Honor killing. We've all heard of it by now. We know that it is practiced mostly by Muslims and other backward societies in which a family's reputation is more important than the life of a family member. We all know by now it is almost exclusively girls and women who are the victims of the barbaric tradition. The cause of the family dishonor is often as trivial as overcooking a meal, as stupid as having fallen in love with the wrong person, or as insane as being a rape victim.
Honor killings happen the world over now, not only in countries dominated by Islam, but anywhere Muslims make their home. Many examples and links could be provided as "here and here", but I won't. Any search engine is overflowing with stories of honor killings. Despite the tragic story of each death, they are all the same story. Men and boys rape. Women and girls die. It's all very primitive.
Irshad Manji, the Muslim women's rights activist explains that the real crime is in tarnishing the honor of the family, clan, and tribe.
"Honor is the ... tradition that requires a woman to sacrifice her individuality to maintain the reputation of the men in her family. This, in effect, turns women into communal property. Their lives don’t belong to them. Their lives belong to a wider group of people — their clans, tribes, even nations.It is usually the father or husband who decides the family's honor has been impugned and must be cleansed with the blood of his daughter or wife. It is the boys and men who usually carry out the murder, but the women of the family have also participated.
[W]hen a Muslim woman is accused of dishonoring — of shaming or breaking moral codes — the punishment against her can be mammoth. Again, that’s because her life doesn’t belong to her, but to a bigger body. So that in “smearing” her personal reputation by being the victim of rape, she winds up tarnishing the reputation of many more people — with the penalty having to be large enough to compensate them all."
To be honest here, the barbarous tradition exerts a great deal of pressure on the men and boys to carry out the killing. So much so, that it is possible that many of the killers do so very reluctantly, aware and absolutely frightened of the danger remaining for the entire family if the killing is not carried out, honor restored, and their world set right.
Another factor is Sharia law which requires that a ruling "for a rape to be validated, victims must have four witnesses to the crime. If not, the victims can be charged with fornication or adultery." The four witnesses must be men and usually the only male witnesses are the rapists themselves. Sharia also says that the testimony of two women equals that of one man. So, in the case of rape, eight women need to risk death to save one life.
All this makes a recent story from Afghanistan all the more incredible. As told by CNN's Atia Abawi:
The young Afghan girl sits in the center of the room, weeping. Using her hand and her blue scarf to hide her face, she recounts how she was brutally raped by five gunmen.The men of these families are truly men. They will not kill their daughters because of some inane tribal code set down by primitive perverts so long ago no one remembers why. These fathers stand before their god, al'Lah, and say "NO! I will not kill my child and let the criminals go free to rape other little girls."
The 12-year-old girl's family members say they'll take their own lives unless justice is served.
"We will all commit suicide; this is not living," cries the mother of the girl, whose gang-rape occurred in Northern Afghanistan.
The girl's adolescent voice pleads for help from Hamid Karzai, the president of Afghanistan.
The girl's elderly and immobilized father trembles and can only raise a quivering hand as he sobs. He is rendered helpless in a country where a man's dignity and honor is protecting his family.
Her little brother sits in the back, far too young to understand the situation but still traumatized by the devastated cries around him. He wipes away his tears.
The children's mother sobs. "We've been violated. We can't live our lives. We can't sit. We can't sleep at night," she says.
They have since met with Karzai, according to an aide who said the president wept with the family and vowed to bring the perpetrators to justice. Karzai has fired the police chief from the city where the attack occurred, the aide said.
The family lives in a government-provided safe house in Kabul, Afghanistan.
Just last week, a 3-year-old girl was kidnapped and raped by unidentified men, a government official confirms. The toddler was later released and, the official says, is recovering.
Sayed Nurallah says his 14-year-old daughter was [a rape victim.] Nurallah says that coming forward with his daughter's story makes him a target, which he firmly accepts. He says that seeking justice for his daughter is a matter of integrity.
"She wakes up in the middle of the night screaming," Nurallah says of his daughter. "Her arms, legs, her body -- she is always tense and frightened."
Nurallah also pleads for justice. "I have one question for Mr. Karzai: If this was your little girl, what would you do?"
His firm tone changes to one of grief. He breaks into quiet sobs.
"I just want justice for my child," he says.
These men are the seed of a new justice in a primitive society. They are abandoning a system that very much favors them all for the love that a father has for his children. Their lives would have been so much easier had they just gone along with the program and butchered their daughters. But instead, these fathers, these men have chosen to risk everything to see justice done for the littlest victims. In doing so, they may supplant honor with integrity, and transform an entire religion.
The life of Indigo Red is full of adventure. Tune in next time for the Further Adventures of Indigo Red.