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Last update: April 2022

This profile refers to individuals whose actions, behaviours, or practices are perceived as transgressing moral codes and as shameful to family honour.

COI summary

Honour-based violence, especially but not exclusively against women, is a common occurrence in Afghanistan. The accusation of dishonour against a woman alone can bring perceived shame to the family. The former Penal Code prescribed less severe punishments for killings done to defend honour. Offenders of attacks against women often enjoyed impunity [State structure, 3.3.1; Society-based targeting, 3.7, 7.2].

Zina is a moral crime perceived in Afghanistan as shameful and can be applied to women, as well as to men. This is a broad concept of all behaviour outside the norm: sex outside marriage, illicit sexual relations, adultery and pre-marital sex. Zina can also be imputed to a woman in case of rape or sexual assault. It can lead to death threats and honour violence, including honour killings. Zina is punishable under the Sharia and was also criminalised under the former Penal Code. Prosecution for zina affected women to a larger degree; punishment is also harsher for women [Criminal law and customary justice, 1.2; Society-based targeting, 3.5, 3.6].

Already, before the takeover, women seeking protection faced deficiencies in the implementation and awareness of relevant laws, as well as a gender-biased and discriminatory justice system. Women who fled home were often brought back to their family by the police or were imprisoned for ‘moral crimes’. In detention, they faced further sexual abuse or harassment by officials [Criminal law and customary justice, 1.6; Society-based targeting, 3.6.4, 3.8.4; State structure, 3.2. See also the section 2.12.1 Violence against women and girls: overview].

Risk analysis

The acts to which individuals under this profile could be exposed are of such severe nature that they would amount to persecution (e.g. imprisonment, corporal punishment, honour-based violence and killing).

Not all individuals under this profile would face the level of risk required to establish well-founded fear of persecution. The individual assessment of whether there is a reasonable degree of likelihood for the applicant to face persecution should take into account risk-impacting circumstances, such as: gender (the risk is higher for women), area of origin (particularly affecting rural areas), conservative environment, perception of traditional gender roles by the family, power/influence of the actors involved, the moral and/or societal norm transgressed etc.

Nexus to a reason for persecution

Available information indicates that persecution of this profile may be for reasons of religion and/or (imputed) political opinion or membership of a particular social group. The latter could be based on common background which cannot be changed (perceived past behaviour) and a distinct identity in the context of Afghanistan, linked to their stigmatisation by the surrounding society.



 See other topics concerning individuals perceived to have transgressed moral and/or societal norms: