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Shame

An honor killing outside Atlanta, GA. How odd is that? States dealing with cultural practices from other countries would do well to familiarize themselves with the concepts that shape practices.

The concept of shame plays a significant role in the practice of honor killings. A method of controlling social behavior, engaging in any behavior that might bring shame to the family is forbidden.  The woman in Georgia wanted to divorce her husband. Her father, rejecting the shame that would come of divorce, allegedly killed his daughter and said he had done nothing wrong. From Pakistan, the father was not invoking Islamic tradition, but that of the tribe.

Those who must cope with these situations would do well to look at comparable tribal concepts and traditions in America. The Navajo used notions of shame as a method of social control. People moderated their behavior in order to reduce the possibility of bringing shame and disgrace upon the family. However, killing the offender was limited to those who were believed to practice witchery. If they could be banished, they were in preference to killing as the Navajo have a strong aversion to death and coming into contact with the dead.

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