Trump’s Muslim Ban & the Propaganda Value of Violence Against Women

Publication Type: 
Other Writing
Publication Date: 
February 13, 2017

There has been much well-deserved criticism of President Trump’s Executive Order imposing a Muslim Ban on entry into the United States and the chaotic and non-deliberative process by which it was promulgated. One line, however, has escaped sufficient attention (in italics below):

In addition, the United States should not admit those who engage in acts of bigotry or hatred (including “honor” killings, other forms of violence against women, or the persecution of those who practice religions different from their own) or those who would oppress Americans of any race, gender, or sexual orientation.

Honor crimes” are acts of murder and other forms of retaliatory violence against women (and sometimes men).  Such crimes are almost always perpetrated by a male family member against his sister, daughter, or wife on the ground that she has, in the perpetrator’s eyes, brought “dishonor” on the family. Her offense: “refusing to bend to the will of her family” when it comes to marriage, her comportment, or her life choices. Perversely, women—who may be considered the repository of the entire family’s honor—can also be the victim of honor crimes if they are raped, are the victim of incest, or try to escape abusive relationships.

Honor crimes take many forms, including acid attacks, mutilation, stoning, and murder.  Such acts of violence manifest a communal element and are often ignored, condoned, defended, and or even praised, by family members (including other women), the wider community, and local officials charged with law enforcement. Human rights organizations and the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary and Arbitrary Executions have documented the commission of honor crimes around the world, including in diaspora communities. The United Nations recorded 5,000 honor killings in 2010; the actual number is likely much higher due to cover-ups and the systemic lack of reporting or investigation.  (Recorded deaths are particularly high in India and Pakistan). Although these crimes are usually perpetrated by private actors, states bear international obligations under a range of human rights treaties to protect women from intimate violence, investigate and punish the perpetrators of crimes committed against women, and provide access to justice and rehabilitative services.

Read the full post at Just Security