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While the Qur'an preaches the equality of all Muslims (or at least all Muslim males), and Islamic leaders frequently bemoan the evils of India's caste system, vestiges of caste identification are evident among some Pakistani Muslims, who are descended from Hindus who were forcibly converted to Islam in the Middle Ages and were part of India before 1947. It is difficult to accurately estimate the number of honor killings that take place in Pakistan and India as the vast majority are believed to go unreported.
In 2010, there were roughly 900 reported honor killings in the northern Indian states of Haryana, Punjab, and Uttar Pradesh alone while 100-300 additional honor killings took place in the rest of the country. Also in 2010, according to the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, 800 women were killed for honor in Pakistan. Both figures likely represent only the tip of the iceberg.
Overwhelmingly, it was the women's families that committed the honor killings even in cases in which there were male victims.
In India, 94 percent of the killings were carried out by the woman's family of origin.
Although the overwhelming majority of honor killings worldwide occur within Muslim communities, one would not know this by reading the mainstream media.
Fearful of being labeled "Islamophobic," the American press has given only glancing attention to the widespread, honor-related ritual murder of Muslim women in the Middle East and South Asia while treating periodic honor killings among Muslim immigrants in the West as ordinary domestic abuse cases.
Not even celebrity status can shield Muslim women from punishments related to honor crimes.
Actress Afshan Azad (left), seen here with Harry Potter co-star Rupert Grint, was beaten and threatened with death in 2010 by her father and brother for dating a non-Muslim.
According to a 2006 survey, 76 percent of the Indian public oppose inter-caste marriage. In some areas of the country, any marriage not arranged by the family is widely regarded as taboo. only whores can choose their partners," one council leader told an Indian reporter. Although Islam does not specifically endorse killing female family members, some honor killings involve allegations of adultery or apostasy, which are punishable by death under Shari'a (Islamic law).
Hindu honor killings in the West have been too rare to allow for valid statistical comparisons. The researchers relied on English language media reports for data, selecting the first cases that met the criteria of being a Hindu or Muslim honor killing and about which most of the following seven variables were known: location/religion; gender of victim; motive; the presence or absence of torture; age; number of victims per incident; and whether it was the woman's or the man's family who committed the killing.
The average age of all of the victims in this study, both male and female, was 22, with no statistically significant differences among the groups.
The millions of Indian Hindus who have immigrated to the West do not bring the practice along with them.
The recent spike of honor killings in India is likely the product of a clash between traditional and modern values, intensified by high economic growth and increasing social mobility.