A television documentary from the UK sheds new light on the phenomenon of honor killing — which has now “reached record levels.” Failure to confront the Islamic justifications for this practice, which are nowhere mentioned in this story, will only ensure that it continues, both in the Islamic world and the West.
Unreported World travels to Turkey to investigate honour killings, which have now reached record levels with more than 200 girls and women killed in the past year alone. The programme highlights a chilling new development in which a new law outlawing honour killings may have led to a huge increase in girls being forced to commit suicide instead.
Reporter Ramita Navai and Producer Matt Haan begin their journey in the south east of Turkey, an ethnically Kurdish region. They’ve been invited to a traditional Kurdish wedding between two 18-year-old-cousins, arranged by their families. One guest tells Navai that Kurds have their own marriage traditions, and that marriage changes the way a woman behaves.
The team moves on to Karacada, an area renowned for its blood feuds, where there have been several honour killings over the last year. One local tells Navai that a woman can dishonour her family by standing too close to a man she is not related to and that some women aren’t allowed mobile phones in case they receive a call from a man.
He says women can be killed for violating the rules of honour. When a woman is accused of dishonour, a family council will decide her fate. He says that honour killings are really effective in sending out a strong message to everybody. Local women tell Unreported World that they live in constant fear and that their brothers would beat them over mere rumours.
The team meets Husna, who is willing to talk openly about an honour killing that happened less than five weeks previously. She says she suspects her niece’s new husband was unable to consummate the marriage and killed her to spare his honour. She claims that these killings are common and three have happened in the area recently.
Moving on to a village close to the Iranian border, the team hears about Nazime Alir, who was 21 years old when she was murdered. Her father-in-law tells Navai that his son gouged out her eyes, cut her tongue off and put her remains in a plastic bag before burning her. Nearly all the men in the village say they would kill their wives and daughters for honour – life without honour is not worth living.
Until recently, under Turkish law honour killers could get a reduced sentence by claiming provocation. However, four years ago, as part of Turkey’s campaign to join the European Union, it introduced a mandatory life sentence for the crime. But the change in the law hasn’t reduced the killings. Instead, as Unreported World reveals, it appears to have given rise to a sinister new twist.
The team travels to the city of Batman, nicknamed ‘suicide city’ because in the last few years hundreds of women and girls have committed suicide. Like other areas of the country, female suicides rocketed after the change in the law. Batman’s chief prosecutor tells Unreported World that he believes many of the suicides in the town are forced, but that they’re almost impossible to investigate. Those women who escape the attempt flee into hiding.
One young woman, Elif, claims that when she was 18 years old, her parents wanted to force her into marriage. When she refused, she claims her family told her that if she didn’t marry him, she would have to kill herself. She says her father told her if he, or her brother, was forced to kill her they would go to prison so she should think of them and kill herself. She said she considered doing it because she loved her father so much, but she realized she didn’t want to die. Instead, she ran away.
Ending up in Istanbul, the team finds that even the most modernised city in Turkey hasn’t escaped the tradition. According to a government report, it now has one of the highest levels of honour killings in the country, with one happening every week. The Government has condemned the killings and launched a commission with the aim of reducing them. Yet, the Unreported World team see twelve cases in the press as the murders continue unabated.
Let them into the EU!