When a woman's "virtue" comes into question - for whatever reason - or if she refuses to obey her father, husband, or brother, her family's "honor" is thought to have been disgraced. In order to restore the family's good name, the woman must be killed by a male relative. Honor killings are based on the belief that a woman is the property of her family.
As many as 5000 women and girls are murdered by family members each year in honor killings.
These crimes are socially sanctioned in many countries. The killers are treated with leniency because defense of the "family honor" is considered to be a mitigating factor. In Jordan, where 1 out of every 4 homicides is an honor killing, men serve an average of 3 to 12 months for the crime.
A dowry is a sum of money or items of value given by a bride's family to the groom. Families agree beforehand to a certain dowry amount, but after marriage the husband's family often blackmails the bride to squeeze more out of her family. If the demands for more money or goods are not met, the husband or his family may kill the bride. This is often done by holding her over the cooking stove so her clothing catches fire and she burns to death. They can then begin the process of finding their son a new wife.
Many brides commit suicide to save their families from these demands. In 1997 as many as 17 women per day in India were murdered when their families failed to make dowry payments. In 1999, the government of India indicated a 15.2% rise in dowry deaths.
In some countries, women and girls are being attacked with acid as a result of family disputes, or rejected sex or marriage proposals. Those who survive are permanently disfigured and/or blinded. Perpetrators of these attacks frequently escape punishment.