Yes, we live in the patriarchy. And yes, this will impact our education, careers and everyday lives in way are another. However, there is something that is even more horrifying than this. This is the injustice that has become a reality for so many: so-called “honour killings.”
Not too long ago, a father in Jordan was arrested for the ‘honour’ killing of his daughter. After murdering her, he sat beside her corpse, smoked a cigarette, sipping a cup of tea – boasting at the crime he’d just committed.
For those fortunate enough to not be familiar with what an honour killing is, let me explain.
The word honour is found in just about every culture. Depending on your cultural background, it can mean different things to different people. In Asian, Arab, African, and even Christian purity cultures, honour is usually reliant on a woman’s actions. She can destroy a family’s reputation (honour) if she does anything that would bring shame to her family.
If a woman was seen to have committed a deed that would bring shame on her family or tarnish of their reputation, she will be threatened with death or exile. This doesn’t usually apple to men – only rare cases.
Women continue to fall victims to honour killings to this very day. This is because it is believed – by these families – that killing the woman, with her troublesome behaviour, will bring honour back to the family.
Ahlams story – what we know:
One of the most recent honour killings happened in Amman, Jordan. Her name was Ahlam. Her crime? Unknown.
Her neighbours heard her screaming for help as she was running out of her house. She had blood dripping down her face. Behind her was her father, chasing her with a brick. He hit her over the head with said brick repeatedly until she died.
The neighbours had called the police after hearing screams. By the time they had arrived, it was too late – Ahlam was dead. She plead to her mother to interfere, but just like most cases, her mother remained silent.
Earlier in the week, the police were notified about domestic violence taking place in their house, but nothing was done. Authorities rarely intervene in issues regarding the family, particularly in domestic violence. This is because in many parts of the world – including the UK and USA – domestic violence remains a stigmatized and taboo subject.
When we hear about cases like these, we often wonder how many women are out there suffering at the hands of the very people who are supposed to protect them?
Secretary- General of the Jordanian National Commission for Women, Dr. Salma Nims, said “The entire system in Jordan is flawed. What we need is to work on improving the whole system from legislation to social attitude. The role of the government is to provide women with protection and the ability to move on. Women can stay in safe houses for three months, then they are told to find a place to stay, which is when some are forced to go back to the violence. It is the government’s job to empower these women and help them become independent.”
Remember, this is culture. Not God.
Regrettably, like most things, those with power to enforce change, simply do not. It is these very people who will try and silence those who oppose them. we must however, prevail. Women have rights.
Our schooling and our intellect will be no use if our do not stand with our sisters. You do not have to be from these cultures to care. Care because you’re human. Unknown to many, Islam encourages women’s rights, and their rights are equal to men. It is culture, not God, that oppresses women.
Let’s empower ourselves and put a stop to these killings once and for all by keeping the conversation open and making our women feel safe.
For help and further information visit karmanirvana.org.uk a brilliant charity offering assistance to victims of honour based abuse and forced marriage.
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