No Killing is Honorable
Honor killing, or shame killing, is when someone kills someone to protect the ‘honor’ of their family and or community. Statistically, women and young girls are the victims in these crimes and their male cousins, uncles, brothers, even fathers are the perpetrators. Honor killings are more gruesome and personal than other murders. Most honor killings involve the victim being beaten to death, strangled, decapitated, or shot several times. According to NPR, globally, 5,000 women and girls get killed every year from honor killings. Few reports of honor killings involve males as the victims. Usually men who get murdered from honor killings are killed with their female partner. The Middle East and South Asia have some of the most reports of honor killings.
For women, forms of ‘dishonor’ are when they talk with ‘unknown’ males, be alone with ‘unknown’ males, get married outside of their religion or elope. In the Middle East honor is seen as the only thing a man has. Losing that ‘honor’, means not being a man. There is a small documentary about honor killings, “Honorable Murder”, men describe how honor is everything. Quotes like ‘Without honor we become like pigs’ and ‘We are prepared to murder for our honor’ it shows the seriousness of how men view their honor and what they’re willing to do to protect it.
Israa Ghareeb, a Palestinain 21 year old makeup artist was a victim of this crime of ‘honor’. Days prior to her death, Israa posted a picture on Instagram of her and her soon to be fiance. Seen as an act of ‘dishonor’ to herself and family, it angered male relatives. Israa was in her family home when she was attacked allegedly by her brother. Beaten so badly her spine was fractured bringing her to the hospital. Fighting for her life, another male relative attacked her. She died later that day. Her family took control over all of her social media and spread false information about her death. Things like, Israa was suicidal and she jumped off a balcony or she had a heart attack. This murder happend in August 2019.
Tasleem Rajhu, a 18 year old Muslim girl fell in love with a Christian man. While her younger brother was supportive. Her older brother Mubeen Rajhu was not. In an interview with “Associated Press” Mubeen had little to no sympathy and explained how he constantly told his sister that ‘dating a Christian man was shameful’ and even his co-workers taunted him by saying things like ‘that’s your sister handle her’ ‘you’re not a real man’ ‘i’ll kill my sister instead of letting her have that relationship’. Mubeen said he thought about suicide because of the ‘dishonor’ Tasleem was causing. One day Tasleem told Mubeen that her younger brother and her were going to buy some medicine, really Tasleem was eloping and her brother was the witness. Coming back, Mubeen was suspicious and beat his younger brother until he told him the truth. With that information, he shot Tasleem in the head while she was talking to their mother. His ‘famous’ quotes for murdering his sister are that ‘She wouldn’t listen’ and “I had no other option”. Obviously this is murder and wrong but some people in Mubeen praises him, one of his neighbors said ‘I am proud of this man, he has done the right thing to kill her when the news spreads they will praise this man’. Mubeen getting no backlash from his community encourages this behavior and mindset.
Another case involving marriage, Samia Shahid a 28 year old Pakistani woman married someone who’s family disapproved of Samia moving to the UK where she got married. Her family did not support her marriage because Samia was supposed to marry one of her cousins. Lead to a divide in her relationship with her family. Getting a call that her father was ill, she rushed to Pakistan. 6 days into her stay she was found on the stairs of her cousin's house dead. Her family told police that she had a ‘heart attack’. Initially the police believed the family and did no further investigation. Her husband Mukhtar Syed Kazam, paid for another autopsy and found out the real cause; she died of strangulation.
Typically men aren’t the victims in honor killings, however there are some cases. Usually men are the victims because of their sexuality or gender expression. One recent case that happened in May 2021 was Alireza Fazeli Monfared, a 20 year old man who loved makeup and modelling. He planned to leave Iran for a better life and to pursue his dreams. Before making his dream a reality, he was kidnapped, beaten and beheaded. His half brother and two male cousins are suspects of his death. Getting an exemption card in the mail from the military for being homosexual let his family aware of his sexuality. Possibly leading to his death.
There are many more cases like these ones that have not been reported. Families tend to lie about the way the victims die; saying it was a heart attack, stroke, or suicide, leaving the victims without justice and the criminal free. The most scary thing about ‘honor killings’ is that the perpetrator sees nothing wrong with what they did, and so does their families. This act of ‘honor’ is just cold blooded murder. Hiding behind a religion is no excuse, no murder will ever be honorable.