Child protection provisions
In addition to the general victim protection provisions described in the preceding section, drafters of “honour” crimes legislation should take into account the fact that victims of “honour” crimes are often minors, and drafters should ensure that “honour” crimes legislation addresses the special needs of these young victims.
- Legislation should ensure that there are child welfare laws and policies to prevent child abuse.
- Legislation should identify “honour” crimes as a form of child abuse.
- Legislation should mandate that prevention and prosecution of “honour” crimes and killings are given the same resources as other forms of child abuse.
Core elements in child protection laws and systems to protect against “honour” crimes and killings
The following elements should be established as the core elements in child protection laws and systems to protect against “honour” crimes and killings. Elements are discussed in detail further below.
- Legislation should provide for an emergency order for protection remedy for a female in need of protection from an “honour” crime or killing.
- Legislation should authorize the removal of a child from the home if the court determines that a responsible adult has a reasonable fear that a parent or parents or guardian are considering authorizing or carrying out an “honour” crime or killing against that child.
- Legislation should authorize the placement of a child in danger of infliction of an “honour” crime or killing in a shelter, refuge or foster home. Authorization for the child to live in shelter or foster care should include authorization to attend school locally, or attend a boarding school to continue her education.
- Legislation should provide for procedures by which the parents can regain custody of the minor child, including receiving counseling and warnings. Once the minor child has been returned to her parents, legislation should provide for on-going visits to the minor child by social service providers and counselors to ensure the well-being of the minor child. Legislation should provide for counseling of parents on how “honour” crimes and killings constitute a violation of women and girls’ rights.
- Legislation should provide that where court orders are issued for protection against an “honour” crime, the order will remain in place until the parents have demonstrated at a court hearing that they understand that “honour” crimes are illegal, and that they will not carry out this practice.
- Legislation should provide for child-centered legal services, including representation for petitioning for civil or criminal liability victim compensation.
- Legislation should presume that there is no justification for the practice of “honour” crimes and killings.
Example: Ghana Children’s Act of 1998, section 5 states:
“No person shall deny a child the right to live with his parents and family and grow up in a caring and peaceful environment unless it is proved in court that living with his parents would—
(a) lead to significant harm to the child; or
(b) subject the child to serious abuse; or
(c) not be in the best interest of the child.
Termination of parental rights
Child protection laws should also provide that, if after a hearing a court finds by clear and convincing evidence that a parent is palpably unfit to be a party to the parent and child relationship because of a consistent intent and desire to carry out an “honour” crime or killing on a child, it may terminate parental rights. Upon the termination of parental rights all rights, powers, privileges, immunities, duties, and obligations, including any rights to custody, control, visitation, or support existing between the child and parent shall be severed and terminated and the parent shall have no standing to appear at any further legal proceeding concerning the child.
Child protection advisory body
Legislation should mandate the formation of a child protection advisory board consisting of experts in the field who will be able to identify problems with implementation of the law and areas in which more research is needed.
Legislation should require that the advisory board be charged with the duty of researching customary laws, community practices, and attitudes so that evolving practices may be noted and amendments to the law may be drafted as needed.