The epidemiological patterns of honour killing of women in Pakistan

Document Type



Emergency Medicine



Honour killing (HK) is a problem of public health concern but published data on the phenomenon are limited and many cases likely go unrecognized. Our study focuses on the epidemiological patterns of HK of women in Pakistan, where domestic violence is common and HK occurs but is poorly described.


Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) systematically collected data on HK of women using newspaper reports from January 2004 till December 2007. We analysed the aggregated data on HK through December 2007 and estimated the rates of HK.


A total of 1957 HK events occurred from 2004 to 2007, complete data was not available for all variables. Adults (18 years) constituted 82 (803/978) of death toll with 88 (1257/1435) being married. Alleged extramarital relation was the major reason for the killing (92, 1759/1902). Husbands (43, 749/1739), brothers (24, 421/1739) and other close relatives (12, 200/1739) were the perpetrators in known HK events. Among the weapons/methods used for killing, firearms (61, 1071/1768), stabbing (4, 65/1768), use of axe (12, 220/1768), edged tool (8;136/1768) and strangulation (9, 167/1768) were the main means of execution. The mean annual rate of HK in females (age 1564 years) was found to be 15.0 per million.

Newspaper reports are good source of surveillance when information is limited. We found that adult married women constituted the majority of victims of HK. Ongoing surveillance would serve to better characterize HK in Pakistan and assess the effectiveness of preventive strategies.

Publication (Name of Journal)

European Journal of Public Health