Feminism | Posted by Helen H on 11/16/2009

Honor Killings

protesters against honor killings

protesters against honor killings

I told Julie I was meaning to write about this ever since I submitted my first post here, but I’ve been delaying it.

However, my friend Elena just sent me this article from a Jordanian magazine, “Jo”, and I thought it was about time for a little rant (or a big one). Official statistics are scant, but the chilling fact is that brothers and fathers and relatives are killing their sisters and mothers on a notion that the women are tainting the family honor, they are being treated sympathetically by courts, and bragging about their noble actions. The thought sickens me, but the bleak reality remains.

Here’s the link to the article, if you’d like to have a read.

So, the article begins with establishing the problem. Women are being killed in the name of “honor”. This so-called honor is determined using a terribly unreliable method (checking for blood after penetration). And the worst part is, it’s considered normal.

At that point I was thinking, “Cool. This article is pretty good.”

Of course, they have to screw up somehow, right? Here’s part of the last paragraph:

“We can be conservative and teach our daughters how to preserve themselves… We should make them decide by free will to take the safe path… that’s the only guaranteed way to make it happen. Otherwise we’ll be wasting our time, trying to show that we’re the kings of the jungle and fooling ourselves into thinking everything is OK, while in reality we might be losing control.”

Preserve ourselves? Take the “safe” path? Bullshit.

I understand this standard of safety and preservation probably comes from a religious perspective, but, really, this isn’t taking us anywhere. It’s like saying, “We think the girl should be a virgin on her wedding night. We’re not going to kill her for it, though.”

I’ll admit, taking the killing part out of honor killing is an improvement, but the idea is still there. The idea that the “safe” path is the sex-free one, that virginity equals preservation, and that relationships taint a woman and maim her entire family’s fucking honor.

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  • Alex F @ at 6:24 pm, November 16th, 2009


  • kanadra @ at 1:22 am, November 17th, 2009

    I’ve never really heard much about honor killings. That article was shocking and apalling. Especially the fact that it was written in such an… Accepting? Tone. Like this is the way it is, don’t expect it to get better. I kept expecting the writer to twist something and burst into sarcasm at the realism of how wrong it was to treat a woman like cattle… But it just wasn’t there.
    I do like the line about free will, though. Not that there is a “safe” or “right” path to take… But that the writer seemed willing to admit that women have a choice about it. At least they/we have that much.

  • B. @ at 12:36 pm, November 17th, 2009

    “MAKE them decide by free will to take the safe path”
    Wait, what?(If someone MAKES you decide something, how is it free will?)
    Sounds like brainwashing to me xx

  • Toongrrl @ at 12:52 pm, November 17th, 2009

    Girlfriends be glad we live here. I hope things get better for our sisters in places like Jordan and Turkey.

  • Helen H. @ at 1:37 pm, November 17th, 2009

    Toongrrl, I live in Jordan, and what depresses me as how these things are so terribly under-reported.

    Yes, I come from a well-to-do family and I’m probably not at risk of being killed for honor (who knows, though?), but there is so much we Jordanians ourselves don’t know about. I mean, it’s a tiny country, but they manage to hide things so well. I am always afraid of becoming too engrossed in my own situation and relative safety that I just forget about the women who are probably living just outside my city and have to face things like this all the time.

  • Jordanian @ at 2:59 pm, December 3rd, 2009

    You have totally misunderstood the author’s intentions here; you have actually undermined his argument. He was denouncing violence against women and the double standard that exists in our country. Instead, of focusing on that, you have decided to take his words out of context and made a presumption that he is subtly advocating these kinds of actions. He was simply saying in the last paragraph that if society wants to preach abstinence, there is more productive and less violent ways to do so. In the same way that the looney Christian Right in the US preaches for abstinence; through family values workshops etc.

    I am a liberal myself and believe that everyone, women and men, should have the right to live their lives as they see fit. But I have no right to dictate my values to others. Your views are endemic of a pretentious model of thinking that assumes Western values are somehow superior to other. You would have more credibility if you did not come from a country that chooses to force these values through the barrel of a gun while supporting the most oppressive, anti-feminist regimes in the World(Saudi Arabia, the Kharazi Government in Afghanistan among this exclusive list of progressives.)Consider looking in your backyard before judging others.

  • Helen H. @ at 11:13 am, February 2nd, 2010

    Thanks, Jordanian, for your comment.

    But I think you’ve misunderstood my intentions, as well.

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