November 21, 2009

In the Criminal Justice System…

Posted in Uncategorized at 5:49 pm by Superintendent

And I thought it was horrendous that abortions were neglected from a “new” health care system, that women’s issues were still not considered “mainstream” and viable enough in this sexist society. Then again, women (“women” including girls who should be playing hopscotch) around the world have a lot more to consider than if their government supports them; take for example women in Turkey, or in other countries where the practice of “honor killing” is still found. Breaking the rules, or social norms, does not simply result in a mere whipping (whipping, mere? psht) but sometimes in death.

Imagine you start to like a boy. Imagine he’s not acceptable/it’s not acceptable for you to be acting as your own agent. Now imagine that simply following your own intuition leads to your death, and not by the police or such, but by your father, uncle, or brother. They kill you to preserve the family’s “honor”. The fact there now is a murderer living freely with them does not dishonor their name, but the fact you dared to have a crush, wear a skirt, etc. was so shameful that the only remedy was  your death.

The one thing I cannot wrap my mind around at all is how does the notion of an “honor killing” exist within Islam? How are such murders justified by the Qur’an? How does one kill one’s own sister, someone you have grown up with and are supossed to love? Do these male murderers ever feel guilt or remorse? How is the “honor” of the family more important than the lives of the individuals that make up that family? And where do men feel they have the right to critique women’s “dishonorable” actions, whereas their actions are never met with death at the hands of another family member? What happens if the brother of a family defies the norm? Is he murdered to preserve the honor?

Perhaps most shocking and abhorrant part of the “honor killings” is how family members are circumventing legal restrictions on such murders to achieve the same goal. “Honor killings” being outlawed, “honor suicides” are now being pushed onto young girls; it is a system of peer pressure suicide that is leading young girls to attempt to take their own lives (sometimes succeeding, sometimes not) to restore the family honor. Even rape victims are pressured to kill themselves for this reason; they are not seen as victims of a misogynistic crime, but perpetrators of betrayal of their families. Absolutely absurd. Are women really so devalued in such countries as Turkey that any display of personal autonomy, or worse crimes committed against them, ruin the entire honor of the family? Are “disgraceful” women really viewed as parasitic viruses? Merely bodies to be used for reproduction?

“Families of disgraced girls are choosing between sacrificing a son to a life in prison by designating him to kill his sister or forcing their daughters to kill themselves,” said Yilmaz Akinci, who works for a rural development group. “Rather than losing two children, most opt for the latter option.”

There is an episode of Law and Order: SVU (another addiction of mine) that deals with the issue of honor killings… yadda yadda yadda daughter of diplomat from so-and-so falls in love with Jewish man, yadda yadda is burned alive by the brother who is protected under diplomatic immunity, yadda yadda yadda Stabler and Benson to the rescue. But the story does follow the obstinance of the father and brother that she brought this upon herself and somewhat deserved her death. Her mother however cries out at one point that this was her daughter, how could they do this?

Where are the mothers in these cases? Are they duped by the males in the family to believe these are necessary deaths? Are they unable to voice their opinions even if they oppose these? Can they even show emotion when their daughters die?

Women’s groups here [in Turkey] say the evidence suggests that a growing number of girls considered to be dishonored are being locked in a room for days with rat poison, a pistol or a rope, and told by their families that the only thing resting between their disgrace and redemption is death.

What’s interesting is that in Turkey, where “honor killings” are practiced (and feared by women), the government is gearing up for entrance and acceptance into the European Union. Such as we discussed in class, Turkey has a long way to go until they potentially might be accepted, but more important is the question of how much do we care? If “honor killings” are almost completely replaced by “honor suicides”, is this assurance enough? Is this legal loophole good enough for the EU to look the other way? Technically, it can be argued suicides are not the fault of the family and are of the girl’s own choice. But take the following into consideration:

For Derya, a waiflike girl of 17, the order to kill herself came from an uncle and was delivered in a text message to her cellphone. “You have blackened our name,” it read. “Kill yourself and clean our shame or we will kill you first.”

Derya said her crime was to fall for a boy she had met at school last spring. She knew the risks: her aunt had been killed by her grandfather for seeing a boy. But after being cloistered and veiled for most of her life, she said, she felt free for the first time and wanted to express her independence.

When news of the love affair spread to her family, she said, her mother warned her that her father would kill her. But she refused to listen. Then came the threatening text messages, sent by her brothers and uncles, sometimes 15 a day. Derya said they were the equivalent of a death sentence.

Consumed by shame and fearing for her life, she said, she decided to carry out her family’s wishes. First, she said, she jumped into the Tigris River, but she survived. Next she tried hanging herself, but an uncle cut her down. Then she slashed her wrists with a kitchen knife.


How can anyone look the other way while young girls, some too young to legally drink in America, are pressured by authority figures in their own families, their fathers and brothers who are supossed to look out for them and take care of them, to end their own lives? Is anything really worth that? Where does Muhammad say that this is what Allah requires? – Islamist Watch takes on this question, attempting to find an answer to the question of whether honor killings are the result of Islam alone. The article suggests that this is not necessarily so, as some Islamic communities have no occurances of honor killings. It also cites that there have been examples of honor killings, or the equivalent of, in other centuries and other religions, stating:

these killings are often done in the name of Allah and compared them to honor killings in the last century in Italy, which were carried out by Catholics. She notes that these killings are often done with the name of “Allah dripping from their lips.”…       By bringing in Catholic honor killings a century ago, Manji throws in the “you too” defense — the “you” being the West — and implies that such murders will fall out of favor as societies modernize and become more secular.

But is that enough? Is it enough to sit back and wait (and hope)? Isn’t that the equivalent of turning a blind eye to child labor in other countries because the United States did not formulate child labor laws until the 1930s? We can’t sit by and wait, we need to act out and stop this practice. But the question comes back to how much women are valued in our world? Will our country make it a priority to stop this in other communities? Or are we more concerned over oil and money than human rights? Only time will tell…

Check out: (A Muslim’s POV on honor killings)

and also this post:


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