A naked shoulder is more of a stain on your family’s honour than killing your own flesh and blood; is that really how it goes?
One can only hope that Qandeel quietly inspired enough women and enlightened enough men to quicken the gradual erosion of the chatteldom to which so many women in this world are subjected to.
The tyranny under which they live will, inevitably, fade away until nothing is left other than the impotent fury of the diehard internet misogynists, who rage against progress from the sidelines while the world moves on without them.
Unfortunately it won’t happen in any of our lifetimes, but happen it will.
It’s high time we stop referring to these murders as “Honour Killings”, they’re not, they’re murder pure and simple. So stop pandering to these people by using the word honour to give their action some kind of legitimacy.
This is the climate of opinion which facilitates “honour” violence, the extent of which is apparently much under-reported.
Of course this is cultural, and conspiratorial.
Dressing up the murder and physical punishment of women as just being a cultural issue is cowardly at best and criminal at worst. So-called ‘honour’ crimes are obscurantist and barbaric and they have no place in western societies, ANY society. Yet at the same time have a cursory look on social media .
There are dozens of “respected” Muslim commentators attacking the likes of Maajid Nawaz for raising the issues surrounding this horrid murder. They think HE is the problem, and not the culture that murdered her.
I’m afraid to say that notions of ‘honour’ or ‘shame’ are part of the picture. Among other things, ‘shame’ and ‘honour’ are useful concepts for alerting us to two important factors. First, there is an important dimension of ‘visibility’. When something shameful becomes ‘visible’ outside the family and to the broader community, it catalyses the perceived need to resort to extreme measures to ‘contain’ this. (It is a similar dialectic between containment to avoid visibility which is connected, so my girlfriend has explained to me, to mental health problems among some Asian women). Second, the acts of individuals are experienced as a kind of familial shame: i.e. the acts of one are felt to profoundly disturb the identity and perception of their group.
Yes, the fact of these honour killings should not be used to tar entire communities – and, I stress, the programme had relevant examples of ‘honour’ crimes from Kurdish, Pakistani and Sikh communities. Some of the relevant dynamics (avoiding shame, the communal experience of ‘sexual sin’ etc.) are not exclusive to these communities.
But when it is specific cultural dynamics which generate some of this horrific violence and, equally importantly, have obstructed prevention and investigation then it could be argued that not thinking about certain kinds of cultural specificity seems rather short-sighted.
All attacks and murders and abuse of women is nothing but the man exerting power and dominance over a woman to ensure he maintains that power.
‘Wife-bashing’ and attacks by men upon women is something that was widespread in past British society and still happens in the British Isles today even though the crime has been legislated against by successive governments. It still goes on because in a lot of instances the police fail to take complaints seriously and in doing so help the perpetrator get away with the crime. Just as rape in a marriage is no longer accepted so should domestic violence be prosecuted as vigorously.
You can go back to the writings of Charles Dickens’ and the relationship between Bill Sykes and Nancy and her eventual murder in Oliver Twist to recognise that violence by men against women is prevalent in our society .Many reasons are used to justify it and all of them are wrong and just that: justification for the actions of the perpetrator.
Calling a murder or a cowardly attack on a woman as an ‘honour killing’ is not going to erase the crime, it’s just a weak justification for a murder or crime of violence. A judge is no more bound to accept the reason for that crime than he or she is to accept the pleas of a paedophile who pleads ‘I can’t help it I love children’. It’s wrong, it’s unlawful and should be punished by the courts and punished heavily. It does not matter where the perpetrator comes from as all should be punished equally.
We have responsibilities in how we speak about these things given that they can be co-opted. For some, these killings become part of a narrative about immigration or ‘multiculturalism’ (or whatever your bugbear is) as the abomination of desolation. Clearly this is a sensitive area.
What we say must be disciplined by accuracy (i.e. not overwhelmed by the overspill of a desire to break the perceived silence) and by awareness of the consequences if a potentially inflammatory issue. (This last point is, in part, practical: there is little point alienating members of the communities which have the greatest sway in changing attitudes and practices, especially when they abhor these practices as much as anyone else).
For example, some see this as a Muslim issue. When multiple Imams and perhaps an embassy or two unreservedly condemned the murder perpetrated by in the name of so-called honour, I take them at their word. I think that using analytical concepts like “honour”, “shame” or even izzat is a useful way to point to culturally specific dynamics in a way which doesn’t (inaccurately) associate these as essential dynamics of any imagined homogenous group such as “Muslims” etc. (The ignorance of cultural differences between Muslims from different countries and regions, to mention nothing of class, localities etc within countries, is sometimes astonishing).
These are terms which are relevant to understanding dynamics within different ethnic and religious groups: indeed, izzat is a complicated, mutable concept which you can find used – and contested – in different ways by Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims in North India and Pakistan.
By this same token, I think the regressive-left feminist argument is that culture doesn’t kill women, men kill women. How can we possibly reduce these attacks if we don’t recognise the cultural and religious dimension?
I have deep admiration for this courageous woman and utter contempt for those pygmies who laughed at her, belittled her and ultimately murdered her. She will be remembered long after those perverted ideas and those who hold them are dust. In her own way she refused to be owned or controlled and that’s why she was killed. I hope the media watches this case closely to see her murderer is punished not forgiven and that other less celebrated so called “honour” killings are shamed and punished for the evil misogynist murders they are.
Likening her to Kim Kardashian is wrong. She was not a titillating commodity fetish but an artist working on one of the main edges of our time. I imagine she was a person of great courage and intelligence.
In the short term, I really wish the media would stop referring to them as honour killings. How about calling them senseless murder?