Honor Killing and Other Violence

The term "honor killing" and other violence refers to the practice in some Middle Eastern and South Asian countries in which male members of the family are understood to be duty-bound to murder a female family member, or otherwise harm, if they believe she has brought dishonor and shame to their family by transgressing social norms. Claims based on fear of honor killing or violence are often dismissed as purely personal. CGRS advocates for the recognition that “honor killing” occurs because of women’s status in society and a climate of impunity, and that it should be a basis for asylum eligibility.  In 2011, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals recognized honor killing as a form of gender-based persecution in Sarhan v. Holder; 658 F.3d 649 (7th Cir. 2011). CGRS is working to expand Sarhan’s reach.

  • Matter of A-O- (2002): A woman from Jordan who feared “honor killing” was initially denied asylum in 1998 by an immigration judge and then by the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA), but the (then called) Immigration and Naturalization Service withdrew its opposition after pressure from members of Congress. The BIA granted Ms. A-O- asylum in 2002. CGRS joined as co-counsel when the case went to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.