UN Women


Vice Chair: Kathiyayini Sivakumar

Topic 1: Honor Killings

Distinct from other forms of violence, honor killings committed against women are defined by Human Rights Watch as "acts of vengeance, usually death, committed by male family members against female family members, who are held to have brought dishonor upon the family." Honor killings are usually committed against women whose behavior has been deemed "inappropriate" or shameful and are done to restore the reputation of the family. Inappropriate behavior may include refusing an arranged marriage or marrying someone not chosen by the family, engaging in adultery or premarital sex, and being the victim of sexual assault. A report by the United Nations in the year 2000 estimated 5,000 such killings worldwide per year, but many cases go unreported or are covered up as accidents or suicides. Although 90 countries have signed onto the UN Women's Step It Up initiative to close the gender equality gap and many have committed to addressing gender violence, many countries in the Middle East and North Africa have reduced sentences for honor killings, as well as vague laws regarding sexual assault and domestic violence, all of which allow perpetrators to face less severe consequences for an honor-related crime. In this committee, UN Women will discuss the best strategies for targeting and reducing gender-related honor killings as well as the deep-rooted inequalities behind them.

Topic 2: Child Marriage

The marriage of a child before the age of 18 occurs for 15 million girls each year in every region of the world. While the practice of child marriage stems in part from gender inequality--the belief that girls pose a burden to the family and the desire to control female sexuality--many factors like poverty, cultural norms, and lack of education also play a role. Girls married as children are more likely to be pregnant as adolescents and face greater risks for complications in pregnancy and childbirth that can be damaging or fatal for both the mother and child. In addition, child brides often face a lifetime of disadvantage from dropping out of school and receiving less education, being separated from family and isolated from community activities, and being at greater risk for violence and exploitation. While many countries have set a minimum marriageable age at or above 18 years and have adopted the Sustainable Development Goal regarding eliminating "child, early, and forced marriage," more needs to be done to address the widespread occurrence of child marriages and their impact on girls. Since the practice of child marriage is highly specific to region and context and many different economic and social pressures come into play, this committee will discuss factors influencing child marriage and actions to be taken to prevent it.