Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Honor killings--excused murder in my book--in Turkey

Honor killings are hardly unique to Turkey, but also occur with distressing regularity in Pakistan, Jordan, Egypt, Algeria and a variety of other societies, including parts of Europe and Latin America where "protecting family honor" is used to justify the murder of women who may have done little more than to behave imprudently.

In a case that I know of in Egypt, a young women who worked as a maid for a Cairo family was given leave to visit her family during an 'eid. She took the wrong train from Cairo and ended up in a town where the next train was not until morning. A sympathetic women put her up over night, but her brothers, sure that "something" must have happened, were intent on killing (the method in this case: to be tied in a sack weighted with rocks and thrown in the Nile). Incidentally, the woman was illiterate and could not read the signs at the train station. As it happened, she was saved through the intervention of her Egyptian employers, but perhaps she only earned a reprieve.

In her recent posts on Turkey, Jenny White has periodically addressed honor killings there. As she notes about a recent case in which a woman was horribly mutilated, as well as stabbed, but still survived, what is most appalling is the role of the police. After the woman fled the threats of her husband, the police foricibly returned her to her spouse, who claimed the woman was fabricating.

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