As citizens of a certain country for a number of years, many of us are subjected to certain values on a constant day-to-day basis. Some of these values eventually become second nature in our lives while others are a bit more difficult to perceive and adapt, especially if we are not exposed to them. Some values which we learn about, we will simply find disagreeable from the start.
Honor killings, a practice most commonly found in Middle Eastern regions and regions of South Asia (though don’t think it doesn’t or never did exist in Western civilization) generally involves the killing of women by their own family members to restore honor to the family name. This is often the case due to certain taboos that the aforementioned women have committed that might stray out of their religious or cultural accommodations. More often the case, these transgressions that are punishable by death under certain tribal points of view tend to involve lifestyles that many of us find to be commonplace and, while perhaps not entirely tasteful to our particular brand of values, hardly justifies corporal punishment or being put to death: finding romantic partners outside of family arrangements (and that may or may not align with the same religion), having children out of wedlock or even simply being outspoken against male figures (or society in general through the use of social media as was the case with Qandeel Baloch)
Sometimes these values clash. Sometimes honor killings go unpunished or with minimal or lenient sentencing for those who have committed the crimes. Enter one Olga Jad Kamar, a Jordanian immigrant who had married and had children in an attempt to remain in the United States even after her visiting student visa was void when she left school. While this would result in little more than her deportation back to Jordan, Kamar had divorced and had a child out of wedlock in that time period. Since then, her cousin has essentially promised her that he had to restore honor to the family by killing her. He writes in a letter to Kamar, “You understand what the punishment is for a girl like you who brings shame upon your family.”
Despite a rejection of her appeal to immigration authorities in 2016, three judges in the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals voted unanimously to block her removal from the United States on the premise of her endangerment should she return to Jordan. And while statistics are conflicting with one another, many believe that assaults upon women in Jordan are higher despite harsher punishments being sentenced. Activists for women’s rights and Kamar herself also assert that even for what is called protective custody, women are effectively incarcerated and tortured.
It is an obvious clash of values, and while the concept of honor killing is not strictly limited to any certain religions, the idea of a very stark contrast in views from one part of the world to another is still quite alarming. Because honor killings are generally restricted to family involvement or what some call tribal arbitration, the ability to bring guilty parties to justice can be overwhelmingly difficult as well, subjecting thousands of women around the world every year to its dangers without any recourse. As noted by Detective Chris Boughey in a case involving the death of Noor Almaleki in 2009, “…I learned very quickly that we would receive no assistance from the family…In fact, we received out-and-out defiance and resistance.”