Roles and Responsibilities

last updated December 2014

In partnership with UN Women, The Advocates for Human Rights created the following sections for UN Women's Virtual Knowledge Centre to End Violence against Women and Girls. This section, along with sections addressing other forms of violence against women and girls, may be found under Legislation at www.endvawnow.org.

Data collection and information gathering

Laws should direct the appropriate state agencies to collect quantitative data relating to “honour”-based violence. Quantitative data is obtained by measuring indicators of prevalence, government response, and program performance. This data can be obtained by state statistics offices by utilizing surveys administered to the general population and by obtaining data from relevant administrative sources, such as hospital and police records.  Data should be collected according to United Nations Principles of Official Statistics, also available in ArabicChineseFrenchRussian, and Spanish. In addition, the UN Statistics Division has developed resources on gathering statistics relating to crime:

The Manual for the Development of a System of Criminal Justice Statistics includes a section on victimization surveys, which take into account the fact that many crimes may go unreported and that victimization and self-reporting surveys will help reveal these crimes. This is particularly relevant to “honour” crimes, as many experts estimate that the actual number of such crimes far exceeds the number of reported cases.

Drafters should ensure that laws require the gathering and dissemination of statistics related to “honour” crimes and establish a database to track such information. Authorities should collect data on the following indicators: the forms of “honour”-based violence, incidence, causes and risk factors, the linkages between economic deprivation and exploitation and “honour”-based violence, short-, medium-, and long-term consequences, effects on population sub-groups of women and girls, prosecution rates, convictions, penalties, the relationships between the victim and perpetrator(s), victimization patterns including repeat or multiple victimization, ethnicity, age, sex, disability, religion, and the use of weapons or dangerous substances. (See: Resolution Adopted by the General Assembly, Strengthening Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Responses to Violence against Women, U.N. Doc. A/Res/65/228, 2011, Annex: Updated Model Strategies and Practical Measures on the Elimination of Violence against Women in the Field of Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice.)

Examplethe Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence requires parties to undertake to “collect disaggregated relevant statistical data at regular intervals” on cases of violence against women, including “honour” crimes (Art. 11(1)). The Convention also calls on parties to “endeavor to conduct population-based surveys at regular intervals to assess the prevalence of and trends” in all forms of violence against women, including “honour” crimes (Art. 11(2)). 

Laws should allocate adequate public funding for qualitative studies to better understand the causes, dynamics and consequences of “honour” and “honour” crimes in the applicable country. Qualitative data goes beyond the scope of statistics to provide a deeper, more nuanced understanding of the issue. For example, the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence calls on states parties to support research on all forms of violence against women “in order to study its root causes and effects, incidences and conviction rates” (Art. 11(1)). Monitors should also assess existing legislation, policies and programmes for the prevention of violence against women, the prosecution of violent offenders, and the protection of survivors.

They should then analyze how effective these laws, protocols, and programs are in attaining victim safety and offender accountability and preventing violence against women.  The UN Office of the High Commission for Human Rights has issued a Training Manual on Human Rights Monitoring and a Trainer’s Guide, which provides guidelines for human rights monitoring. Chapter V of the UN Training Manual sets forth the basic principles of human rights monitoring, including monitoring as a method of improving the protection of human rights, the principle of doing no harm, respecting the mandate, knowing the standards, using good judgment, seeking consultation, respecting authorities, maintaining credibility and confidentiality, taking basic security measures, understanding the country, maintaining consistency, persistence, and patience, providing accuracy and precision in reporting, remaining impartial and objective, being sensitive to the security and psychological needs of the interviewees, and maintaining integrity, professionalism, and visibility. While all of the principles set forth in the UN Training Manual are essential, the principle of doing no harm and maintaining confidentiality is of the utmost importance to protect victims and prevent further victimization or harm. The fact-finder’s principle duty is to the victim or potential victims of human rights violations, and at a minimum, the fact-finder must refrain from actions or omissions that would endanger their safety. (The UN Office of the High Commission for Human Rights is in the process of revising and reissuing the Training Manual on Human Rights Monitoring. For currently available sections of the new manual, see: Manual on Human Rights Monitoring, No. 7 / Rev. 1.)

Example: The United Nations Population Fund conducted a qualitative study on “honour” killings in Turkey. The publication sets forth a brief description of its methodology, which included training on the project, interview protocol, qualitative methodologies, and background on “honour” killings. This study used two interview protocols for individuals and NGOs. Field experts also analyzed the information gathered to better assess the punishments used in “honour” crimes cases.

(See the section on Monitoring of Laws on Violence against Women and Girls; Indicators, Crime and Violence against Women, Supporting Paper, UNODC, 2007)

Examples:

United Kingdom: The UK Home Office is re-investigating homicides from 1993 to 2003 to determine whether the killings were motivated by “honour”. Although most of the cases were closed, Scotland Yard sought to examine the perpetrators’ motives as part of a broader initiative to develop risk assessment indicators and establish a national law enforcement database to track such crimes. (See Gill, 2009, p. 8)

The Netherlands: The Netherlands has established a new system to track “honour”-related violence and instituted a 5-year, $17 million program to eradicate it in 2006. The program was intended to anticipate “honour” crimes and find the best means to prevent such crimes from occurring in the future, with the safety of the victim as the first priority.  The system tracked 279 “honour”-related crimes in and around The Hague in 2006. An Honour-Related Violence Taskforce has been set up to improve interdepartmental cohesion and the management of “honour” crimes by the Dutch authorities, and enhance “social prevention” of “honour” violence, protection for victims, and criminal prosecution of the perpetrators. 

Public education

Drafters should ensure that laws on “honour” crimes and killings include provision for public awareness and educational campaigns. Information campaigns should aim to dispel gender stereotypes and negative perceptions that discriminate against women and girls and to increase understanding of gender equality and women and girls’ rights. Also, judges, prosecutors, law enforcement, child protection service providers, educators, health providers, media and advocates must undergo training to understand “honour” crimes, its causes, effects, indicators and available remedies and resources for women and girls who are victims of or at-risk of “honour” crimes and killings. “Honour” crimes legislation should provide for collaboration with civil society organizations in crafting and implementing these educational campaigns.  Laws should also provide for the establishment of a central website dedicated to furnishing information about “honour” crimes, victims’ legal rights, and resources for victims and those working them.

Example: The non-governmental Turkish organization, Women for Women’s Human Rights, works in collaboration with the General Directorate for Social Services and Child Protection to provide trainings to women throughout Turkey in socio-economically disadvantaged districts with high immigrant populations. The program social workers as trainers and provides workshops on 16 different topics, including violence against women and strategies against violence. (See: Liz Ercevik Amado, The Human Rights Education Program for Women (HREP): Utilizing state resources to promote women’s human rights in Turkey, New Tactics in Human Rights, 2005) Drafters should ensure that public education programs mandate government agencies to work in partnership with and financially support non-governmental groups with expertise in “honour” crimes and killings.

Laws should ensure that target audiences of these awareness-raising campaigns include religious and community leaders, youth, communities of concern, including minority ethnic communities or immigrants’ communities, media, healthcare, and social and educational sectors that work with children and women.

  • Outreach to religious and customary leaders and institutions should seek to provide them with human rights education, as well as engage them to publicly condemn “honour” crimes. (See: United Nations General Assembly Resolution, “Working towards the elimination of crimes against women and girls committed in the name of honour,” A/RES/59/165 (20045); (34) and Council of Europe Resolution 1681 (2009) ( 4.5-4.7); Civil and Political Rights, Including the Question of Disappearances and Executions: Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions, Report of the Special Rapporteur, Ms. Asma Jahangir, U.N. Doc. E/CN.4/2001/9, 41)
  • Public education of women and girls should provide information on “honour”-based violence, their rights, how to report such crimes and obtain protection, and resources and service providers available to assist them.
  • Public education of service providers and sectors working with children should include a focus on detecting risks of “honour” crimes. and formulating appropriate preventative responses. In particular, given that many “honour” crimes involve girls and young women, educators and school employees should receive information about how to identify and effectively respond to youth at risk of “honour” crimes.   Schools and youth centers should also make available information about resources for those at risk of “honour” crimes, such as furnishing information about victim service providers, shelters, and legal aid.
  • Public awareness campaigns should also target the media to educate them on the human rights violations associated with “honour” crimes and encourage them to report on these crimes in a respectful manner that maintains victims' dignity and privacy. Media should be trained on reporting the dynamics of violence against women and “honour” crimes. (See: Council of Europe Resolution 1681 “The urgent need to combat so-called “honour crimes,” 2009,  4.7
  • Public education efforts should also target the law sector, including judges, police and prosecutors, through trainings on the dynamics of “honour”-based violence and women’s human rights. 
  • Laws should also provide for the creation of educational programs in schools to teach young people about gender-based violence, gender equality, women’s human rights, and alternatives to violence in resolving disputes.
In This Section