Girls' response to honor-related violence

June 18, 2012

Girls in families characterised by strong social control often live a double life. Yet the roles and relations in these families are much less static than commonly thought, according to a new doctoral thesis from the University of Gothenburg, Sweden.

Honour-related and oppression has become a social problem. But the phenomenon is far more multifaceted and dynamic than typically portrayed in media. These are some of the findings presented by Siv-Britt Björktomta in her doctoral thesis, which is based on interviews with eleven 16-20 year old females who live in families characterised by strong patriarchal control. The interviewees expressed that they live with restrictions and control of their social life and sexuality.

'My study explores the from the perspective of the daughters,' says Björktomta.

The thesis focuses on the girls' strategies to handle conflicts between norms in the family and in the surrounding majority society. They were not allowed to have a boyfriend and had to accept a strict virginity requirement, which restricted their space for action in many ways. Their stories show how the idea that a daughter's virginity is the symbol of the family's reputation and honour meant that they had to shoulder the burden of being cultural symbols and boundary markers – with moral implications – between the 'Swedish' and the 'non-Swedish'.

The described a family situation characterised by control, harassment, emotional blackmailing, threats and physical violence. The father's authority and power were taken as given in all families. At the same time, resistance against the boyfriend ban and the virginity requirement was presented by all the interviewees – implying that they lived a double life. Yet the resistance did affect how the parents, and the fathers in particular, exercised their power. Both norms and family relations were in constant movement, and in some families there were signs of increased gender equality, whereas the violence was escalating in others.

Almost all studied young women said that family belonging has to be earned. They described a patriarchal family structure at the same time as they were longing for a more democratic and negotiating .

Explore further: Study reveals the heavy toll anorexia takes on families

Related Stories

Study reveals the heavy toll anorexia takes on families

April 8, 2008

While the primary focus of media attention and medical treatment is the individual's battle with anorexia nervosa, research from University of Western Sydney reveals that anorexia can have a long term impact on the physical, ...

For family violence among adolescents, mattering matters

April 18, 2011

Adolescents who believe they matter to their families are less likely to threaten or engage in violence against family members, according to a new study led by Brown University sociologist Gregory Elliott. The research s ...

More children in Europe with Swedish family policy

October 4, 2011

European politicians who want women to have more children should consider the Swedish model with subsidised child care and paid parental leave. This is the conclusion of a new doctoral thesis from the University of Gothenburg.

Recommended for you

Just how good (or bad) is the fossil record of dinosaurs?

August 28, 2015

Everyone is excited by discoveries of new dinosaurs – or indeed any new fossil species. But a key question for palaeontologists is 'just how good is the fossil record?' Do we know fifty per cent of the species of dinosaurs ...

Fractals patterns in a drummer's music

August 28, 2015

Fractal patterns are profoundly human – at least in music. This is one of the findings of a team headed by researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Dynamics and Self-Organization in Göttingen and Harvard University ...

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

bredmond
not rated yet Jun 19, 2012
not directly relevant to this article, but i have considered lately why society encourages sex. i am suspicious that sex forms emotional attachments that are hard to ignore, and could lead to continued involvements in relationships that are not ideal. or a large sex life could lead to more feelings of detachment. but eventually, i dont know for sure and feel there should be more scientific data on this before a decision is made. but this article shows more about a power struggle. i am talking about a discouragement of sex between people outside of marriage from all people in society because of the psychological harm it could cause...that is if the data supports it of course.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.