Namus & the Increase in Honour Killings in Britain

I read an article in The Guardian yesterday that made me impotent with anger. It details the alarming increase in Britain of honour killings, assaults and disfigurements being perpetrated on young Muslim women by their families in the name of ‘family honour’. The figures are supplied by different police precincts in Britain.

Banaz Mahmod strangled in London 2006


Stoned to death by family and friends

I recall the first instance I came across in 2007 of a young Kurdish girl, Du’a Khalil Aswad, whose stoning death at the hands of her male relatives was captured on mobile phones and found outlet in the Internet where it became viral. I was utterly horrified as were many westerners. For me it highlighted the immense, stark gulf in thinking and society between developed Western democratic life and backward Middle Eastern theocratic dictatorships. The web site Stop the Stoning informs us of how many of these murders take place.

What disgusts and continues to amaze me is that these so-called loving families allow some spurious religious and cultural dogma ruled on by some imam, kangaroo court or whatever to overturn the normal moral imperative of caring for one’s children.

To be able to turn a sense of love and care for your own offspring into the acid-throwing disfigurement, maiming, disowning and violent murder is the worst kind of cognitive dissonance that I can imagine. It isn’t just religion of course it is also culture and tradition that furthers these horrendous crimes against other humans.

It is a different mindset from that which enjoins people like Baby P’s parents to bash, break and then kill their tiny babies. That, in itself, is hideous and disturbingly on the increase.

But these honour killings have to do with a feeling of outrage perpetrated by a family on a family member – invariably female – that requires physical death meted out by that family using rocks and stones! To throw stones while watching your target start to bleed, cry and call out, hearing the skull crack and watching as death comes and the body goes limp. And the family/tribe then feels vindicated by this murder. Unbelievable.

The article linked to another article that listed 6 ‘honour killings’ that had horrified British communities.  Tulay Goren was one of them. Her body has never been found; her father is serving life for murder.

Tulay Goren, murdered 1999

I know that readers of this blog understand that I harbour no tolerance for religious faiths of any kind whatsoever and I make no apology for that. I don’t bother debating or otherwise talking to people of faith about their faith. To me they are beyond the pale: they have surrendered humanity and reason, moral and intellectual honesty, compassion and love for a distorted sense of superstitious awe. There, that having been said, I feel better, but not much.

The Guardian article traces the rise in these honour killings in Britain from 2009 and 2010 to the present. The rise in 12 police force areas is 47%. And that is only the reported cases. Mind you, it is good to see that more people are reporting though the hidden and unreported cases are possibly fourfold the reported ones.

Over a year ago I wrote a couple of blog entries about the burqa and the incidence of honour killings that come under the term namus. As an ethical concept – a virtue – namus is sick, disgusting, inhuman and inhumane. It predates the three monotheisms but is implicitly sanctioned in these Islamic communities to keep male control over the dreaded and feared females within his family.

Maybe it is because I am a modern, well educated western female of decidedly independent bent that I find this antiquated and barbaric practice so horrendous. However, I find it impossible to condone any society where such practices form such an integral normative part of that society. It is a remnant of archaic patriarchal prejudice and has no place in a global community. It is like the witchcraft craze that is seeing the deaths of so many young children in Africa.

In any case, I condemn it and cannot imagine having social interaction with anyone who adheres to the concept of namus. I would have to turn my back and walk away from such barbarism.

Amnesty International has a page where a petition to stop stoning in Iran can be signed.


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