Female Sexual Autonomy, Virginity, and Honour-based Violence with Special Focus on the UK

Muki Gorar

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In honour-based patriarchal societies, young girls and women are expected to remain virgins until marriage. If this expectation is not met, the consequences can be very harmful and may even lead to honour killing. Honour killing occurs when a victim (mainly female) is murdered by a relative, due to the perpetrator’s assumption that the victim has brought shame or dishonour upon the family. Having sexual freedom before marriage is considered to be shameful, and it attracts honour related punishment. Chastity of the female members of a family until the wedding night is perceived as a means of safeguarding the family’s honour. In this paper, I argue that these chastity requirements are discriminatory and diminish young girls' and women's self-autonomy and dignity. Furthermore, this is a violation of young girls' and women's human rights. These oppressive conducts and harmful practices have entered Western modern societies via immigration. Therefore, such practices have become issues for host countries to tackle. The complexity and persistency of such a mentality and practice are a hurdle that needs to be addressed by the UK as well.
Original languageEnglish
Article number5
Pages (from-to)72-83
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of International Women's Studies
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2021


  • Gender-based violence
  • Honour-based violence
  • Hymenoplasty
  • Patriarchy
  • Sexual autonomy
  • Virginity
  • Virginity examination
  • Virginity restoration


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