Honor killings in America

Partly because the authorities don’t distinguish honor violence in their records, we do not know exactly how many women and girls are victims of honor violence in the United States. In 2000 the United Nations Population Fund estimated that the annual worldwide number of honor killings as high as 5,000, an estimate that is likely too conservative. In the United States, there were at least 10 victims of honor-related violence (most of whom died as a result of the inflicted violence) between 2000 and 2008, though there were almost certainly other cases that were not identified. In 2011, a study by the Tahirih Justice Center found 3,000 known or suspected cases of forced marriage in the United States in the prior two years.

Moreover, the numbers seem very likely to rise in the years to come. Immigration trends over the last ten years, show a significant increase in the number of people moving to the United States from countries with high honor violence rates–notably Somalia, where I was born, as well as Iraq.

The United Nations estimates that, around the world, 130 million girls and women have experienced genital mutilation, and that each year three million girls are at risk of being “cut.” In the United States, more than half a million women are estimated either to have undergone FGM or to be at risk of it. This number marks a sharp rise in the prevalence of FGM in the U.S. compared to just over just a decade ago. The reason for the increase, according to the PRB, is the rise in the number of immigrants from countries where FGM is common. Those trends show no trends of abating.

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