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Shariah & Women and Children

Britain Examines 'Honor Killings'

The Christian Science Monitor
July 7, 2004
London, England

Heshu Yones was just 16 when her father slit her throat because of her choice of boyfriend. Sahjda Bibi was 21 when a cousin stabbed her to death in her wedding dress for marrying against family wishes. Rukhsana Naz was strangled by her brother and mother for getting pregnant by a lover. The slaughter of a succession of young women by their male family members in recent years has alerted Britain to a problem that has migrated to Western Europe along with growing minority communities from South Asia, Africa, and the Middle East: "honor crimes."

For their perpetrators, these crimes have "honor" because they fulfill tribal custom to redeem the shame that some women have supposedly brought upon their families.

Last month, British police said they were reviewing more than 100 recent murders that could have been honor killings in an effort to understand the crime pattern better.

Their counterparts in Europe are no less alarmed: Sweden, the Netherlands, Germany, and France are addressing this growing problem.

The United Nations says at least 5,000 women worldwide are killed each year as a matter of so-called family honor. Increasing numbers of these crimes are happening to women in Western Europe.


Young Children Convinced of Death as a Shahid as Ideal


Young Children Convinced of Death as a Shahid as Ideal
June 2002

Two 11-year-old girls articulate their personal goal to become shahids [people who die for Allah], explaining that "all Palestinian children" see Shahada [death for Allah] - because of its promised grand Afterlife - as more worthwhile than living.


Interviewer: You described Shahada as something beautiful. Do you think it is beautiful?

Walla: Shahada is a very beautiful thing. Everyone yearns for Shahada. What could be better than going to paradise?

Interviewer: What is better, peace and full rights for the Palestinian people or Shahada?

Walla: Shahada. I will achieve my rights after becoming a shahid. We won't stay children forever.

Interviewer: Ok, Yussra, would you agree with that?

Yussra: Of course. It is a good [sweet] thing. We don't want this world, we want the Afterlife. We benefit not from this life but from the Afterlife. All Palestinians, not like other youth, are hot tempered, they choose Shahada, since they are Palestinian.


Thousands of Women Killed for Family "Honor"

National Geographic News
February 12, 2002
By Hillary Mayell

Hundreds, if not thousands, of women are murdered by their families each year in the name of family "honor." It's difficult to get precise numbers on the phenomenon of honor killing; the murders frequently go unreported, the perpetrators unpunished, and the concept of family honor justifies the act in the eyes of some societies.

Most honor killings occur in countries where the concept of women as a vessel of the family reputation predominates, said Marsha Freemen, director of International Women's Rights Action Watch at the Hubert Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota.

Reports submitted to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights show that honor killings have occurred in Bangladesh, Great Britain, Brazil, Ecuador, Egypt, India, Israel, Italy, Jordan, Pakistan, Morocco, Sweden, Turkey, and Uganda. In countries not submitting reports to the UN, the practice was condoned under the rule of the fundamentalist Taliban government in Afghanistan, and has been reported in Iraq and Iran.

But while honor killings have elicited considerable attention and outrage, human rights activists argue that they should be regarded as part of a much larger problem of violence against women.


Female Circumcision Comes to America

Female genital mutilation is on the rise in America. France, Canada, Denmark, Switzerland, Sweden, and Belgium all have outlawed the practice. The US has not.

The Atlantic
October 1995
San Jose, CA
By Linda Burstyn

IT is a late-summer night, nearly midnight in Washington, D.C., when the taxicab comes for Mimi Ramsey. She steps into it with a worried look in her eyes and her mouth firmly set. She is on her way to yet another stranger's house, where she will again--for the umpteenth time in the past year--talk about the most personal and most secret of African customs, offering herself as a sort of human roadblock in the traffic of tradition. At the house Ramsey is kissed on both of her cheeks by her hostess, an Ethiopian immigrant like herself, and ushered into a dimly lit living room decorated with rugs and cloths from their homeland. There she spends the next several hours huddled together with the young mother, Genat, talking in conspiratorial whispers.

"Mother says she will do it anyway, herself--when I'm out of the house--if I don't agree to get it done soon," Genat confides to the woman she hopes will help her. "She says she will take a razor blade and do it." Ramsey nods. She has heard this story many times before, and responds by reciting a long list of reasons why the older woman must be stopped, trying to give Genat the courage to buck tradition and disobey her mother. "You cannot let her do this to your child. Please. It is wrong. You know how painful it is. How damaging. Your daughter may hate you for life for what you allow to happen to her."

Genat shakes her head. She doesn't want her baby girl, just born in this country, to be circumcised, as is customary in her native land, but her mother is adamant.

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