Monday, 30 March 2009

What's worse than an honour killing?

This is:
When Elif's father told her she had to kill herself in order to spare him from a prison sentence for her murder, she considered it long and hard.
Elif had declined an arranged mariage because she wanted to continue her education. Her loving family sentenced her to death for this imagined crime. This story is common enough: according to the article, government figures report more than 200 honour killings in Turkey, accounting for fully half the number of murders. What makes this worse is the fact that Elif's father wasn't even prepared to accept the consequences of his actions.

Fortunately, Elif escaped murder, but has been on the run ever since, pursued by her family. The article reports that one of the shelters she stayed at was raided by armed family members. It also reports that such forced suicides are common and on the rise.
...women who are told to kill themselves are usually given one of three options – a noose, a gun or rat poison. They are then locked in a room until the job is done.
It's difficult to see how this constitutes suicide rather than murder in all but the letter of the law. The use of the technicality both depersonalises the act and protects the perpetrators in a society lenient on honour killings.

This kind of coercion is entirely despicable, but it gets worse. The article also discusses the case of 17 year old Mehmet. A family council decided that his stepmother and her lover should die and that Mehmet - as the youngest member of the family - should kill them, since his punishment would probably be more lenient. He refused and ran away, but was caught by the family and threatened until he finally did turn the gun on his stepmother and her boyfriend, killing the latter.

Mehmet was jailed for two and a half years. He said that there were many other honour killers in prison and they were treated by respect by other prisoners and by the prison guards.

Some people will argue that this is not the fault of religion, but of society. How they can make such a claim is beyond me, however. The rules determining what constitutes a breech of honour are religious. The societal systems that enforce and perpetuate them are religious. The punishments to be expected if the rules are broken are religious. The attitude of women and children being property stems from religion.

That religion can inspire someone to kill another for imagined breech of insane rules is hardly a surprise. That they can believe afterwards that they acted correctly is beyond question but starting to stretch belief.

That someone could torture another into killing either themselves or someone else solely to save themselves the inconvenience of a prison sentence is so far beyond my experience as a human being that the steps from here to there are almost impossible to imagine.

What else but religion could screw up an otherwise sane person in this way and even encourage him to screw up his offspring as well?

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