Wednesday, 30 April 2008

Where is the "honour" in any killing?

An Iraqi teenage girl has been brutally murdered by her father in an "honour killing" after she fell in love with a British soldier in Basra. She had fallen for the soldier that she knew only as Paul, when she met him at a charity where she worked as a volunteer. Her father was arrested, but Iraqi police took no action. His wife has since left him and is in hiding.

The MOD have suggested that the case raises questions about the training given to British forces in understanding cultural values in a city where 47 women died in "honour killings" last year. Of course, we are appalled and disgusted - but does this also raise the question (again) of what are Britain and the USA achieving in Iraq?
Where is the honour in death and maiming due to war - be it soldiers, civilians, or in this case due to a family matter (possibly the western intervention a factor)
I woke up with this in my head this morning , so am sharing it here:

Sixteen Seasons

Seventeen Springtimes you have seen
when new shoots pushed through barren soil
and grew despite the heat and dust
where plans are made and women toil
to raise their young to grow in love
to find their own way in this life
and learn despite the pain and strife.

Seventeen Summers I watched the moon
rise in yours eyes then bless your sleep.
I stroked your raven, silken hair.
As if from harm this would you keep
from darkness in the world. And hate
would never cross your path to reap
the fear that’s strong and hidden deep.

Seventeen Autumns passed with you,
so beautiful at work or rest..
I thanked the God that brought you here
Each noon and night and day was blessed.
Till those who try to change our lives
Brought peace to us from their western world
and flags of freedom flew unfurled.

Now Winter you will not have here
And I will never touch your face.
What “honour” this, what father’s love
that takes you from your rightful place.
When Allah Akhbar is the call
does Allah feel a mother’s pain
and honour in this life remain?

3 comments:

Ellen said...

Lexia, thank you for blogging about this.

Dishonor killings are pre-Islamic. They occur even in countries that are at peace. I don't think the war in Iraq is responsible for the state of affairs for girls and women in the region. It was bad before Saddam, it was bad during Saddam's rule, and it remains bad.

According to other accounts of this, the girl had a chaste crush on Paul. It's not even known whether Paul knew about it.

In some ways, if you are a young girl in the region, there is only so much you can do to protect yourself. These crimes occur for the lamest of reasons, some of them having nothing to do with supposed family honor. Sometimes they have to do with inheritance, money, not being able to afford to feed a large family, no reason at all. And then "honor" is used as the excuse because the laws of some of the countries where such crimes occur tend to favor the perpetrators in "honor" killings cases.

I'm not excusing this. . .far from it. Like you, I find all killing horrid. But I don't think it's entirely fair to blame Paul or to correlate the war in Iraq with dishonor killings.

Ellen R. Sheeley, Author
"Reclaiming Honor in Jordan"

Lexia said...

Thanks ellen,
I do not blame Paul AT ALL, and am sorry if my piece came across that way. Also I am not correlating these killings with the war in Iraq - I was questioning the fact of British soldiers being there at all.
I am very interested in the title of your book and hope to read it soon.

Lexia said...

Thanks ellen,
I do not blame Paul AT ALL, and am sorry if my piece came across that way. Also I am not correlating these killings with the war in Iraq - I was questioning the fact of British soldiers being there at all.
I am very interested in the title of your book and hope to read it soon.