Thursday, August 21, 2008

Honor Killings

by Connie Park

According to the United Nations Population Fund, approximately 5,000 women worldwide are murdered annually in what is known as honor killing. In addition, uncounted others are brutally attacked, including being burned with acid and left disfigured for life (left photo from Bangladesh).

The numbers could be much higher, as cases often go unreported. In a recent case in Saudi Arabia, for instance, a woman was sexually assaulted, yet no charges were ever filed against the suspect. Why? The woman was out past curfew.

Making these crimes even more horrific, if that's possible, is that they're most often committed by a woman's father, brother, or uncle. In such cases, a male family member decides a woman has brought "dishonor" upon the family. Some of the infractions include: refusing an arranged wedding, seeking a divorce, committing adultery, or being a victim of sexual assault.

While there are reports of honor killings occurring in many Muslim countries, several parts of Europe and Canada, increasingly they're occurring much closer to home, right here in the United States. In her article "Honor Killing: When the Ancient and Modern Collide," Cinnamon Stillwell reports that these acts transcend domestic violence and are fostered by extreme Muslim beliefs and culture.

The first time I heard of an honor killing was in January 2007, when a colleague on the Houston Police Department investigated the murder of a 21-year-old Afghani woman. The victim was killed with a sledge hammer by a family member. Investigators believed the motive was the woman's liberal Western beliefs.

Then, in Georgia, eighteen months later, on July 5th, 2008, Chaudhry Sadid killed his 19-year-old daughter, Sandeed Kawal, strangling her with a bungee chord. What had Sandeed done to deserve such a horrible fate at the hands of her own father? The young woman wanted to divorce her husband.

Just this past January in Lewisville, Texas, two teenage girls, 17-year-old Sarah Yaser and 19-year-old Amina Yaser Said (left) were shot and killed by their father, Yaser Abdel Said. Their death-penalty worthy offenses? The girls wore Western clothes and dated. Sarah's and Amina's bodies were found in their father's taxi cab. After being charged with capital murder, Yaser Abdel Said disappeared. It's believe he fled the country.

There are those who argue that these incidences are not honor killings but individual family circumstances. Mainstream Muslims state the Qur'an does not condone honor killings, however perpetrators of such violence often quote the following verse from that Muslim Holy Book (4:34) in their defense:

Men are the maintainers of women because Allah has made some of them to excel others and because they spend out of their property; the good women are therefore obedient, guarding the unseen as Allah has guarded; and [as to] those on whose part you fear desertion, admonish them, and leave them alone in the sleeping-places and beat them; then if they obey you, do not seek a way against them; surely Allah is High, Great.


Anonymous said...

The men who do these terrible things are disgusting animals. The problem is that the Muslim culture condones these heinous actions, not punishing them. It's time people stopped looking the other way.

Leah said...

There are many crimes that muslims don't punish men for. We can only hope that one day these countries will become civilized and socialized.

KarenO said...

Great Post! It's a subject that needs to be addressed, here in America, before Shariah law gets a foothold in our legal system. Why do we pander to Islam like we do? We should look at Europe and see that no good can come of it!!