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Confrontational and revenge murder

Exploring in more depth confrontational and revenge murder.
© University of Hull

Confrontational homicide: ‘Characterised as face-to-face spontaneous honour contests. Offender and victim become involved in a spontaneous dispute and engage together in a violent confrontation that leads to the death of one of them’.

Revenge Homicide: ‘Characterised as planned attacks. The offender plans to kill the victim due to some perceived wrongdoing (against themselves or a third party, such as a family member or female partner). Weapons often secured and the victim sought out and given little or no chance to engage in an altercation.’. (Brookman, 2005:124)

Let’s think about honour killings in more depth. It’s likely that when you hear the term ‘honour killing’, you think about situations like Celine Dookhran’s whereby a girl or woman has been seen to bring dishonour on her family and has been murdered as a result. However, the notion of killing for honour can be expanded much further than this, confrontational and revenge homicide are two examples of this.

Confrontational homicide is where two people spontaneously become involved in a conflict which becomes violent and one of them dies. The key points to note here are that the incident was spontaneous and that both the victim and perpetrator were involved together. Therefore it is possible that either of the people involved could have become the victim. Think, for example, of two men in a bar. Man A accidentally spills his drink over Man B. Man B feels like it was done on purpose and feels disrespected. To uphold his ‘honour’ he starts a confrontation with Man A. Man A is annoyed that he is being accused of spilling his drink on purpose and engages in the confrontation. It ends in a fight and one of them dies. Realistically, either of them could have been the one who died.

Revenge homicide, on the other hand, is a planned attack by the perpetrator, against the victim. The attack is not spontaneous and the victim is unlikely to have chance to engage in a way to be able to defend himself. Go back to the example of the bar: Man A spills his drink over Man B. Man B leaves the bar, goes to locate a weapon and returns to the bar where he kills unarmed Man A.

Both of these types of homicide could be considered forms of honour killings where the ‘honour’ of the perpetrator has been challenged and the confrontation (in confrontational homicide) or the attack (in revenge homicide) is a method of regaining that honour. They are both considered particularly masculine crimes, predominantly perpetrated by men. Masculine homicide is often considered to be the result of spontaneous confrontation where one man’s honour is challenged and another man is willing to engage in physical violence as a response.

In the time frame of 1995-2000, 59% of all homicides in England and Wales involved a male victim and a male perpetrator.

© University of Hull
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