Comprised of ninety-nine chapters, along with an Introduction, this latest book by Jewish feminist, academic and media commentator, Phyllis Chesler, A Family Conspiracy brings together material going back to 2004. The theme that binds all together is Chesler's concern to bring into focus the phenomenon of "honor killing," an extremely controversial term. For while it covers a variety of crimes against women perpetrated by families against their own mothers, wives and daughters with the spurious and vague rationalization of protecting or avenging the honor of the family, it is distinct from what is known as "domestic abuse" in westernized countries where such violence against women is against the law and not tolerated by the general public.
Domestic violence or the killing of wives, daughters and other women in the USA and Europe tends to occur randomly and usually against strangers. The more horrific the killing the less likely the perpetrator is to know his victim. When it is a matter of Muslim on Muslim, Sikh on Sikh or Hindu on Hindu murder, the crimes are well-planned out, carefully carried out by members of the family, and honored by the community. Honor killing is a form of social control over women and their bodies, a religious and customary or legal mode of punishment carried out on behalf of the whole community, and perceived as a necessary and virtuous act.