Thursday, December 08, 2005

Honor Killings


I heard a news story on NPR about "honor killings" in Iraq. The story talked about a young girl kidnapped by the so called "insurgents" to try to force her family to make her brother quit the new police force. The brother did quit and the girl was returned to her family. However instead of celebrating the girls return (as would be done if she was a man) the family allowed a cousin to kill her. This they did to avenge the honor of the family because there was a chance she might have been raped. Even if they knew she was innocent, she would have to die to preserve the tribal honor of the family, because it would have been a scandal. The cousin, himself a policeman, shot her as she walked thru the door, expecting to be welcomed. The mother, father and brothers and sisters did nothing, except cry. This sickening tradition made me wonder if Iraq is even worth saving. I found more insight into the situation in the following article:

From the Times Of India website:
NEW YORK: When it took over as caretakers Iraq, the Bush administration had vowed to make Iraq a role model for the Arabian countries vis-a-vis women's rights.
Iraqi women are in the news again, not for their rights but for the wrong reasons. The fall of Saddam Hussein's regime has brought a new nightmare for them - honour killings. The latest terrifying development is Iraqi men killing their sisters, wives, daughters or mothers, suspected of straying from traditional rules of chastity and fidelity, Time magazine reports. According to reports provided by police, court officials and doctors at Baghdad's forensic institute, the number of victims of honour killings in Iraq since US invasion has gone up in hundreds, reports Time.
The magazine reports the perils of 24-year-old girl Shaima. A prostitute by profession, Shaima has been running for her life from her younger brother who is determined to kill her.
The brother has been 'delegated' by none other than her parents to reclaim the family's honour. Shaima was caught and almost had her throat slit. She, however, managed to escape to a policeman. Her brother explained to the officer that he was carrying out the family's desire to 'clean' the shame over Shaima's profession. Such killings, the magazine says, weren't frequent during Saddam Hussein's regime.
The Bush administration had proclaimed that safety of Iraqi women was one of its primary agenda when it took over Iraq. It had claimed that Iraq would be a role model for the Arabian countries vis-a-vis women's rights. However, the rise in the power of Muslim clerics has skewed the equation. During Saddam's reign, unless a rape victim agreed to marry her abductor, she would be killed by the family members to restore the family's honour. But now, the tyranny faced by women during Saddam's reign has been replaced by chronic violence and growing religious conservatism. Some Iraqis feel that certain liberties enjoyed under Saddam's regime have been completely curbed.
Many government offices require female employees to wear a veil at work. Women who once felt free to dress in Western clothing and shop alone now must wear a hijab , the traditional Muslim head scarf, when venturing outside, reports Time magazine. Women have become an easy target. And the house seems to have become the safest haven. Though the interim Prime Minister of Iraq, Iyad Allawi, has vowed to improve the situation, few Iraqis expect relief from the dangers that have become part of their life.
So many things the the Bush administration has tried to do in Iraq have gone sour. Such poor planning and little understanding of the culture. So much for our "Cowboy King". After the civil war thats coming in Iraq, history will place him and his cohorts in the hall of shame.

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