Dishonor in the Global Community

Last week a 16 year old girl from Kahta, Turkey was buried alive for allegedly talking to boys.

Stories like this have become all too common to desensitized ears. In our world, the announcement of the Apple iPad takes precedence over the millions of honor killings which take place everyday all over the world. 

The murder of a 16 year old girl by her own mother, father, and grandfather passed with barely an acknowledgment let alone a ‘tsk tsk’ from the international community – I fail to see the honor in that.

In fact women are routinely murdered by their own families for anything and everything deemed damaging to the family name: refusing a prearranged marriage, reporting a sexual assault or rape, asking for a divorce, or in the case of one 16 year old Turkish girl– talking to boys.

Depending on the culture, anything could be detrimental. In a recent interview, NYU professor Dr. Sylvia Maier defined honor killings to occur due to the “(alleged) transgressing gender roles and norms in a particular community”.

Abuse is used as a mechanism to disciple women acting in a manner that is contrary to the wishes of fathers, grandfathers, boyfriends, and other family members. In fact, the acceptance of such killings is often safeguarded by the law. Honor killings are murders targeted towards women because of their sex. This issue transcends all countries both “third world” and “developed” and all religions.

The fault is not only that of the perpetrators, but the world for hardening its ears to cries of help by these women. It is easy to isolate these events as sporadic incidences by men in backwards, undeveloped “Muslim” countries. I urge you to think again. FBI homicide statistics from 2008 show 34.7% of female murder victims were slain by boyfriends or husbands.

One has to wonder what these homicides could have had in common with honor killing? What sets these acts, defined simply as ‘homicides’ apart from the ‘honor killings’ of the backwards third world thinking? Also, remember the dangerous reaction among young men and women to the Chrianna scandal in which large numbers of them alleged Rihanna must have done something to deserve the abuse. If young men and women are willing to defend Chris Brown and reiterate that Rihanna must have done something, anything to deserve the brutal abuse one has to wonder where the line will finally be drawn? Is there anything Rihanna, or a sixteen year old girl for that matter, could do to have justified murder?

If we fail to recognize this issue as the human rights atrocities they are, we have no right to demand justice for other acts of violence. Rwanda? Darfur? Apartheid?  Slavery? Who cares it’s not my problem!

Will society choose to ignore or defend these women? It is time to realize that women’s rights ARE human rights. In a world where a publicity stunt orchestrated by Ashton Kutcher helped fund thousands of malaria nets, joining social forces to create acknowledgement and outrage is the first step towards creating meaningful change. Even if the mainstream media is to stay silent all it takes is for a Tweet, a Status Update, an IM, an Email, a Text, anything to spread the word. With so many communication methods literally at our fingertips, these atrocities can no longer fade away in quiet isolation.