“Whoever kills a believer intentionally – his recompense is Hell, wherein he will abide eternally, and Allah has become angry with him and has cursed him and has prepared for him a great punishment.” [Quran; 4:93]
1. the unlawful premeditated killing of one human being by another.
So I don’t know about anywhere else in the world, but over here, people are finally getting a glimpse into honour based violence/murder, thanks to a show called Murdered by my Father, which you can watch on BBC iPlayer here. I don’t remember the last time I was so thankful for a drama, and this has opened a lot of eyes to the disgusting traditions that a lot of women are subject to. Too many people are oblivious to this horrible crime performed in the name of culture, reputation or warped religious interpretations. Imagine a woman is KILLED for having sex before marriage? Tortured for having a boyfriend? Beaten for wanting permission to marry someone she chooses, rather than someone she despises? MURDERED BY HER FAMILY FOR BEING A VICTIM OF RAPE BECAUSE IT BRINGS SHAME ON THE FUCKING FAMILY? For the average woman in the UK, such a thing is unthinkable and doesn’t sound real.
This is NOT just limited to Muslim families. It is VERY widespread and happens all over the world, to people of different religions. At best, this is in the form is disownment. At worst, it’s murder.
Reputation, reputation, reputation.
Nothing is worse to an Asian mother than her family being the subject of whispers amongst aunties. Her daughter being the one that others use as an example for theirs not to be. Asian parents will constantly tell their children not to turn out like so-and-so’s kids, “look what his daughters are up to“, “she has no shame, walking out like that” “someone said they saw her with a boy! If I ever catch you doing that….“. So many mothers will let their sons do whatever they wish, and say it’s worse for an Asian girl to do it, so many Muslim mothers will say that she must stay away from alcohol and boyfriends. Which is true, of course, but she won’t say the same thing to her sons who go out clubbing the night after their jummah prayers – “masha’allah, he goes to the masjid, what a good boy“. But the daughter could pray five times a day and go shisha once and she’s a slut. It’s madness. This is because, although the sons carry the family name, culture tells her that the women are the ones who determine their reputation.
Reputation is very important to those who are cultural. No religion condones murder. Religions CAN coexist peacefully if they actually followed the rules of their religion. Culture, however, often poisons the pool. Many old fashioned parents are hell bent on reputation, saving their family name, their pure-bred line, not even allowing their children to marry within their religion if the suitor is a different ethnicity or, god forbid, caste. Culture is beautiful but it is also the devil. Culture should be embraced insofar as it complements both humanity and your religion, not oppose it.
Doing it out of love? Or exploiting ignorance?
Women in the UK, due to education, exposure to diversity and liberation, are arguably more knowledgable and stronger than women living in Asia, particularly the poorer parts. How upsetting is it that a woman living in poverty will be killed for finding some happiness in a companion that isn’t one her family wants her to wed? Over here, we see rape as a violent unforgivable act. Over there, they see it as the woman being tarnished. Many times, then, honour violence is not even about marriage, but this is the issue I am mainly focussing on.
Most women back home will cower into an unhappy marriage, simply because she thinks it’s the norm and she must respect her family. But what happens when she fights back? They beat her, disown her, torture her. Or worse, they kill her, so she doesn’t have the existence that allows her to tarnish their name further. How ironic is it that a person can kill someone for committing a sin like premarital sex? Let me repeat, they can KILL someone for having premarital sex because it is a SIN. How can you KILL a woman for being RAPED because it is SHAMEFUL that she “HAD SEX”. How is the VICTIM more shameful than the RAPIST? This makes me so angry. Your ethnicity means NOTHING. Your race, your cultural practices mean NOTHING. It has absolutely NO TIES to your religion. None whatsoever. Your reputation means nothing, and after you die you will be reminded that you beat or murdered someone, not that your family name had power to it.
The worst part is that these families genuinely believe they are acting out of love – as exemplified by Salma’s father. A desperate bid to save his reputation turns his love into violence. These vulnerable women have two choices – live an unhappy life or be killed – but obviously a modern woman living a normal woman’s life in London has no idea that these are her options. It seems so ridiculous, in the Western world, to imagine that a woman might not just be forced to marry, but beaten or killed because she refuses. The rates of honour based violence in the UK alone are disgusting. We’re even reminded at the end of this harrowing drama that it’s all a reality, and not just fiction –
“12,000 cases of honour-based violence have been reported in the UK since 2010.
These include abductions, beatings, and an estimated 60 murders“
This is just what has been reported in the UK.
The West = freedom… right?
This backwards mentality is still prevalent amongst the grandparents and parents that migrated over here, who seem to forget that they’re no longer in a less tolerant country. They forget they were fortunate enough to bring themselves into a country with wider opportunities, and as a consequence are raising their daughters in a more liberal and self aware environment. How dare you bring yourself to a country to liberate and improve your own life, but curse your daughters with the rules from same place you tried to escape? How fucking dare you.
So where is the ‘honour’ in honour killing? Where is the ‘honour’ in murdering your own daughter, sister or wife? Why is it more dishonourable to have sex or have a boyfriend, to wear makeup and live the life a free woman is lawfully allowed to, than it is to BEAT or MURDER SOMEONE? Where is the honour in PUNISHING a woman for being raped? Instead of ruining someone in the name of honour, how about NOT ruining someone in the name of humanity?
Karma Nirvana is a charity for victims of forced marriage and honour-based abuse, established by survivor Jasvinder Sanghera. This is a charity I fully support since many of the women who are victim to such violence are unable to communicate their situation due to fear or perhaps language barriers, and I urge other women and men to support this organisation too. I really hope there will be a lot more awareness on issues such as honour violence and child marriages, it’s something that is not talked about at all, and we often forget that some women do not have the freedoms that many of us enjoy. It’s not even limited to women, when sons/brothers are being killed for being gay. Where are the feminists for these women and men?
Disclaimer: Honour violence does NOT only happen in Asian communities, however I have used ‘Asian’ as an umbrella term for other minorities…because I am Asian. Fortunately, although some traditional ways of thinking do linger, my family have never placed culture above anything important and I’ve never had to worry about backward ways of thinking ruining my life. I have always had control over my life, and although I was not religious at all in my younger days, the Asian upbringing kept me in check, and that worked out the best for me. But for others, I know this is not true. For other girls, their family is so focused on reputation and culture that their lives are mapped out for them, and it upsets me to know that even in the UK, this still happens.