Wednesday, November 23, 2005

'Honor' killings steeped in tradition

Revisiting the dark tradition of honor killings:

"Heshu Yones, a West London teen, fought off her father for a frantic 15 minutes. She ran from room to room in her family home one Saturday afternoon until he cornered her in a dingy bathroom, held her over the tub and slit her throat.

The father, a onetime Kurdish freedom fighter from Iraq, told authorities that his only daughter had to die. The 16-year-old had sullied the family name, he said, by dating without his permission."

"Hatun Surucu, mother of a 5-year-old, stood at a bus stop near her home in Berlin after a brother phoned to arrange a meeting one night. The Turkish woman, 23 and divorced, was studying to be an electrician. She had argued with her family over her choices but she recently told friends that she was hopeful for a reconciliation.

Surucu was holding a hot cup of coffee when bullets tore into her. Three of her four brothers, ages 18 to 25, were arrested even as her parents denied family involvement to police. When the murder trial opened in October, the youngest son said he, alone, slaughtered a sister "who lacked morals."

"It was too much for me," teenager Ayhan Surucu said in court."

"Honor killings claim an estimated 5,000 women worldwide every year in overwhelmingly patriarchal cultures. Family honor is a tangible value in these societies, and women are considered family property."

"At one school near the site of the slaying, sons of Turkish emigres told teachers that Surucu deserved to die for living a Western life.

Principal Dietmar Pagel, whose neighboring school has a 70 percent Turkish population, quickly held class discussions to define the murder as a crime. The veteran teacher in Berlin's Little Istanbul area said his primer on the rule of law was as important as teaching ABCs.

"It's difficult (to educate students and their families) because the Islamic community here has become more closed," he said. "And the Turkish population tends to bring brides from Turkey to marry. So there is a constant reseeding of values from home - rather than real integration."

"Corinna Ter-Nedden, a psychologist who works at a shelter for abused women, said girls born and educated in Germany who come from Turkish families suffer the most from family pressure. Turkey recently changed its penal code to stiffen the punishments for honor crimes - a change seen by many as an attempt to bolster its hope for European Union membership.

That legal change has yet to filter into the psyche of the poor, small-town immigrants who make their way to Germany, Ter-Nedden said."
'Honor' killings steeped in tradition

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