Wednesday, July 23, 2008

America's First Honor Killing

I remember reading about America's first honor killing in the news and almost wrote an op-ed on it. I never got around to it and instead am posting here.

For those that don't follow this, an honor killing is usually perpetrated against a women by her family because she has "shamed" them, either by wearing makeup, taking off her headscarf, have a non-Muslim boyfriend, drinking, or escaping from arranged marriages. It occurs almost entirely among Turks, Kurds, Afghans, Pakistanis, and Indians of Islamic faith, although some cases have involved Arabs and other ethnicities from the Near East, as well as Christians, Sikhs, and Hindus throughout.

Most people on this continent are probably oblivious to the proliferation of honor killings in Europe--so numerous now (in the multiples of hundreds) that Scotland Yard set up the Honor Crimes Unit and EU leaders have set up a pan-European anti-Honor killing squad.

What was shocking is that the US case didn't occur in L.A., New York, the Washington area, or any of the major population centers for Central/South Asians, Arabs, Kurds, and Turks. It happened, instead, in small town Jonesboro, GA, just down the road from where I grew up.

Thinking of some prominent examples of the 5,000 (UN estimate) annual honor killings... I remember reading a story about a young 16 year old Turkish girl in Germany. She wore some makeup. Her youngest brother--perhaps 13--shot her in the face in the schoolyard. He had been ordered to by his father and older brothers. Why? Because she was living a western life and he, as a minor, would have his record wiped clean at 18.

In 2003 in Britain, a Kurdish man, Abdalla Yones, stabbed his 16 year old daughter 11 times and then slit her throat because she had a Christian boyfriend.

One Turkish-German women, Hatin Surucu, had been married off to a cousin in Turkey at 16. She escaped at 22 with her son and fled to Berlin, where she took up residence at a single mothers home. She finished school and began specialist training as an electrician. Her family tracked her down and her 3 brothers shot her as she waited for a bus in 2005.

Horrible, shocking, disgusting. I hope this archaic and inhumane practice is wiped out before more occur in our country (although the murder of two sisters in Texas is suspect). Paramount is the message that while we enjoy a multicultural open society with freedom of worship, this does not trump the secular, individual, and humans rights laws that we hold dear and which enable this country to prosper.

Update: Here is a well written op-ed by Fipp Avlon on the subject. Avlon is a big proponent of centrist independent politics and is a professor at Stanford University. He was formerly Rudy Guiliani's top speechwriter.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home