I Can't Believe This Still Happens: Honor Killings

It's kind of hard to convince American teenagers that we still need feminism. "But my mom works," many a peer of mine has stated in response to finding out that I identify with the f word. "She even kept her own last name. We're totally post-feminist."

Ah, yes, it is fun for us to live in the privileged little bubble that is the United States, where our Moms do work and can keep their own last names (how far we've come...). Even with the rate of women earning 77 cents for every man's dollar (as of 2007), not to even go into all of America's feminist short comings, we are incredibly lucky to live here.

At least we don't have honor killings.

Honor killings, as defined by StopHonourKillings.com, includes battery, torture, mutilation, rape, forced marriage, and even murder for the sake of preventing or punishing women’s violations of socially accepted behavior, especially sexual behavior. Women who have been abducted, arrested or raped are blamed for shaming their families and may be targeted for honor killings. In such countries as Iraq, Syria and Jordan the law condones these cases with lesser sentences, and in some rural communities even mandates them.

Still don't think we need feminism? This article I ran into over the weekend should help you change your mind. The title of the article? Turkish Girl Buried Alive for Talking to Boys.

Turkish police have recovered the body of a 16-year-old girl they say was buried alive by relatives in an "honour" killing carried out as punishment for talking to boys.

The girl, who has been identified only by the initials MM, was found in a sitting position with her hands tied, in a two-metre hole dug under a chicken pen outside her home in Kahta, in the south-eastern province of Adiyaman.

Police made the discovery in December after a tip-off from an informant, the Turkish newspaper Hurriyet reported on its website. The informant told the police she had been killed following a family "council" meeting. Her father and grandfather are said to have been arrested and held in custody pending trial. It is unclear whether they have been charged. The girl's mother was arrested but was later released.

Media reports said the father had told relatives he was unhappy that his daughter – one of nine children – had male friends. The grandfather is said to have beaten her for having relations with the opposite sex.

A postmortem examination revealed large amounts of soil in her lungs and stomach, indicating that she had been alive and conscious while being buried. Her body showed no signs of bruising.

The discovery will reopen the emotive debate in Turkey about "honour" killings, which are particularly prevalent in the impoverished south-east.  Official figures have indicated that more than 200 such killings take place each year, accounting for around half of all murders in Turkey.

As I read this article, I thought this girl was my age...this girl could have been me. And that's a scary ass thought. I thought of all my guy friends, the conversations I have with them every day, and then tried to imagine a society in which those conversations -- which are insightful, helpful, kind and funny-- could be the nails in my coffin.

I'm not trying to minimize the sexist issues that I, and all other American/1st world feminists face, because they are important. Just because disgusting shit like this happens doesn't mean we should give up the fights to end injustices that effect our own lives, no matter how they compare to honor killings.

But the fact is that we have come so far in our own country that it's sometimes hard to believe that somebody would actually murder their own family member (granddaughter...daughter) for merely talking to the opposite sex.

The next time anybody questions feminism, it may be because they're not thinking globally. Clearly, we have a shit ton of work left to do.

More articles by Category: Feminism, Gender-based violence, International, Violence against women
More articles by Tag: Europe and Central Asia, Activism and advocacy



Julie Zeilinger
Founding Editor of The WMC FBomb
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