Friday, 29 August 2008

Violence in the name of honour.

In the same week as I read about the special day being launched by the Groupe International de Paroles de Femmes, I have come across a Canadian site about honour killing. The GIPF day is about sexual exploitation and it seems to me that honour killing represents another face of the phenomenon, if indirectly. Many of the victims are very young women who have been forced into marriage at a very young age, with much older men: some are sold by their families; some are handed over by their families as payment for a debt; some are simply fobbed off to the first available man to ease the family's burden of a person who is possibly just going to cost them money but not make any. If handing a pre-teen girl over to a 60 year-old male is not sexual exploitation, then I don't know what is a better definition.

On July 2nd, it was Banaz Bakir Fatah, of Iraqi origin, who was killed in Norway. At the beginning of August, we learned that a new honour murder had taken place in Jordan, following another honour crime in July, or we could also talk about young Ahmet Yildiz, executed by his family because he was homosexual. In Pakistan, we learned recently that last month, five women were buried alive, the guilty, one of them the brother of a MInister for the province of Baloutchistan, have still not been bothered by the police or the judiciary, so we are joining the campaign by the Asian Commission for Human Rights in requesting the authorities to take the necessary steps to investigate these murders and to punish the guilty parties.

In Jordan, the law still supports these murders committed, "in the name of family honour." And if Turkey has recently criminalised these murders of women, a report shows that it remains not only frequent, but it's in resurgence. Same thing in Kurdistan, where we learn that at the beginning of July eleven women were killed or committed suicide by setting themselves on fire in a single week in the town of Erbil. The murder of Kurdistan Aziz has demonstrated the inability and the lack of willingness of the authorities of the autonomous Kurdish region to offer a minimum of protection to women threatened by their families, which makes necessary the campaign we are leading against the murder and stoning of women in Kurdistan. And all the more so since we also learn that the murderers of Doa Khalil Aswad, publicly stoned on April 7th, risk escaping any prison sentence (See Le prix du sang*)

* Le prix du sang

In Iran, if honour murders exist, it is equally the apparatus of the state that seeks to control women's bodies and their sexuality. Thus, in July, nine people (at least) were sentenced to stoning, one of them Kobra Najjar. According to the information we have received from Iran at the beginning of August, these stonings would be suspended, but the death sentence by stoning continues to figure in the criminal code of the Mullah's régime.

Other forms of oppression in the name of honour.

The, "Oppression for family honour," system does not limit itself to murder, which is just the visible part of a social, tribal and patriarchal organisation where women are denied their fundamental human rights. One form this oppression takes is forced marriage. In Yemen, two little girls of 8 and 9 were able to celebrate...their divorces, taking us to the example of Nojoud, a young girl of 10 years who struggled to get a divorce. In Saudi Arabia, the staff at a hospital in the province of Hail, went into action to prevent the marriage of a little girl of 10 years with a man of 60 years. In Pakistan, it is the jirgas (tribal courts) which offer little girls in marraige to settle clan quarrels. It is also the tribal courts that sentence to death those who decide to marry freely, like Mohammad Ibrahim and Zainab

Unfortunately, forced marriages are not just a barbarity that exists in the Midle East or in the Indian Sub-Continent. In France, as elsewhere in Europe, summer is the favoured season for forced marriages. At the beginning of July in North Italy, "Piccola," aged 15, attempted suicide to avoid being married to a man she did not love. On this subject we can read the witness statement of Hamina Ben Sadia married by force at 16 years, or of Justine who ran away from her family to escape marriage.We have published some legal information and useful contacts for young French women who may be threatened with forced marriage. It is to be noted that recently, on the subject of forced marriage, the press has tended tp applaud the initiative set up by SPIOR (Islamic Organisation of Rotterdam) with the support of Tariq Ramadan. However in a press release by women's organisations in France, fighting against forced marriages, we read with interest the analysis by Necia Kelek, a militant of Turkish origin against forced marriages in Germany, on the ambiguity and hypocrisy of that campaign organised by reactionary groups close to the Muslim brotherhood.

If our site only lists a few of the atrocities and forms of oppression suffered by women, "In the name of honour," (you can have a brief outline of what this oppression means by reading, if you haven't already done so, Totalitarianism against women. Repercussions of crimes and the, "family honour," system on the living conditions of women in the Middle East,) we can also announce some progress thanks to the courageous struggles going on around the world.

Thus, the campaign against circumcision in Kurdistan records some success and female sexual mutilation should finally be banned in September.And even if we haven't obtained the abolition of stoning in Iran, the suspension of stoning sentences is also a small success for the mobilisation of organisations defending the rights of women, defenders of human rights and other progressives. These facts show that, even it may seem like very little, participating in various campaigns which we suggest or we are supporting, may let us little by little crack the oppression and work towards more equality.

Finally, to publicise our struggle against murder and oppression, "in the name of family honour," we offer stickers that can be downloaded in PDF format and printed (each sheet is set up in A4 and each sticker measures 105 x 148.5mm) For now, we have them in Arabic, German, English, Spanish, French, Italian, Kurd (Sorani) and Russian. You can find them here.
We will gradually add more translations and if you can help us by translating into other languages, your suggestions will be very welcome on our forum

The above is translated from the Sisyphe site, and the information originates entirely from:

International Campaign Against Honour Killing.


Joanne said...

Just to clarify: the articles reprinted in Sysiphe originate from the International Campaign Against Honour Killings. You can find us at, and subscribe to the French mailing list (which is where Sysiphe gets these articles) by sending an email to

AnnaEsse said...


Thank you for your comment. I shall make that clear in my post.