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Book Talk: Women in the Crossfire: Understanding and Ending Honor Killing

Book Talk: Women in the Crossfire: Understanding and Ending Honor Killing

Monday, February 11, 2019
12:00pm - 1:00pm

On Monday, February 11th at 12:00 noon at START Headquarters, Dr. Robert Churchill will give a presentation on his book, Women in the Crossfire: Understanding and Ending Honor Killing. This event is free and open to the public, but RSVPs are appreciated. If you are not a START affiliate, please email Eva Coll (escoll@umd.edu) if you're interested in attending for more information.

Every year, thousands of girls and women die at the hands of blood relatives. These victims are accused of committing honor violations that bring shame upon their families: such 'transgressions' range from walking with a boy in their neighborhood to seeking to marry a man of their own choosing, to being a victim of rape.

Women in the Crossfire presents a thorough examination of honor killing, an ages-old social practice through which women are trapped and subjected to terror and deadly violence as consequences of the evolution of dysfunctional patriarchal structures and competition among men for domination. To understand the practice of honor killing, its root causes, and possibilities for protection and prevention, Robert Paul Churchill considers the issues from a variety of perspectives: epistemic, anthropological, sociological, cultural, ethical, historical, and psychological. He makes use of original research by analyzing a database of honor killing cases, published here for the first time.

Specifically, Women in the Crossfire addresses the salient traits and trends present in honor killing incidents and examines how honor is understood in socio-cultural contexts where these killings occur. The book aims to illuminate causal pathways that combine to produce the tragedy of honor killing. Socialization within honor-shame cultures, factors such as gender construction, child-rearing practices, and adverse experiences prime boys and men to take roles as one-day killers of sisters, daughters, and wives in the name of honor. The book further relies on theories of cultural evolution to explain how honor killing was an adaptation to specific ecological challenges and co-evolved with other patriarchic institutions.

The ultimate aim of Women in the Crossfire is to convey promising methods of preventing future honor killings, and to protect girls and women from victimization.

Robert Paul Churchill served as Elton Professor of Philosophy at George Washington University, chair of the department of philosophy, and director of the peace studies program. Author of numerous works on human rights, ethics, moral psychology, and public policy, he was president of Concerned Philosophers for Peace and the American Society for Value Inquiry. Churchill was also a founder of the Society for Philosophy in the Contemporary World which he directed for eight years.