hypothesis assessed young (mean age=22 years) students’
attitudes towards a female rape victim in Turkey (Sakallı-U÷urlu, Yalçın, & Glick, 2007). The
ﬁndings showed that, regardless of gender, beliefs in a just world, as well as benevolent and
hostile sexism, predicted less positive attitudes towards the victim. The inﬂuence of sexism was
explored in another study of young (mean age=20.94) Turkish university students, in relation
to their attitudes towards honor beliefs (Glick, Sakallı-U÷urlu, Akbaú Orta, & Ceylan, 2016).
While benevolent sexism predicted women’s honor beliefs, and hostile sexism predicted men’s
honor beliefs, it was notable that Islamic religiosity predicted honor beliefs for both males and
females, but more so for females.
Despite gaps in the extant literature, there are patterns forming from these studies that indi-
cate avenues worthy of further investigation. For example, the importance of Islamic religiosity
on women’s attitude formation was noted by Glick et al. (2016, p. 547) “because women across
the globe are typically as or more religiously devout and spiritual than men, any relationship
between women’s religiosity and honor beliefs assumes a special importance for understanding
why women might accept honor codes.” Other authors also recommend that research efforts
do not underplay the powerful inﬂuence of religion on people’s collective belief systems, or
overlook evidence that indicates ‘honor’ crimes are particularly widespread in strongly patriar-
chal and collectivist societies where Islam is the prevailing religion (Grzyb, 2016; Vandello,
2016). To some degree, an open and transparent exploration of these factors would allow for a
fuller consideration of what Aplin (2017, p. 2) refers to as the “patriarchal bargain”, that women
from collectivist honor cultures are forced to engage in, “in order to resist total male control,
women become participants with a vested interest in the system that oppresses them. Rather
than resist and rebel, women negotiate within this conﬁned and limited space, as a form of
Much can be drawn by piecing together the ﬁndings of these attitudinal studies. While they
demonstrate a pressing need for further research, they also indicate that across a range of ages
and populations in a number of collectivist cultures, both males’ and females’ attitudes may play
a part in maintaining the propagation of ‘honor’ based abuse. While, to some degree, this might
have been expected for males, the support of honor violence and victim-blame against women
by a proportion of females in these studies brings into question the naive assumption that women
might always act as protectors, and effectively safeguard girls and young women from harm
(Aplin, 2017; Chesler, 2015). It would be useful if intervention approaches responded to these
ﬁndings by designing culturally aware programs that aim to effectively educate both male and
female family members. It would also be prudent if emergency, health, and welfare services
revised training programs to increase professionals’ awareness of the potential for latent support
for ‘honor’ abuse in vulnerable families and communities, regardless of gender. The attitudes of
practitioners are of vital importance, not least because these victims are at an even more elevated
risk when they break the powerful and archaic codes of family honor to seek help, support, and
protection from external agencies.
1 The terms ‘honor’-based violence, ‘honor’ abuse, ‘honor’ crimes, and ‘honor’ killings are used throughout
for succinctness and consistency; these terms differ across cited sources but they all refer to crimes
committed in the name of so called ‘honor’.
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