Under such conditions, control over marriage and reproduction is critical to the socioeconomic status of kinship groups and the regulation of female behavior is integral to perceptions of honor, known as maryada in many Indian languages and as ghairat in Urdu and Pashto.
In such an environment, a woman who refuses to enter into an arranged marriage, seeks a divorce, or fails to avoid suspicion of immoral behavior will be viewed by her family as having dishonored them so grievously that her male relatives will be ostracized and her siblings will have trouble finding suitable spouses.
The millions of Indian Hindus who have immigrated to the West do not bring the practice along with them.
The average age of all of the victims in this study, both male and female, was 22, with no statistically significant differences among the groups.
Four percent were killed jointly by both the man's and the woman's families of origin; in one case it was the allegedly shamed husband of a woman who did the killing; in no cases was it just the man's family of origin.
In Pakistan, the woman's family of origin was responsible for 78 percent of the killings while husbands of "adulterous" wives accounted for another 16 percent.
Killing her is the only way the family can restore its honor, regardless of whether she actually is or can be proven guilty of the alleged offense.
In sharp contrast to other forms of domestic violence, honor killings are frequently performed out in the open, and the perpetrators rarely act alone.
Over the last few years, however, the media has published a flurry of articles about Hindu honor killings in India, the only non-Muslim-majority country where these murders are still rampant. Apologists for Muslim culture and civilization rushed to herald the upsurge in Hindu (and Sikh) honor killings as evidence that the practice is "a universal problem, not an Islamic issue." While India is indeed a striking exception to Islam's near monopoly on contemporary honor killings, the following preliminary statistical survey shows Hindu honor killings in India to be different in form and commission from those of Muslims in neighboring Pakistan.