2018 Fall

Redefining Honor to Fight Honor Killings

For centuries women have been killed in the name of honor, a custom that Khalida Brohi refers to as "ego killings," a way of preserving mens' egos by controlling the women around them. In her powerful talk, Brohi examines the relation of honor to tradition and religion and shares about her experience of fighting this crime by claiming honor for herself and redefining it to empower women. Brohi believes that honor, which has been misused in tribal areas of Pakistan, is actually essential to a growing and healthy society. By redefining and reclaiming honor, we can find ways to fight the crimes that use it. Brohi was the first girl in her village, located in the province of Balochistan, to go to school. She attended school in Karachi. In 2004, when Brohi was 16, a close friend became a victim of an honor killing. Her friend was killed because she wanted to marry a person she loved instead of someone her family chose. Brohi began to protest honor killings while she was in Karachi, but this only angered people and caused the tribal leaders to oppose her. She fled Karachi in 2008.

Brohi recalls that in response, her father told her, "don't cry, strategize." Instead of openly protesting, she created the Sughar Empowerment Society, which is a non-profit organization which helps women in Pakistan learn skills related to "economic and personal growth." Sughar means "skilled, confident woman" in Urdu.