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  • Writer's pictureCaroline Raphael

Family - War in Homes

Across the globe we have a common saying

“I brought you into this world, and I can take you out”.

In effect saying, Family gives us ownership over another – even the right to kill.

This is testified to by the widely used and accepted term – Honour killing. By placing Honour before killing, it appears we are justifying and giving permission to murder another, under the protection of family entitlement. As in, we are entitled to kill a brother, sister, mother, daughter, son because we have ownership over them in some way. According to the Honour Based Violence Awareness Network (HBVAN), honour killings are committed within families or social groups with the purpose of controlling behaviour. It is said such murders are carried in the name of protecting cultural beliefs as the family member murdered is believed to have shamed their family or community in some way. (The Sun, 2020)

To further highlight this point. The origin of family is said to have stemmed from Roman times, it’s original title from its Latin word ‘Familia’ (Gill 2019). The meaning of ‘Familia’ “the triad with which we are familiar, two parents and children (biological or adopted), as well as enslaved people and grandparents”. It is stated that the purpose of the Roman Family was to “transmit morality and social status across generations” (Ducksters n.d.). The German philosopher and socialist, Friedrich Engels (1820-1895), argued that the traditional and widely accepted model of family, was created with capitalist intentions and as a means of control (Friedrich, E., 2020). So, it would seem the foundation of family has been corrupted. It has been set on a standard that gives those within it the right to dictate behaviours, values, and morals as an ultimate way to control.

The U.N. Report: states that 50,000 Women A Year Are Killed By Family and Intimate Partners.

And that is only part of the story, not all “honour killings” result in death, many individuals are beaten, abducted, and tortured under the banner of causing dishonour to family. (NPR, 2018)

The term Honour Violence is now also a widely used term to describe the many other forms of abuse that occur within families. These abuses include, physical and or emotional abuse, sexual assault, rape, female genital mutilation, forced marriage and kidnapping. And like Honour Killings, Honour Violence is perpetrated and condoned by family and community members, which often involves more than one family member perpetrating the crime. (AHA Foundation, 2021)

Examples of honour killings and violence committed by family members:

  • Sister stabbed 18 times by her brother and cousin at her family home in Southall, London. Her crime … she had asked to marry an Afghan asylum seeker rather than someone in the Pakistani family circle (Sun, 2020)

  • Young man of 24, was hacked to death with a machete, in front of his 23-year-old pregnant wife. His crime, marrying below his social status (Sun, 2020)

  • Father held a knife to his daughter’s throat while her mother and sister tied her down and beat her, her crime speaking to a man. Their justification, it was for her own good, they were “preserving her virginity for her arranged marriage”. (Global Citizen, 2016)

  • A father in America ran his daughter over with a Jeep for being too Westernizedbecause she “liked make up” and “hoped to be able to support herself”. She had also rejected an arranged marriage to a man in need of a green card. (Global Citizen, 2016)

  • A tribal council ordered the murder of a Pakistani 15-year-old-girl because she helped her neighbour elope — she was drugged, strangled, and then burned to death. (Global Citizen, 2016)

  • In India, UNICEF reports more than 5,000 brides are killed annually because their dowries are considered insufficient (National Geographic, 2002)

  • A young Pakistani woman refused to marry her cousin, as decided by her family. Instead, she eloped with a man she chose for herself. She was three months pregnant when a group of 20 people beat her to death with bricks — the mob included her father, brothers, and the cousin she jilted. (Global Citizen, 2016)

I don't know about you but these all seem more about business transactions than they do about love.
And all of these examples indicate that in our human condition there exists an enslavement to cultural beliefs, certainly over and above love and even above the sanctity of life itself.

It is important to note, that it is a well-established fact that these above examples and thousands more are not a one-off event, someone does not just get murdered without their being a pattern of violence leading to the event. Often, if not always, there have been countless numbers of abuses that have been committed as a form of control. Murder is the end result of control not having been achieved.

In the Western world we like to think honour killings and violence does not occur. In the UK between 2010 and 2014 over 11,000 incidents of honour-based violence’s against women, including genital mutilation and forced marriage, were committed. (Global Citizen, 2016).

In America honour killings and violence are on such a rapid increase that it has led police to call for action to prevent this disturbing trend from further escalating (AHA, 2021).

Which leads us to the title of this article: 'Family: War in our Homes.'

Did you know …

Across populations of all cultures and religions the home is a much more dangerous place than the streets?

  • A study in America found that 60% of victimisations happen within the home,

  • 79% of murders reported were committed by loved ones, and

  • Most homicides are reported to happen within the home (Finkelhor et al., 2009).

And did you know …

  • Having a supportive and caring family has been shown to increase a person’s overall health and well-being.

  • However, the opposite can also be true. Research has found when family is filled with stress, conflict and dis-harmony, the health of family members can be negatively affected (Unite for Sight, n.d.).

Studies have found poor quality and non-supportive families cause both physical and mental harm (Mental Health Center, 2017).

If poor mental health starts in the home and the rates are so high that mental ill health services can’t keep up (which is true) ... then what does that say about what is happening in our homes?

did you know …

That by 2030, globally, mental ill health is projected to cost $16 trillion American dollars (The Carter Center, 2018). That figure looks like this $16,000,000,000,000! 😮

Based on this alarming fact alone, shouldn’t we be asking what is happening in our homes?

If there was an orphanage or a like organisation, such as a school, where, like in families, the rates of murder and death were higher than on the streets and those graduating were developing mental ill health or turning into murderers, wouldn’t we launch an inquiry into that orphanage, school, or organisation? Why is it that family seems to escape this level of scrutiny?

If someone was being controlled and or abused at work so much so they were constantly being told exactly how to think, act and behave to the extent that they were starting to or had developed low self-esteem, lack of self-worth, sliding into levels of depression, stress, anxiety, self-harm, suicidality, or at risk of being murdered, would that organisation have a duty to hold the abuser to account and if not, would that organisation risk being sued? But no such thing exists in family – it is excused, covered up and accepted because it is family. Technically family does have avenues of recourse, such as being able to report domestic violence and child abuse, however, how often do these complaints get made? Often families cover up these abuses (Davey, 2016). There are many reasons for this, including the need to protect family members (even though they have caused harm) and protect the reputation of the family. It is as if we are in a contractual agreement to sustain this level of abuse and not expose what is truly going on in our homes.

We have to start asking questions ...

Is it truly okay to maintain these contractual agreements when such heinous abuse is occurring.

And what about ...

I will not get involved because it is a family matter” as in “it’s not my family so I won’t interfere”.

Who came up with this rule?

Like diplomats who get immunity in the countries they are placed, it appears family is also a sanctioned place of immunity.

Would a teacher see a child being abused by another teacher say, “not my problem, not for me to get involved because that child is not in my class?” We all know the answer is NO and if they did choose to ignore, they would be put up on charges of neglect… they have a mandatory responsibility to ensure the safety of all children. Then don’t we all have a responsibility to ensure the safety of All family members?

I remember a time I was working for one of my brothers and I asked a work question, and he simply tore my head of, not literally, I am still here, but in his tone and aggression I was told quite literally to shut my mouth. When I asked, “would you talk to another employee as you did just me?” I saw by the look on his face the answer was “NO” but as his sister he had a right.

I say let’s re-look at the rules, no one deserves indemnity, not when abuse is involved, not for any reason.


AHA Foundation. (2021) What is Honour Violence? Retrieved from

Allianz Australia Limited. (2021). Lifestyle diseases - Health guide - Allianz Australia. Retrieved from

The Carter Center. (2018, November 16). Mental illness will cost the world $16 USD trillion by 2030. Retrieved from

Davey, M. (2016, October 26). 'Like a spider that keeps building its web': Family of sexual abuse survivor speaks out. Retrieved from

Ducksters. (n.d.). All about the ancient Roman family. Retrieved from

Finkelhor, D., Turner, H., Ormrod, R., Hamby, S., & Kracke, K. (2009). Children's exposure to violence: A comprehensive national survey. PsycEXTRA Dataset. doi:10.1037/e615642009-001

Friedrich Englels. (2010). The origin of the family, private property and the state.

Penguin Group

Gill, N. S. (2019). All about the ancient Roman family. Retrieved from

Global Citizen. (2016, July 21). Everything You Should Know About Honor-Based Violence. Retrieved from

Mental Health Center. (2017, June 8). How does family life affect mental health? Retrieved from

National Geographic. (2002, February 13). Thousands of Women Killed for Family “honor”. Retrieved from

NPR (2018, November 30). U.N. Report: 50,000 Women a year are killed by intimate partners, family members. Retrieved from

The Sun. (2020, September 28). Honour Killings. What is an honour crime and how common are they in the UK? Retrieved from

Thomas, P. A., Liu, H., & Umberson, D. (2017, November). Family relationships and well-being. Retrieved from

Unite for Sight. (n.d.). Family dynamics and health. Retrieved from

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