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.