Aggravating circumstances

Due to a few sensational law suits in various Western countries, among which Belgium, Germany and Canada, media attention has again shifted to the increasing number of honour killings. Nobody exactly knows how many such crimes are committed on a yearly basis. After all, the political correct lobby has gone at lengths to keep this compromising issue under the rug. In many cases, such murders got covered up as suicides or mere accidents. Sometimes, young girls or women are murdered by relatives when on a trip in the country of origin where honour killings are usually dismissed.  Honour killings very often pass off unnoticed, since they are mainly classified as “domestic violence” or “passionate murders”. Belgian law for instance, even lacks a precise definition of honour killings. Sultan Balli, a psychologist and former chairman of ELLA, the knowledge centre for gender and ethnicity issues, described this dreadful phenomenon as follows: “According to the traditional Turkish definition, an honour killing is a family decision to kill a relative because he or she has violated family honour.” But sometimes, such killings are as well committed by individual perpetrators free from family restraint. When a man slays his wife or daughter on suspicion of having an undue sexual relationship, we can call this an honour killing, even if none of his kin is involved. Balli feels, there is no need for a different approach of honour killings.  It’s just plain murder. However, on the website of ELLA we can also read the following disquieting statement of Balli’s: “But perhaps it is still possible to claim extenuation when honour is a key value in a certain culture. It happens that boys are pressured to kill by members of their family. Therefore, it’s of utmost importance that instigating relatives are called to account as well.” Of course we do want to have every active and passive accessory to an honour killing being locked up. Also all forms of negligent omission ought to be regarded in such cases. However, we refuse to accept that the perpetrators’ cultural background could be considered as a mitigating element. There can’t be anything mitigating about honour killings. A felony of this kind always results from malice aforethought, which is no extenuating but an aggravating circumstance.