Family matters: Women and girls are killed to restore family honour

What happens when family relationships are distorted by the most extreme forms of patriarchy? This touches on the concept of honour killings.

CapeTalk's Pippa Hudson talks to researcher and activist from Perth, Australia Johanna Higgs about the concept of these honour killings.

Higgs founded a non-profit organisation Project MonMa that highlights some of the crises facing women in different parts of the world, and advocates for the advancement of their rights.

Higgs says in all her travels, she found despite so much diversity, there was one recurring theme that kept cropping up.

That was these discriminating attitudes towards women, and the very normalised understanding of violence, that violence against women was normal.

Johanna Higgs, Founder of MonMa

Higgs knew she wantede to be a part of the worldwide movement fighting for women's rights and founded Project MonMa - which is Ugandan for 'women who don't need men', the concept being women can become independent.

Higgs has done work in Northern Iraq where she encountered the practice of honour killing.

An honour killing, is usually the killing of a girl or woman to restore the honour to a family for a perceived transgression, which is usually associated with something sexual

Johanna Higgs, Founder of MonMa

Higgs says she heard accounts where a girl was shot for talking to a boy. The father or brother will carry out the shooting and it is often termed a 'shotgun accident'. Higgs says while not legally sanctioned, it is socially acceptable, and there are no legal consequences.

It is very difficult for women activists in that area, and some have had to live in exile because of their work. But, she says, there are groups that are pushing back against honour killings.

Higgs added that these honour killings happen over large parts of the Middle East, India, Bangladesh and even in Europe.

Listen to the entire conversation below:

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