by Asma Marwan: from the Bulletin of the Oppression of Women
Allah Bachaya has surrendered himself to Rohilanwali [Pakistan] police after killing his sister in the name of honour but he is confident that he will be released in a matter of days. Bachaya gave his arrest on Saturday after killing Alina in an axe attack for alleged loose morals.
He told The Express Tribune that he was certain his brother-in-law would withdraw the case as it was a matter of family’s honour. “I have killed her because she brought disgrace to the family’s name,” Bachaya said.
“She had become a nuisance. I feel no remorse over my actions. I am backed by the family. They were in favour of my decision to kill her,” he said.
Alina, 25, was married to Muhammad Akhtar. The couple had three children. Akhtar, who is the complainant in the FIR against Bachaya, told The Tribune that while he had filed a complaint in the matter he might withdraw it in a few days. “I believe he (Bachaya) has not done wrong. Nothing is above honour,” he said.
Honor killings are much in the news lately. Muslims claim that honor killings are not Islamic, that permission for honor killing is not in their doctrine. This is true. However, since the majority of honor killings are committed in Islamic households, we must ask the question does Islam doctrine contribute to the cultural and ethic beliefs that are at work in the shame and blame culture of the Mid-East.?
The answer is resoundingly, Yes. Ali Sina, an expert on Islamic doctrine says, “. . . you can say honor killing is cultural, but it is a culture that is deeply rooted in Islamic mindset and derives from it. It is practiced in all Islamic countries. The more religious is a country, the more is widespread the honor killing.
The doctrine of Islam contains a heavy dose of gender inequality that follows from its sources, the Koran and the Sunnah (words and deeds of Mohammed) found in the Hadith and Sira, and in the Sharia laws which are derived from these sources. Men can have four wives, women can have only one husband; wives can be beaten for disobeying their husbands; women are inferior to men. Women are, for the most part, seen as chattel, a commodity men have the right to use for their own pleasure. Women have few civil rights, and they are viewed as second class citizens. In the Koran, 33.33, women are asked to “stay quietly in your houses and make not a dazzling display.”
According to Ali Sina, http://www.faithfreedom.org/oped/sina50128.htm “Women in Islam are regarded as sources of shame. Mohammed said they are awrah which can be translated as object of shame.” He goes on to say: “What is awrah? The Encyclopedia of Islam defines ‘awrah’ as pudendum, that is the external genitals, especially of the female. (2) Pudendum derives from the Latin pudor which means sense of shame and modesty. So awrah signifys an object of shame that needs to be covered.” [ . . .]
“If a woman loses her awrah by eg.,through rape, she becomes the object of shame for her family and the only way to remove that shame and restore the honor is to remove that defiled woman. So you can say honor killing is cultural, but it is a culture that is deeply rooted in Islamic mindset and derives from it. [ . . .]
But you don’t have to be raped to become an exposed awrah and bring shame to your family. If you disobey your father who has consented that you marry a certain person you dishonor him. If you escape from your home for any reason including abuse, you have brought shame to your family and you could be haunted by your own brothers or even your mother and killed. If you reject a suitor, his pride can be injured and he may feel the urge to throw acid at your face to avenge and restore his honor.
Phyllis Chesler, emerita professor of psychology and women’s studies at the Richmond College of the City University of New York, published a study on honor killings in the Middle East Quarterly titled “World Wide Trends in Honor Killings” that gives an in-depth overview of this crime with facts and stats. Ms. Chesler, married to an Afghan man and held captive in Afghanistan, managed to escape back to the USA where she has worked tirelessly to educate women about the lack of gender equality in Islam.
Chesler has also written an article “Are Honor Killings Simply Domestic Violence?” where she definitively establishes that they are not the same.
Here is an excerpt from the article which was written in 2009.
The United Nations Population Fund estimates that 5,000 women are killed each year for dishonoring their families. This may be an underestimate. Aamir Latif, a correspondent for the Islamist website Islam Online who writes frequently on the issue, reported that in 2007 in the Punjab province of Pakistan alone, there were 1,261 honor murders. The Aurat Foundation, a Pakistani nongovernmental organization focusing on women’s empowerment, found that the rate of honor killings was on track to be in the hundreds in 2008.
There are very few studies of honor killing, however, as the motivation for such killings is cleansing alleged dishonor and the families do not wish to bring further attention to their shame, so do not cooperate with researchers. Often, they deny honor crimes completely and say the victim simply went missing or committed suicide. Nevertheless, honor crimes are increasingly visible in the media. Police, politicians, and feminist activists in Europe and in some Muslim countries are beginning to treat them as a serious social problem. Willingness to address the problem of honor killing, however, does not extend to many Muslim advocacy groups in North America. The well-publicized denials of U.S.-based advocacy groups are ironic given the debate in the Middle East. While the religious establishment in Jordan, for example, says that honor killing is a relic of pre-Islamic Arab culture, Muslim Brotherhood groups in Jordan have publicly disagreed to argue the Islamic religious imperative to protect honor.
Hopefully, you can understand better the pressure and stress that Muslim women live under.
And if there is shame involved in these murders, it’s shame on those of us in the West who ignore or deny that these crimes are perpetrated on women in this progressive, modern world. And shame on women who call themselves feminists who do not take a stand against these heinous crimes against their sisters in humanity.
Bill Warner, Director, Center for the Study of Political Islam
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