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TIME: Marked Women (unpunished honor killings in Iraq)

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Barrett808 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jul-19-04 11:40 AM
Original message
TIME: Marked Women (unpunished honor killings in Iraq)
Marked Women - A rash of unpunished honor killings highlights the harrowing dangers females face in the new Iraq
By VIVIENNE WALT/BAGHDAD
Monday, Jul. 19, 2004

Shaima is running for her life. Her delicate face peeks out of a black head scarf as she nervously scans the sidewalk outside a Baghdad cafe. A 24-year-old prostitute, Shaima (not her real name) lives in fear of a man who is determined to kill her. The tormentor is her younger brother, who has been delegated by his parents to murder his sister and reclaim the family's honor.

He has already come close. Last month the brother spotted Shaima walking in the sprawling outdoor market in east Baghdad. He lunged at his sister with a knife, but she fled toward a policeman standing nearby. Shaima's brother explained to the officer that he was carrying out the family's desire to "cleanse" the shame over Shaima's profession. "Any other policeman would have turned me over to him," says Shaima. "For some reason, he shielded me." Her eyes darting around the cafe, Shaima says she does not expect to be so lucky the next time. "My brother's still out there hunting me."

When U.S. forces overthrew Saddam Hussein 15 months ago, the Bush Administration proclaimed that women's rights would be a centerpiece of its project to make Iraq a democratic model for the rest of the Arab world. But for many Iraqi women, the tyranny of Saddam's regime has been replaced by chronic violence and growing religious conservatism that have stifled their hopes for wider freedoms and, for many, put their lives in even greater peril. For women like Shaima, the most terrifying development has been the rash of honor killings committed by Iraqi men against sisters, wives, daughters or mothers whom they suspect of straying from traditional rules of chastity and fidelity. Although such killings are hard to quantify and occurred during Saddam's regime as well, Iraqi professionals believe that women are now being murdered by their kin at an unprecedented rate. On the basis of case reports provided by police, court officials and doctors at Baghdad's forensics institute, the number of victims of honor killings in Iraq since the U.S. invasion in March 2003 may total in the hundreds. (By comparison, in neighboring Jordan, where women's-rights advocates have succeeded in bringing attention to the issue, activists report an average of 20 honor killings a year.) "This isn't just an issue about women. It's about the whole society," says Safia al-Souhail, a female Iraqi politician who was appointed ambassador to Egypt last week. "We have to stop it. It's going on everywhere, and no one is speaking about it."

The rise in honor killings comes amid ongoing violence, including four car bombs last week that killed at least 28 Iraqis. The instability that has plagued Iraq since the war's end 15 months ago has curtailed the spread of liberties that U.S. officials once promised would have taken root by now. Violent crime remains rampant. And while interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi last week vowed to "annihilate" the armed insurgents, few Iraqis expect relief from the dangers that have become part of daily life.

Women are at the greatest risk. Many have become virtual prisoners inside their houses, seeking a safe haven amid rising rates of rape, kidnapping and carjacking. At the same time, as the power of Iraq's Muslim clerics has grown, the everyday freedoms that Iraqi women enjoyed under Saddam's secular Baathist regime have eroded. 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. Many government offices require female employees to wear a veil at work. "Since the war, women feel they cannot go anywhere without it," says Jacqueline Zia, 30, who runs a hair salon in Baghdad. The perils of being out after dark have forced Zia to eliminate the salon's evening hours, which for years provided women with a social outing away from their husbands.

(more)

http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,110104...
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Moderator DU Moderator Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-21-04 02:03 PM
Response to Original message
1. kick
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MaryH Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-21-04 02:07 PM
Response to Reply #1
2. I read this article, too.
Cannot even imagine what it is like for women that live in the middle east.

This kind of stuff goes on in India (where brides are killed so that the groom can remarry and get more dowry) and Saudi Arabia and Iran and Iraq and on and on.

Cannot even imagine!
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mistertrickster Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-21-04 07:49 PM
Response to Original message
3. Another Saddam Hussein related killing . . . NOT
kick
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struggle4progress Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-22-04 10:14 PM
Response to Original message
4. kick
:kick:
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JNelson6563 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-22-04 10:19 PM
Response to Original message
5. I'm surprised the "liberal media" isn't all over this!
Well, not really. Ugh. I'd say that at this rate of devolution we should be hitting our "dark ages" stage within 10-20 years.

Julie
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narcjen Donating Member (158 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jul-23-04 02:48 AM
Response to Original message
6. Bush has managed to set back womens rights in Iraq 400 years.

I'm sure they must be grateful to him.
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Matilda Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jul-23-04 03:13 AM
Response to Original message
7. Just the price of progress.
(Sarcasm off).

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KDLarsen Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jul-23-04 05:19 AM
Response to Original message
8. Didn't they just expose this in Pakistan as well?
I thought I saw a LBN thread about it a while ago.
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wackywill Donating Member (98 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jul-23-04 07:10 AM
Response to Original message
9. Are we blind?
The elephant in the room is that this is all about RELEGION. Its time to eliminate ORGANIZED religions of all type throughout the world. That is the real enemy, yes that includes our beloved flesh eating, blood drinking CHRISTIANS. I swear the Christ Ive read about would be appalled.

Before the rants start Im 100% for PRIVATE expression of religion its just this organized stuff thats dangerous.
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happyslug Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jul-23-04 09:02 AM
Response to Reply #9
11. This is NOT in the Koran or the Bible
"Honor Killings" are a long tradition in the Middle East, older than Christianity and Islam. IT IS NOT ORGANIZED RELIGION, BUT THE LONG TERM COMMUNITY BELIEF ON WHAT PEOPLE SHOULD DO IN CERTAIN SITUATIONS. Many "Traditional Societies" have always have this concept. Organized Religion (Like Organized Government) is limited in what it can do to end such practices. You may preach against it, you may punish the people who practice it, but it takes generations of opposition to such traditional beliefs to END SUCH PRACTICES (And require the something to replace the belief with, thus the best way to END this practice is to have the Islamic leadership start to advocate its end and how un-Islamic it is ).

Remember, most religions when their are adopted by a local culture adapt to that culture. For example Catholic Priests dress up in the robe of Roman Nobility, Orthodox Priests dress up in the formal Dress of Byzantine Imperial Court. Protestant Preachers dress like the businessmen of their time and country. None of these style of Dress have any real significance to their Religions, but are accommodations to the culture of the Country their are now in. The same with the rule on "Honor Killers", it is NOT Islamic (In the sense it is NOT in the Koran) but derived from older Arabic traditions. You will hear Islamic Fundamentalist advocate such "Honor Killers", and stress some part of the Koran to justify it (For example using Adultery as a violation of the Ten Commandments to include ANY sex outside of Marriage, even if the woman is RAPED) but that does NOT make it a rule of that Religion (And given that Mohammad demanded that you have to have FOUR wittinesses to an act of Adultery for a woman to be found guilty of Adultery, how can a family do an "Honor Killing" and still be Islamic is hard justify under the Koran).

Thus "Honor Killing" is NOT the produce to organized Religion but the older traditions of the Middle East.
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Matilda Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jul-23-04 09:29 AM
Response to Reply #11
13. Honor killings are forbidden under sharia law,
but are deeply embedded in the culture of many Islamic countries,
and too often men who take the law into their own hands get off
with very light punishment.

An excellent and unemotional explanation here at Wikipedia:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Honor_killing


What is disturbing is that the spread of Islam to western countries
through migration is resulting in a number of Muslim communities
in the west demanding the right to set up Islamic courts which would
operate outside the law of the country in question. While this may
be unlikely, I do think that the law in the west must be tough on
any instances of such things as female circumcision or honor
killings, and it needs to be made very clear to anyone practising
these customs that western countries will have zero tolerance.
Sometimes I think we can be just a little to sensitive about
offending people of other cultures, which in general is good, but not
in instances of practices which are really quite medieval by our
standards. I have no problem with Muslim girls wearing the hijab -
I think that if the concept of male "ownership" of women can be
overturned, then Muslim women will gradually acquire the freedom to
make their own choices without fear of retribution, but it will only
happen if western countries take a tough stand against some of the
more barbaric practices of Arab cultures. As it is not a part of
sharia law, there is really no question of offending against another
religion.

In Islamic countries, reform can only be brought about by women in
positions of power working to change community thinking, and there
we have to careful to encourage but not to interfere - something
that in the past we have not been very good at doing.
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happyslug Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jul-23-04 12:02 PM
Response to Reply #13
17. Very True
Edited on Fri Jul-23-04 12:03 PM by happyslug
Given that two of the traditional ways to interpret Islam came through two women, Fatima the daughter of Mohammad (Whose Husband Ali is regarded as the founder of Shiite Islam, Shiite is roughly translated into English as "The Party of Ali".)

A second big source are the Hadiths. The Hadiths are sayings of Mohammad that were written down about 150 years after his death. This was part of the formation of the Sunni branch of Islam. One of sources of these sayings is Mohammad's youngest and favorite wife, Alisha.

Now Alisha and Ali had a falling out early in their relationship (Mohammad had asked Ali what should he do about the accusation that Alisha had committed adultery when she was 14, Ali said if she had done so she should be put to death as was the tradition of their time, Mohammad decided that to convict a person of Adultery you need four Witnesses and thus cleared Alisha).

While Alisha did NOT form the Sunni branch of Islam, she was opposed to Ali all of her life (Through toward the end of her life Alisha ended up supporting him over other other claimants to be Caliph, i.e. successor to the Prophet Mohammad). Her hadith are among the hadith (sayings of the Prophet) that are treated as a strong second source of Islam, second to the Koran (through the Koran is held is much higher esteem than are the hadith, some of which may NOT even be from Mohammad).



http://infoabcd.com/koran/ch/ch24.htm
http://infoabcd.com/koran /
Some background on the Koran and the time he was written:
http://www.thespiritofislam.com/books/imk /

Hadiths:
http://tariq.bitshop.com/simplyIslam/hadith.htm
http://www.iqra.net/Hadith/index.php
http://www.my-ecoach.com/online/webresourcelist.php?rli...

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msmolybdenum Donating Member (2 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jul-23-04 09:21 AM
Response to Reply #9
12. maybe i'm blind....
or hallucinating. Isn't that a universal religious icon you display as you advocate the destruction of all organized religion. If I am being dense here i apologize. enlighten me.
--Thanks,
Msmolybdenum
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wackywill Donating Member (98 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jul-27-04 07:58 AM
Response to Reply #12
22. you're correct
however it just appears as if by magic. I didn't pick it to display. I guess I just get very frustrated by stuff like this. I often wonder where are the humans in this world.
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JerseygirlCT Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jul-27-04 08:24 AM
Response to Reply #9
23. I think, with all respect, that you're being both naive and ill-informed
religion is whatever people make of it. People take religion and pervert it for their own use. It's not the religion that's at fault -- its' the people.

In this instance, this isn't about religion at all -- nothing in the Koran insists women be abused like this. It's all cultural, and then given a quick religion paint job... It remains about men being afraid of women, and needing to control them. The men, the culture that allows this is at fault -- not Islam.

Likewise in this country, Christianity has been perverted by hatred -- of women, of gays, of anyone who doesn't fall into lockstep with some rather Johnny-come-lately versions (perversions?) of Christianity. Fred Phelps may be one of the most visible and egregious examples, but this brand of cultural bigotry is all over -- and covered up in a thin veneer of "Christianity" to make it all acceptable.

Organized religion has been used for a great deal of good in the world, too. It's just that when used properly, you don't tend to hear as much about it, because the truly faithful have no need to blow their own horn.
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bleedingheart Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jul-23-04 07:18 AM
Response to Original message
10. I read the article and came to the conclusion that the women
in Iraq are screwed. However I find it odd that women in oppressed countries don't eventually wise up and start teaching their sons to respect women and so on and so on...and then one day all the jerks are dead from old age and the generations to follow don't think killing their sisters over premarital sex is okay.

Also what I find funny is that Shaima probably has customers who would kill their own sisters for sleeping with a man other than their husband.....ah the contradictions.
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yardwork Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jul-23-04 11:47 PM
Response to Reply #10
21. It's not that simple. Individuals who try to resist get killed.
Murderous behavior is common in all human societies that are under stress, no matter what their religion or culture. It's a sign of how psychologically stressed people are living under these oppressive regimes. The insanity of their daily lives translates into insane behavior. In most of the middle east the wealth is concentrated in the hands of a very few dictators. There is little opportunity for democratic input like we take for granted in the United States (or did).

What will the children living in Iraq grow up to become? They are being severely traumatized on a daily basis. They will grow up with wounded personalities that reflect their upbringing. We can expect to see a lot more violence in Iraq's future.
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Bowline Donating Member (670 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jul-23-04 09:31 AM
Response to Original message
14. This is all too common in Middle Eastern and some Asian societies.
Barbaric, but common. I'm sure they're comfortable that their god told them it is OK though.
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Matilda Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jul-23-04 10:44 AM
Response to Reply #14
15. Not their God - their men.
n/t
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happyslug Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jul-23-04 11:20 AM
Response to Reply #15
16. In Some Cultures, their men are their god.
And even in the Western World I have seen non-religious women submit totally to their man and worship the ground he stands or stood on (look at Nancy Reagan and her attitude to Ronald Reagan).

In some ways such loyalty is instinctive, woman want to belong to a man in the sense that a man will take care of her so she can take care of her children. Societies have used this instinct to justify staying out of the marriage (or any other pair bond ) relationship even if it is harmful to one of the parties to that relationship (Mostly women but I am trying to stay sex-neutral when I can). Thus you have this "man" worship by women (and some such man worship in EVERY SOCIETY).

Religion can be used to justify this but the instinct is deeper than just religion.
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bleedingheart Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jul-23-04 12:05 PM
Response to Reply #16
18. not in my house...I am the QUEEN
cuz when mama's unhappy...everyone else is...

:evilgrin:

The sad fact is that some women do "worship" their husbands here and they are also the ones who don't look out for themselves because they assume that their "man" is watching out for them...and then when they end up divorced with 3 kids and the husband has a camaro and a new gal....they have that deer in the headlights look.

It happens in the reverse as well but it isn't as common because of the issues you stated...

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happyslug Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jul-23-04 12:26 PM
Response to Reply #18
19. Or a widow owing the IRS a lot of money
Had a client like that today, owes the IRS a thousands of Dollars because her Husband did not pay the IRS. I gave her the IRS forms to ask for a wavier of the amount on the grounds she was an innocent spouse but it will be up to the IRS to give the wavier to her. She trusted her husband and he ripped off everybody.
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Matilda Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jul-23-04 11:22 PM
Response to Reply #16
20. I know what you're saying. Laura Bush is definitely in this category!
Nancy Reagan, from what I have read about her, is a different
category - the "power behind the throne" type. Women who have
more brains, and probably more balls, than their husbands, but
because of the patriarchal nature of their society, or perhaps
a psychological conflict within themselves, don't feel free to
pursue the kind of power they'd like for themselves, but groom
their man to do it for them. They look up to their man as the
vehicle that carries their own power-drive, and need them as
much as the totally subservient woman does, but they are the ones
really in the driver's seat. They make the bullets and load the
gun, but all the public sees is the man who does the firing while
she stands by adoringly.
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daleo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jul-27-04 11:31 AM
Response to Original message
24. Honor killings happen in the west too
We just don't call them that. When a man murders his wife or girlfriend because of suspicion of adultery, or because she threatens to leave him, this could easily be interpreted as an honor killing. Although courts don't allow this kind of defense any longer, it was not so long ago that the law was different (e.g. finding one's wife in bed with another man was a defense for murder). Many people in the west would still go along with this line of reasoning.

Also, there is a case right now of a book about an honor killing in Jordan, published in Australia, that has turned out to be a fabrication. We can't believe everything we read, and there is obviously an agenda to dehumanize people in the middle east by some sectors of our media and opinion shaping machinery.

Not that I am justifying honor killings in the middle east, just mentioning some cautions when reading about other countries.
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