Home / Blog / Article


September 22 2009

The Dual-Edged Sword of Prosecuting Honor Crimes

Nicole Kurokawa Neily

Britain's police are being instructed to assume some crimes they investigate are "honor" crimes if there is the "slightest sign that such an offense has taken place - even if the victim has not reported it."

From the Daily Mail:

Hundreds of attacks are to be treated as 'honour' crimes in a new drive by police to prosecute more offenders.

Prosecutors hope the drive will also ensure that victims receive more rapid protection that can save them from possible further violence or a forced marriage.

...

Under the new approach, which mimics the detection techniques used to tackle race-hate crime following the Stephen Lawrence murder, reports from friends or relatives about possible honour violence will be taken seriously, even if the victim has failed to raise the alarm.

While well-intentioned, the unintended consequences of this law are chilling. To assume a crime's intent before an investigation is a dangerous endeavor. To assume so based solely upon the ethnicity of the accused is racial profiling.

Additionally, to assign special priority to a class of cases based solely upon ethnicity inadvertently creates a two-tier system - for example, acknowledging domestic violence as a serious crime, but domestic violence against a Muslim woman as a crime of particular significance. What kind of message does that send to victims across the board?

Honor crimes are a serious issue, and should be addressed both inside the Muslim community and in society at large through education about basic rights and stringent enforcement of existing laws (which already take into account intent.) But it should not come at the expense of due process.

Independent Women’s Forum’s mission is to improve the lives of Americans by increasing the number of women who value free markets and personal liberty. Sister organization of Independent Women’s Voice.
Follow us