Unformatted Attachment Preview
Heading: Blood Feuds
Blood feud is an ancient practice by some communities in Pakistan and Albania. People
that practice the phenomenon do that for various reasons. They engage in blood feuds in order to
restore their damaged reputation, to seek justice for offences committed against them, to regain
their honor, to revenge their offences, and to warn others against violations of other people’s
rights. Therefore, the paper intends to explore the issue of blood feuds, and analyze them from a
legal perspective. It also seeks to examine how the practice operates, as well as its benefits and
merits to the people engaging in it.
Origin of blood feuds
Regarding the origin of blood feud, this phenomenon emerged out of the law established
by the Albanian prince more than 50 years ago. According to the law, a crime committed against
honor strictly requires repayment with either an apology or blood. Although authorities
eliminated it in the mid 20th century under the communist regime, the subsequent end of the
regime brought back the custom with revenge. Initially, an offence covered both some action
considered small like referring to a man as a liar before others, as well as severe action like
murder (Bridie, 2005).
To address this issue, individuals and committees of the affected groups in Albania term
themselves as reconcilers. These include the Foundation for Conflict Resolution, the Committee
of Reconciliation, the Peace Missionary Union, famous individuals like Sait Sanli and different
missionary groups. Some of them arrange events where societies promise to abandon the
practice. Others lobby to change the Kanun rules, which are the medieval code that describes the
blood feuds rules, in order to target offenders only. The Albanian government has efforts
including seizing weapons from communities that believe in blood feud. This is crucial, as an
economic crisis of 1997 caused invasions of military premises.
Bridie (2005) asserts that this further led to stealing and distribution of nearly a million
weapons among 3.2 million people. Some reports also say that the government does very little to
eradicate the practice, and that it is not serving justice; hence, the need for individuals to take
justice upon their hands. The perception that it is not the government’s responsibility to mediate
complicates the matter, as that would mean that the government is liable to forgive.
Consequently, there are several unreported blood feud killings, since, this would imply the
jailing and protection of the offender; hence, the impossibility of attacking him.
With respect to effects of blood feuds, blood feuds aim at men. These are different from
honor killings that involve both women and men. The traditional perception of a murder of a
child or a woman under this circumstance was dishonorable. Nonetheless, presently, people do
not strictly adhere to the custom, as the United States embassy in Albania reports that blood
feuds target both women and children. It is worth noting that blood feuds majorly occur in
Albania. Nevertheless, reports also indicate that they take place in Balkans areas including
Silicy, Kosovo, Caucus, and the Corsica region.
How does the process operate?
The well-developed practice of blood feuds is traceable to the ancient Afghan culture.
Blood feuds are conflicts between opponent tribes, families, and armed factions. These feuds
occur in response to felt violations to the honor of property rights women, water, or land issues.
As per the practice, people, related to the tribe or family of the wrongdoer, are the main targets
of the victim’s family or tribe members (UNHCR, 2010).
People who practice blood feuds seek revenge by physical injury, killing, or publicly
shaming the individuals or perpetrators associated to the tribe or family of the offender. These
practices can run for a long time from generations to generations, with retaliatory violence cycle
between opposing groups. Settling a dispute by an official justice system does not always stop a
blood feud. Pashtuns may settle blood feuds through official jirga decision, which is a male
dominated community based conflict resolution system. At times, a peaceful compromise like
bad dadab marriage can prevent a dispute from developing into a blood feud (UNHCR, 2010).
As per the UNHCR (2010), people involved in or aimed at, due to a blood feud can,
relying on situations of individual case, be in danger based on membership of a certain social
group. Nonetheless, allegations by people with aforementioned features can cause the need to
analyze potential elimination from the status of refugees.
Does it have any relevance to modern Australia?
According to Bridie (2005), blood feuds are a grave problem in Pakistan and Albania, but
have little publicity in Australia. People view it a male equivalent to honor killing. Blood feuds
are permanent conflicts that exist between men of contrasting families. They start when people
perceive that one man is causing crime to another. As a result, the wronged man attempts to
regain his honor through spilling blood of the men of the opponent’s family. People who practice
blood feuds believe that restoration of honor is only achievable through spilling blood of the
members of the conflicting family. These individuals also believe that through killing another
person, a dishonored man can restore his honor, and his community or family structure.
The main feasible target of a blood feud is the offender, as well as his male relations
because any man’s blood from the conflicting family counts towards the reinstatement of the
offended man’s honor. This is despite the man’s status in his community or family, or the
intimacy of the connection between him and the offender. In fact, the main objective of such a
blood feud is not vengeance, but satisfaction of what people sees as justice. It also serves to
prevent the opponent family from attaining victory in consequent revenge.
From the Australian perspective, this is a hard concept to understand. This is because
blood feuds concern the significance of honor, and honor assumes a more serious sense in certain
parts of the globe than people might give it. A man’s family and personal honor is vital to his
dignity, integrity, reputation, and pride. The society takes these elements very critically. In
addition, people believing in blood feuds base them on past mistakes, rather than on future
solutions. While some people consider wars to be an incident that ends, blood feuds, on the other
hand, are unending. This is because those people involved in it find it hard to be content (Bridie,
Objectives of blood feuds
People who practice blood feuds have certain objectives. To start with, in Albania, people
practice blood feuds in order to restore personal, family, or community honor taken by the
offender. Secondly, those who believe in blood feuds practice it in order to revenge the
wrongdoer who commits an offence to them. Thirdly, believers of blood feuds practice as a way
of seeking justice for an offence committed against them by the opposing group. Therefore, they
decide to kill, publicly shame, or cause physical injury to the offending team. Fourthly, people
believing in blood feuds practice it in order to avoid trafficking of people from their family,
community, or tribe. Besides, people like in Pakistan practice blood feud in order to seek justice
for accidental killing of the family, tribe, or community members (Immigration and Refugee
Board of Canada, 2008).
In addition, some people engage in blood feuds in order to settle issues regarding
property conflicts, such as, land or water disputes. Another objective for blood feuds in places
like Pakistan and Albania is to prevent or avenge an offence relating to disrespecting a woman.
They engage in a blood feud in order to take revenge on the offender, or on his family,
community, or tribe. What is more, people practice blood feud with an intention of settling an
issue regarding a person who lies to another or to a group. This normally takes place to the
offender himself, his family, or tribe. The offended group normally avenges the offence against
them through public shaming, physical injury, or killing of the wrongdoer (Immigration and
Refugee Board of Canada, 2008).
Benefits and merits
There are many benefits or merits of engaging in blood feuds by some communities or
individuals. First, blood feuds help in preventing unnecessary violation of people’s rights by
other people. For instance, blood feuds are beneficial in protecting women against violations by
irresponsible men in a given society. Second, engaging in blood feuds helps a community,
family, or a tribe to coexist peacefully by preventing future attempts of offences or violations.
This is because the practice serves as a warning to the rest on criminal activities against other
members of the society (Bridie, 2005).
Third, practicing blood feuds by some communities is helpful in the development of a
feeling of justice to some injustice caused by another group of people. By killing or physical
injury to an offender or the offender’s family gives the offended party a sense of justice. Fourth,
blood feuds make the offended group feel satisfied by the pain caused to their offender. This
implies that revenging their offenders for wrong deeds is important in making the offended party
satisfied. Lastly, engaging in blood feuds is crucial to the offended party as they reclaim the lost
honor through revenge. These people believe that revenging their wrongdoers help in eliminating
dishonor caused by the offender, and in turn, restoring the honor to their families, communities,
or tribes (UNHCR, 2010).
Blood feud is a traditional practice that is traceable to the Pakistan and Albanian
communities. From the legal perspective, people who practice it view it as a way of seeking
justice for offences committed against them. These people conduct blood feuds by publicly
shaming the offender, killing him, or causing physical injury to the offending party, which could
be the offender himself, his tribe, community, or family. Some of the objectives and benefits of
conducting blood feuds including seeking justice, restoring honor, avenging the offender,
warning against future offences, as well as protecting the community, family, or individuals
against any form of violations. Some governments and authorities are trying to stop the practice.
In the modern Australia, the practice is no longer relevant, as compared to other countries like
Albania and Pakistan.
Bridie (2005). Blood feuds, Act Now. com. au. Retrieved on July 31, 2012 from
Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (2008). Issue Paper Albania Blood feuds. Issue
Papers, Extended Responses and Country Fact Sheets. Pp. 1-25
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, UNHCR. (2010). UNHCR Eligibility
Guidelines for Assessing the International Protection Needs of Asylum-Seekers from
Afghanistan. Pp. 1-46. http://www.unhcr.org/refworld/pdfid/4d0b55c92.pdf