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Links found between ‘honour’-based violence and cousin marriages

Dr Joanne Payton, who has worked with IKWRO for over ten years, has just published a paper drawn from her thesis which makes connections between cousin marriage and the prevalence of ‘honour’-based violence.

‘This connection has been suggested since the late 1960s,’ explains Joanne, ‘but has never really been empirically tested. I used an online survey and statistical analysis to find that in families in which a cousin marriage had taken place, the likelihood of ‘honour’-based violence occurring in that same family was doubled.’

Although high levels of cousin marriage can indicate tribal families, anxious to maintain their family status, these patterns are likely to be found in other types of in-group marriage, Joanne suggests. ‘Where there’s a requirement to marry in a way that creates solidarities, whether this is about maintaining a tribal identity, or an ethnic, religious or class identity, these patterns of violence and coercion will occur. ‘Honour’ is something that arises in systems where marriages are used as tools to express relationships within and between groups, where women are effectively treated as a form of currency.’

Joanne developed her understanding of ‘honour’ through her years of volunteering with IKWRO. ‘I have to thank all the amazing women here, both staff and clients, for their inspiration, understanding and warmth,’ she said.

Joanne’s paper is published in the Journal of Interpersonal Violence. You can find out more about her work at her blog.

Photo by Giorgio Montersino

1 Reply to “Links found between ‘honour’-based violence and cousin marriages”

  1. philomena rhodes

    What also needs addressing is the prevalence of children born with birth defects to some of these women. It is so wrong that these marriages are taking place without any advice being given to prospective parents about the added risks. Whilst they may be excellent parents to these children, it is a tragedy that children and particularly women, are having to suffer the results of this practice. Personally, I believe it is time to ban close-relative marriages. Joanne is right and women are being bartered to keep wealth in families.

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