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Honor is a treacherous term, full of ambiguity and difficult to translate from one language into another. Nevertheless, one can point to certain problems of honor that afflict legal systems worldwide. Those problems can be usefully broken down into three classes: problems of sexual honor, problems of personal honor, and problems of hierarchical honor. All three involve honor in similar ways: Persons who feel their honor has been attacked commonly feel that they have been degraded or treated as inferior.

There are certain recurrent issues in the treatment of honor by the law. First, honor is regularly associated with violence. Persons who feel that their honor has been attacked frequently lash out violently; the sense of honor and the propensity for violence are closely linked among ...

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