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.

Enfants Kidnappés 29/08/08: Fiona Payne's statement 4/05/07

Enfants Kidnappés


Before publishing Fiona Payne's statements, it seemed interesting to us to digress a little. Following lots of questions received by e-mail, we are going to try to reply to some of them. First of all, you should bear in mind that I wasn't there during the interviews and that there is nothing in the written report that clarifies how certain questions were formulated or what those questions were.

Except occasionally where it says: "Following our question the interviewee says....." However, typical interviews like these - let's not forget that they are interviews in the context of the disappearance of a child - are often done within the same framework. The inspectors have to pose various, "open," questions to the interviewee. These questions were probably the following (This is speculation, but based on extensive experience, it is highly likely that this speculation is accurate):

  • How long have you been in Portugal and how did you get here?
  • For how long have you known the child's parents?
  • How has the holiday been going?
  • How did the day of May 3rd develop?
  • How did the evening of May 3rd develop?
  • What was the attitude of the parents towards their children and particularly with the missing girl?
  • Did you notice anything unusual?
  • What is Madeleine like? (Personality traits)
  • Was she ill? Was she taking any medication?
It is logical to imagine that this was the framework on which the PJ based these interviews. The open question technique is the only valid one in an interview. An example being worth more than a thousand words, here is an example of a closed question: "Was the suspect's car green?" That is a closed question, not allowed during an interview because it influences the witness in their response. By contrast, the following open question: "What colour was the suspect's car?" is totally admissible because the witness is not influenced by it.

Going back to Fiona's interview, it was recorded on May 4th 2007 at 7.20pm by an inspector from the 4th DIC brigade.

On the subject in hand we note that:

The interviewee was heard as a witness belonging to the group who came to Portugal with the young child Madeleine. She (editor's note: Fiona) is married to David who is also on the trip. She has known the child's parents for around seven years. She met Kate while they were working together and she was already a friend when she met her future husband, David. The McCann couple have three children, twins aged two and Madeleine nearly four years. The interviewee has two children, who are respectively 1 and 2 years old. The idea to come to Portugal came from her husband, David, who had already been to Portugal eleven years before.

They arrived in Portugal on April 28th at around 12 noon, coming from Leicestershire via Faro and finally to Praia da Luz. From Faro to the Ocean Club, they traveled in an airport mini-bus. After checking in, they were placed in apartment G5H with her whole family (Husband, mother and two children).

The routines.

Concerning what they usually do, the interviewee says that in the morning, after breakfast, which they have as a family in the bar at a club at around 8.15/8.30, they place their children in one of the complex's crèches, in different sections. In the afternoon, their children take a nap, while she and her husband stay in the apartment. At around 3.30/4pm, the nap over, they all go to the swimming pool or to the tennis courts where the interviewee stays with her children and her husband until 6/7pm. Then, they go back to the apartment, bathe the children, put them to bed and go to join the rest of the group for the adults' dinner, at the "Tapas," restaurant situated near the club.


During dinner, the interviewee and her husband never went to their apartment to check that the children were ok because they would have heard the slightest noise, or any crying in the bedroom thanks to a, "Baby Monitoring," type intercom. Yesterday, the usual routine was slightly changed. Yesterday, she went to the beach with her children, her husband and her mother, Diane. They arrived there at around 3.45pm and came back around 6.15pm to go to the tennis courts where they stayed until 7pm. Then the interviewee went to her apartment with her children and her mother. In the apartment, her mother, helped by her husband, gave the children a bath while the interviewee went jogging on the beach until 8pm. Then she returned to the apartment and did a few household chores and went out at around 8.45pm, accompanied by her mother and her husband to go to the "Tapas," restaurant to join the rest of the group. TheMcCann couple were amongst the members of the group at dinner.

The interviewee states that Kate and Gerry, as well as other couples, went to the club a few times, at regular intervals, to make sure the children were ok. During one of these checks, Kate came back frightened and very jumpy, panicked even, and she announced that Madeleine had disappeared.

Search groups were immediately organised, in the apartment, thinking that she could be hiding there, then outside, without success, even with the help of employees. Then given Kate's state of anxiety, the interviewee decided to stay with her to lend her support.

The interviewee has never been in Madeleine's family's apartment.

Knowing Madeleine well, the interviewee describes her as very intelligent, and totally incapable of going with a stranger without screaming or protesting strongly unless she was very tired or asleep.

Concerning what Jane said, the latter only said she saw a person with a child in his arms but she didn't know if it was Madeleine.

During the holiday, the interviewee noticed nothing unusual. She has nothing else to add.

After reading, together with the interpreter, who explains the contents to her, she goes on and signs the deed.

Enfants Kidnappés

Comment: I don't understand why anyone would want to go to the trouble of air travel, and what that entails, and long journeys with small children, to go to a country like Portugal, and then hardly set foot outside a holiday complex. I'm sure there must be similar holiday complexes in the UK, if what they want to do is dump the kids in a crèche then play various sports. They might as well be anywhere!

When I travel...well, actually, I have never been on a package holiday...I like to explore the place or the country I am in. That's why my family would be booking a cottage, a villa, or an apartment, giving the freedom to be out and about, seeing the scenery, visiting places of interest, even just visiting different beaches and exploring that coastal town.

Who wants to travel to an obviously beautiful country like Portugal and not explore the country a little? And in Portugal, drink New Zealand wine? Why? Why not try the produce of the local vineyards? That's what I do on holiday abroad.

The McCanns and their friends are an obviously intelligent bunch of people, but they display Butlin's behaviour! They travel to Portugal, play tennis on the club's courts, jog on the beach, eat regularly at the club's restaurant and don't get out there to see what the country has to offer? They should've gone to Butlin's!!!