Is Facebook Responsible For Honor Killings?

When we’re browsing our favorite social media platforms, most of us don’t stop to consider the full scope of what we’re doing. Who are we talking to, and what effect are we having on those we correspond with? What are the consequences of our actions, both seen and unseen? Those questions are experiencing dynamic shifts as we begin to search for the answers in a rapidly advancing age of connectivity and higher technology. Here’s a new one: are there honor killings over the use of Facebook?

In some Middle Eastern countries, arranged marriages are tradition. Straying from the path set forth by your parents is a dangerous option that few would exercise, but some choose to anyway in hopes of finding greater freedom through the outside world. When one Saudi Arabian woman was caught perusing Facebook by her father, she was beaten for her curiosity–especially because she had been speaking with a man she had met online. After the beating she was forced to endure, her father shot her.

This isn’t a complete surprise because many religious leaders in the region are convinced that Facebook and other social media platforms just like it are an unprecedented source of evil–and they work tirelessly to convince others of this odd belief as well. When people fall prey to these beliefs, their actions can transform into a kind of extremism that most people in more developed regions of the world can’t even fathom.

These same religious leaders believe that women shouldn’t be allowed to use Facebook or any practice management software at all because it supposedly leads them towards a life filled with lust. Even so, there are nearly 8 million Facebook users residing in the country out of a population with only 32 million people. That’s a gigantic swath of people who are giving into temptation–if you believe in that sort of thing.

In the past, many of these profiles used aliases and fake pictures in order to avoid discrimination. Saudi officials have also moved to block Facebook entirely, but the measure did not pass. In 2016, Facebook Messenger was successfully banned because of privacy concerns.

The use of Facebook in Saudi Arabia and similar countries today is very different than it is in other regions throughout the world. If you share someone else’s post or tag them in content which they could find offensive or embarrassing, then you could end up the target of a defamation suit–or much worse. Even drinking is illegal in the country, and so photos of such behavior could get you in big legal trouble.

It’s important to realize how enormously different traditions are in other regions of the world, and we need to take a moment to consider how we can best implement meaningful change to make the lives of citizens who live in those regions a whole lot better. Facebook might be the first step towards reducing the number of honor killings, but only if we can effect change the right way.

Details About The Honor Killing Of Hina Saleem

If you were born in Pakistan and decide to travel abroad to learn a little bit more about the world, you should probably be wary of your new environment and the people in it–but even moreso, perhaps you should be wary of your own parents. Hina Saleem, a twenty-year-old Pakistani native living in Northern Italy was the victim of ritualistic honor killing because she was becoming too westernized.

Hina’s father, Mohammed Saleem, was open and honest about his feelings regarding his daughter’s new outlook on life. He didn’t like it. According to him, she had dishonored and shamed the entire family, and it was up to them to make sure that she paid the price and saw his family’s honor redeemed. He says that he had no desire to kill her–no, he only wanted his baby girl to move back home where she belonged. She refused.

He dragged a knife across her throat no fewer than twenty-eight times, and is now serving a thirty year sentence for the unthinkable crime he committed. Back in 2011, he was allowed to grant an interview that showed the outside world a window into the other side of this horrible crime and the people who most often it out. Why do parents choose to kill their own children rather than see them adopt different customs and traditions, date a different kind of person, or wear different clothing? The answer is a complex one, and for most people it doesn’t make much sense.

Mohammed thought himself a decent, caring father who had done a good job raising his daughter. That ideal vision of his daughter came to a crushing halt the moment she refused to give in to a traditional marriage that had been arranged for her. She began smoking. She dated an Italian man. These were shocking betrayals. Mohammed saw this as a devastating blow to his family, and the pain of that blow radiated outward into their surrounding community, who would inevitably come to look at him differently.

After the murder was committed, he buried Hina in the garden out back. His family knew where her final resting place was located, and they supported Mohammed’s decision. This type of honor killing occurs not only because of the clash between traditions in new regions, but because the family dynamic is one of ownership over freedom. Hina Saleem was not free to fly wherever she chose–her father had the final say, and that’s why the murder was eventually committed. She was unrelenting in her desire to live a life of freedom.

According to the United Nations Population Fund, an estimated 5,000 women and girls are murdered every year in apparent honor killings, although men are not exempt from this type of violent response. The world must adopt a different attitude if these killings are to be prevented in the future, and we must acknowledge that there are countries that fail to provide legal justice in the face of such crimes. Only then can we really stand a chance to stop this trend from continuing.

Details About The Honor Killing Of Hatun Sürücü

Although honor killings are more common in certain parts of the world, we live in a world where people can travel thousands of miles in a matter of hours. Because we can live wherever we like, these somewhat archaic, ritualistic forms of murder can make their way into societies where they are deemed completely barbaric–a reputation they find for good reason. On February 7, 2005, a Turkish-Kurdish native woman named Hatun Sürücü was murdered by her younger brother in an apparent honor killing in Berlin, sparking outrage in the surrounding regions.

Hatun was only 23 when she was murdered, and her young life was ended for the most tragic of reasons. At the age of 16, she was forced to marry one of her cousins. Soonafter, she gave birth to a son through this cousin. She couldn’t handle the pressure from her family, and without any form of practical recourse she decided to run away from her home in Berlin. While in Germany, she divorced this man and began to see a native German, a turn of events which her own family found appalling. She also continued her education in an attempt to become an electrician, a feat she had very nearly accomplished when she was eventually killed.

Hatun was killed on February 7 when someone shot her in the head three times as she stood waiting near a bus stop. Although it took a few weeks for the case to gain traction during the initial investigation, police were eventually able to tease a confession out of her youngest brother. Before her death, she had already been the victim of a number of threats, which she did not hesitate to report. Before the youngest brother confessed, the media had already decided that Hatun’s death could be categorized as an honor killing.

Ayhan Sürücü, the youngest brother, was eventually convicted of the murder and sentenced to a somewhat lenient nine years and a handful in months in prison. As of July 4, 2014, he was freed and promptly deported to Turkey. A man who murdered his sister for divorcing her cousin is now free to live his life. Because this is nearly as appalling as the crime itself, and also due to the fact that this was the sixth such honor killing in less than a year, the public responded strongly especially in Dallas.

Vigils were held in Hatun’s name and memory, and some organizations fought against Turkey’s introduction to the European Union on the grounds of human rights violations. Even today, people continue to organize events to memorialize Hatun on February 7 each year, determined to fight against such injustices before they can continue.

What Is Gjakmarrja And Where Is It Practiced?

There are certain societies on Planet Earth (that’s our home, unfortunately) that take the concept of honor very, very seriously. A lot of people think this not-so-romantic notion of honor died out with the westernization of Japan. Not true at all. Actually, honor is still alive and well, and somewhat ironically it’s making a lot of unlucky individuals very dead and unwell. Gjakmarrja means “blood-taking” and even though you might mistake it for something Klingon, it is an Albanian practice in which family members take back the family’s honor by slaughtering the person or persons who stole it.

In other words, when ranking criminal justice systems, gjakmarrja ranks as just a little bit more strict than an eye for an eye.

Gjakmarrja isn’t all too common nowadays, but those who still practice it (or use it as an excuse to kill someone unliked) consider it more of an obligation than a choice. You might choose your sexual orientation or whether or not to live in poverty or whether God smiles upon your family, but you do not choose gjakmarrja. It chooses you. Sadly, this form of honor-killing is experiencing a recurrence in some parts of the world–namely it’s original home in some parts of Albania and Kosovo. When communism fell, the more remote, lawless regions of these countries fell back on old traditions. That’s just one more thing wrong with communism: it helps enforce a system of laws that prevent you from killing your enemies in the name of honor. A real shame.

Then again, with gjakmarrja comes order of a different kind. After all, honor-killing wouldn’t be quite the same without a rigid set of rules and regulations guiding how to best adopt the bloody practice. If you were hoping to take back any honor stolen by a woman or some old guy, you’re completely out of luck. You can’t kill women, children, male virgins, or the elderly.

It should be noted that gjakmarrja is just another form of killing in the name of honor, and even though it comes with certain rules and codes and definitions, it isn’t all that different from other practices throughout the Balkans (something explored in-depth by Ismail Kadare in his book Broken April. Kadare believes that blood feuds between landowning families is to blame for the continued violence over such huge time periods.

Today, the consequences of enduring blood feuds between rivals and landowning families–and even honor killings involving immediate family members–are discussed and explored at length in the media and cinema. Some purport that Albania’s failing government and judiciary branch are to blame, but whatever the cause, a solution needs to be found as quickly as possible. Too many victims are young and without any legal recourse, and it’s impossible to sort out justice from injustice so far into the fringe of Albania and other countries where these atrocities are still committed.

The Honor Killings of The Shafia Family in Ontario, Canada

The Shafia family murders were a high profile murder case that took place in in Ontario, Canada. Three young girls: Zainab, Sahar and Geeti, aged 19,17 and 13 respectively, along with Rona Amir Mohammed, aged 50 were found dead on June 30th 2009, in a car that was found underwater in the Kingston Mills lock, a part of the Rideau Canal.

The three girls were the children of Mohammad Shafia and his second wife Tooba Mohammad Yahya. The couple also had one son, Hamed, who was 20 years old. Rona Amir Mohammed was the first wife of Mohammad Shafia, and was infertile. The couple was a part of a polygamous household.

Mohammad Shafir, Tooba Yahya and Hamed were arrested in relation to the murder on July 23rd, and were charged with four counts of first degree murder. The murders were considered to be honour killings. The case eventually went to trial, and they were found guilty of all the charges in January 2012. The trial was conducted in four languages: English, Spanish, French and Dari, and this is thought to have been the first time that a Canadian trial has been conducted in four languages. The trial attracted a huge amount of media attention, and sparked debate over values, the protection of immigrant groups, and the issue of honour killings.

The Shafia family was originally from Afghanistan. They left there in 1992, and spent time in Australia and in the United Arab Emirates. They eventually settled in Canada in 2007. Mohammad Shafia got married to Rona long before leaving Afghanistan, but she was infertile. In 1989, he married his second wife, and then had seven children. Rona raised the children as if they were hers, and when the family moved to Canada, Rona pretended to be an aunt. Rona was the only person in the family that did not practice Shi’a Islam.

According to many reports coming from around the time of the trial, Rona wished for a divorce, but her husband was unwilling to grant it. Rona was in an abusive relationship, and was told that she was a slave and a servant. Since the Shafia family had Rona’s passport, she felt that she could not flee the country. She was on a visitor’s visa, and this was used to hold power over her.

Rona was not the only member of the family that allegations of abuse or threats surfaced regarding. Zainab, the eldest daughter, was in a relationship with a Pakistani boy, and this angered Mohammad Shafia. There were allegations from family members that Mohammad had threatened to kill her.

The jury in the trial determined that the deaths were honor killings. Following the result of the trial, imams from many mosques in Canada and the US issued moral rulings condemning domestic violence, misogyny and honour killings. The Islamic Supreme Council of Canada also denounced honour killing and domestic violence, and Ali Falih Altaie, the imam of the family, called the murders unforgivable. It was a wrongful death.

How Do Muslim Americans Feel About Honor Killings?

Perhaps because most Muslims in America are default more westernized than their counterparts in The Middle East or Islamic regions, they believe that the barbaric ritual of honor killing is indeed deplorable. When approached on the subject, they claim that the religion itself does not promote violence but that honor killings stem from sexism and tribal behavior from when the religion was first founded.

But some Muslim Americans have taken it a step further to help advocate against these vicious felonies. Muslim leaders across the nation came together to create “Imams Speak Out: Domestic Violence Will Not Be Tolerated In Our Communities.” The goal would be to discuss the ramifications of domestic violence in their weekly sermons to stress that this type of behavior and violence is not acceptable morally, religiously, or legally.

From there, the Muslim Men Against Domestic Abuse Organization was born. Established in February 2009, the goal is to raise awareness and vow to neither participate, condone or remain silent about physical, psychological and the emotional abuse of Muslim (as well as non-Muslim) women and children. According to the members, they reject domestic violence because their religion calls to stand for justice and reject all forms of oppression.

Despite many many objections to Trump’s Muslim Travel Ban, there’s an interesting piece of verbiage related to honor killings. The order dictates that the secretary of the Department of Homeland security will regularly and publicly publish “information regarding the number and types of acts of gender-based violence against women, including so-called ‘honor killings,’ in the United States by foreign nationals.” This works in conjunction with Trump’s VOICE program that was created to raise awareness of crimes being committed by undocumented immigrants.

While honor killings do not happen often in the United States (or they are not reported as honor killings but rather regular homicides), when they do occur, it actually is done by legal immigrants. However, it is nice to see the administration acknowledge this crime. After all, the goal is to stop honor killings.

Key Details About The Honor Killing of Aqsa Pervez

Aqsa Pervez was a victim of an honor killing in Mississauga, Canada in December 2007.

The case received attention in various parts of the nation and world due to how it was completed and the reasoning behind it.

Here is more on the key details about the honor killing of Aqsa Pervez in Canada.

Who Was Aqsa Pervez?

Aqsa Pervez was a 16-year-old high school student living in Mississauga, Canada with her family at the time of her death.

She attended Applewood Heights Secondary School, and her father was a local taxi driver named Muhammad Parvez.

She was of Pakistani origin and grew up as a Muslim in a Muslim family.

At the time of her death, she had moved into her neighbor’s house named Lubna Tahir because of the underlying tension that was brewing in her house.

Day of Honor Killing

On the day of the honor killing, she had gone back to her house, and that is when the act was committed. It was completed by the brother as the tension grew in their household.

The brother had strangled her, and when the Peel Regional Police arrived, she was hanging onto her life by a thread. She was sent to Credit Valley Hospital before being transferred to the Hospital for Sick Children.

When the act was committed, her father called 911 to let the operator know he had killed his daughter. The police were able to respond in minutes and when they arrived the life-threatening injuries were evident.

The Hospital for Sick Children was unable to help Aqsa Pervez as her injuries were far too severe, she had medical problems and she passed away due to neck compression from strangling.

Reports came out from high school friends that she had been complaining about receiving threats from her father/brother.

Reason for Honor Killing

What was the reason for Aqsa Pervez being killed by her brother?

It was stated, she had refused to take up the hijab (Muslim garment worn by a woman) and that had caused her parents and brother grief. They wanted her to move away from “Western” teachings and felt it was corrupting her mind.

Due to the arguments both parties had back and forth, the honor killing took place when she went back home. The same was said by Muhammad Pervez when he was asked about the issue at hand when it came to Aqsa Pervez. The father had also reported having told the mother his daughter was not under her control and this had made him lose his honor.

Follow-up of the Case

Aqsa Pervez’s honor killing was denounced by various Islamic councils and imams in Canada, and the judge sentenced both Muhammad Parvez and Waqas Pervez with murder. Both father and son were sentenced to life imprisonment with no chance of parole until 2028.

It is also reported various statements were made by Waqas Pervez to his father about not speaking to the police and this was deemed to be an obstruction of justice.

The Difference Between Honor Killings And Honor Suicide

An honor killing is where a person is killed due to his or her immoral actions, normally by a relative, in order to restore honor to the family. This practice is normally aimed at women who have been found guilty of an immoral practice.

An honor suicide on the other hand is a practice whereby a person takes their own life in order to restore honor to themselves, their family or a master. Honor suicides can take many different forms and can either be voluntary or coerced.

A form of voluntary honor suicide is seen the ancient ritual of Japanese Seppuku. This is where a Samurai would kill himself when he has been found to be dishonorable to save his Daimyo from the shame of having to take his life. Shimbu-tai is another form of Japanese suicide where a soldier takes his own life in a way that will inflict maximum damage and casualties on the enemy.

Coerced honor suicide is normally where a woman who has committed an immoral act is persuaded that there is no other way for her to restore honor or to continue life other than to kill herself. This is normally done by threatening torture, death or imprisonment of herself, family members or loved ones.

Immoral acts in both the form of honor killing and suicide can range widely. Dressing salaciously, conversing with men, adultery, rape and other acts are all considered to be reason for an honor suicide or killing.

Unfortunately, in some circumstances, no evidence of the alleged act is necessary for the practice to be enforced. In most cases, the husband, father or other relative will force the woman into a position where she thinks she has no other option.

The practice is also widely used to cover up the crime of murder. Due to the fact that honor suicides are rarely investigated in the countries in which they are practiced, it is the ideal means to literally get away with murder.

The main similarity between the two is that the act is meant to restore honor to another person or family by the taking of a life. The difference lies mainly in the means in which this is achieved, the one through suicide and the other through death at the hand of a relative or other person.

Both of these practices are highly controversial as there is no legal or legislated way of determining guilt or innocence. However, in most countries where they are practiced, the law simply overlooks the murder or suicide. In other words, even though they are illegal in most countries around the world, they are not policed as they should be.

Honor killings can however result in charges of murder. Honor suicides on the other hand that were used as means to cover up a murder rarely result in charges due to the lack of investigation into the issue. The U.N. has started making moves to ensure that all honor suicides are investigated.

Different Forms Of Honor-Based Violence

While ‘honor killings‘ is the most commonly discussed aspect of this phenomenon, it is actually only one of a link of control exercised over women’s lives. In ‘honor’ cultures women and men are subject to the wishes of the elders in their family and in the community who presume to act in the greater good of the culture as a whole. Children or adults who step outside of the cultural boundaries or insist on their own autonomy are considered to selfish and disruptive and to violate the honor of the family and therefore the community.

Women are particularly targeted and constantly subjected to surveillance to prevent them from transgressing the honor code of the family and thereby bringing into disrepute. Women brought up in honor cultures have little or no privacy at home, and few opportunities for socializing outside their immediate kinship network. The family feels honor bound to restrict a woman’s movements to prevent them from developing relationships outside the community group. Such a control ethnic controls a woman’s freedom of association and movement to such an extent that they are denied opportunities to socialize in a wider world, freedom to choose who they have relationships with, and choosing to seek help when violence or coercion occurs. Responses to a perceived slight on the family honor vary according to family preference and the public nature of the behavior that is seen as “dishonoring”.

Motives For Honor-Based Violence

Some of the most common motives for committing honor-based violence are:
– Loss of virginity in unmarried women;
– Extramarital affairs;
– Homosexuality;
– Insulting an elder family member;
– Rebellion against traditional dress, occupation or forms of behavior;
– Honor conflicts such as inheritance disputes
– Refusal to take part in honor-based violence against others.

Forms of Honor-Based Violence

Young girls and women are the most common victims of honour-based violence which can take many different forms, however, boys and men are often victims too. Girls or women who have displayed dishonoring behavior are often disowned by the family, abused, or forced to have an abortion. Examples of honor-based violence include:
– Physical abuse such as beating and kicking;
– Abandonment (leaving a person behind in their country of origin or forcing them to go back there;
– Forced suicide
– Psychological pressure such as threats, humiliation and strict monitoring of movement and behavior;
– Honor killing (murdering a person);
– Forced abortion or hymen ‘repair’;
– Abduction and imprisonment.

Sometimes when a woman falls pregnant outside of marriage and this is unknown outside the immediate family circle, the family may consider an abortion and a hymen repair a better solution than committing honor-based violence which is a crime. However, if her condition becomes common knowledge, the family may have to resort to more severe forms of punishment to quell the negative reactions from the community. Consent to such drastic medical procedures is either acquired under duress or not at all. When given the choice between hymenoplasty and an unwanted abortion, and death at the hands of a family member, it is impossible not to consent. Such methods violate a woman’s rights over her own body.

In countries where honor-killings are vigorously prosecuted, a strategy is deployed to force a woman to kill herself in order for the perpetrator to be found technically innocent of murder. This is particularly common in certain regions of Turkey. It is never clear whether forced suicide was due to direct coercion, whether a woman is honor-bound to kill herself in order to spare a family member from going to jail, whether an honor-killing has been disguised as suicide, or whether a woman has truly committed suicide to escape the unbearable violence, restrictions, disfavour and abuse by her life family. No matter what the issue is, it’s a criminal act.

What World Religions Practice Honor Killings?

Honor has been passed down from generation to generation and is a concept that is ingrained in many societies.

It is something that has transcended life and is a part of living for people. One of the reasons for honor being such a healthy subject and one that is adhered to passionately involves religion. Many deviants who go through with honor killings point towards religious expectations and rules as a reason for their actions.

This read is going to analyze world religions where honor killings are practiced and used as a way to manage honor.

Islam

This is the first religion that pops up when it comes to honor killings, and it has a rich history with the concept.

While numerous clerics have stated honor killings are “un-Islamic,” the understanding of religion by various Muslim states and its citizens have made it a connected subject. Many perpetrators who go ahead with honor killings use Islam as a means to describe their murder and why it was necessary to restore honor to their family.

Islamic nations also have relaxed regulations when it comes to honor killings, and this can be a major issue for victims receiving justice. The religion has been associated with numerous followers who have decided to go ahead and use Islam as a means to justify honor killings.

Judaism

While Judaism hasn’t seen a comprehensive set of international cases such as Islam, it had a phase during a time where honor killings were tolerated.

This was a time when Judaism was spreading, and honor was seen as an important concept to keep the tribes together. If not, it would lead to the disintegration of the community, and that wasn’t acceptable. This is why honor killings were permissible and something that had been used as a tool to control family members.

Christianity

It was at the time of the early civilizations where honor killings were practiced with great vigor.

Various civilizations felt it was appropriate to use the religion to justify honor and make sure it was protected at all costs. This meant the religion was spread and it became a prominent part of life. While it is not as prominent now and the religion has seen a change in how things are done, it is a religion that has been associated with honor killings in the past.

Its history can be connected to the concept of honor to this day.

These are the religions where honor is practiced, and honor killings are justified using religion. While most nations understand honor killings are unacceptable and do punish those who are guilty, the punishments are still not as severe in various nations around the world.

A lot of work is being done to work with these nations to ensure religion isn’t used as a crux by deviants who perform these killings to protect honor. Progress has been made with most nations strengthening their legal system to protect men or women who are victims of honor killings.