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  • ‘Honor’ killings, sexual abuse and cultural alienation

    Posted by Ralf Goergens on October 8th, 2005 (All posts by )

    Earlier this year, a young Turkish woman was killed by her brother, to ‘restore the family’s honor’. As it recently turned out during the trial of the 19-year-old boy, she had been raped by a family member five years before her killing:

    He said he was deeply unhappy and that he could only be happy were he to free himself from an old burden. Something terrible had happened in his family when he was 14, he said, something involving his sister. Ayhan apparently told Melek [his former girlfriend - RG] that if she knew what he had been through and witnessed, she would understand hy he had to do something his older brothers should have done years ago: kill Hatin.

    Investigators now believe that Hatin was once raped by one of the men in her family. She was a victim of incest, and under her community’s crude code of honor it was not the rapist but the victim who should be held responsible.

    It is generally the case that many victims of ‘honor’ killings had previously been victims of sexual and/or physical violence. Not that it were surprising, the sexual abuse often is, directly or indirectly, the motive for the killing. Directly if family members feel that the abuse itself is an unbearable stain on their honor, or indirectly, if the abuse makes the victim flee her family, again besmirching the family’s honor, so …

    Sexual abuse in immigrant families also happens more often than in German families, for the authorities usually have no clue what is going on in them, and fathers, uncles, brothers etc take advantage of that. That has nothing to do with them being immigrants or for that matter Muslims per se, but it is a simple fact of life that some people will abuse the power they have over dependents, if they don’t have to fear punishment. The longterm solution would be to integrate immigrants more closely into our society, but currently multicultural doctrine is getting into the way of that. Right now it is still generally considered taboo to demand that German culture should be dominant in Germany. This also means that policies in regard to immigrants are short-sighted and counterproductive. For example, it currently isn’t possible to make successfully concluded German language lessons a precondition for welfare benefits. Immigrants living among people from the same country in a kind of ghetto therefore have no incentive to overcome their phlegm and finally learn German. Some do so voluntarily, but not nearly enough of them. Many live for decades in this country, without ever getting around to it, with obvious consequences – their ability to find work is very limited, they are unable to help their children in school or get ahead in in general, and getting back to my original point, they are stuck in a way of living that remains opaque to the outside world, putting them and/or their children at the mercy of family members, co-religionists, or whoever else might want to harm them.

    To be sure, the political climate is changing gradually, and multiculturalism has begun to fall out of favor, but it will be a while yet until the roots of the problem can be effectively attacked. In the meantime tragedies like the one described above will remain all too common.

     

    14 Responses to “‘Honor’ killings, sexual abuse and cultural alienation”

    1. sammler Says:

      What would be the response if a basic knowledge of German (or, in Britain, English) were required as a precondition for receiving government benefits after a grace period of, say, three months?

    2. lunacy Says:

      There are two statements in the above post that spark my curiousity.

      1)It is generally the case that many victims of ‘honor’ killings had previously been victims of sexual and/or physical violence.

      2) Sexual abuse in immigrant families also happens more often than in German families,

      How do you know these things?

      Granted, it seems quite plausible. But it also seems those statements are so damning that you might include some attribution to the source of such knowledge. I’ve never read anything of the sort regarding incest and honor killings. Have I read that incest may be a factor in some? Yes. That incest is GENERALLY a factor in all? No.

      I would appreciate some confirmation.

      Lunacy

    3. Ralf Goergens Says:

      Sammler:

      I would expect widespread and vehement protests, enough so that it wouldn’t be politically feadible to go through with it. It will take time till enough people are wiling to accept that the problem does exist in the first place.

      lunacy,

      rereading the sentence I have to admit that I used a bit clumsy formulation. Instead of ‘generally the case that many victims’ I should have written that ‘many victims of honor killings had previously been victims of sexual abuse’, for that was what I really meant.

      Even so I don’t see that the statement is more damning than the factual statement that honor killings happen within immigrant families. Consider the circumstances: A young woman is murdered by one or more members of her family. Don’t you think that it is more likely that sexual abuse will occur in such a family, than in a families where young women aren’t murdered?

      I also said that sexual abuse is more common in cases where the perpetrator faces a lesser risk of punishment, which is the case in immigrant families; I didn’t say that it is due to ethnicity.

      As to statistics: Violent crime is commited by immigrants and asylum seekers in about 30 % of all cases (the chart on the lower left), while this group makes up about 9 % of the population. (8,89% to be exact).

    4. lunacy Says:

      Thanks Ralf.

      Now I am the one with clumsy language.

      Indeed, honor killing is damning enough. I did’nt think you meant ethnicity was an issue.

      But you still don’t answer the question of how you know even “many victims” of honor killing were previously victims of incest or sexual abuse.

      Do I think it likely? Do I think people are more likely to violate someone or something if there are no repercussions? Sure. Do I think dysfunctional behavior eminates from dysfunctional families? Absolutely.

      But whether I think it and whether you know it are two different things.

      When I say, in discussion, that victims of honor killing could be victims of incest, it would be good to be able to say so without it being pure speculation or supposition.

      Even the case in the story you linked, hasn’t convinced me that the poor Turkish woman was a victim of incest. It is strongly implied by one 2nd hand witness. But that’s not enough to say it is so.

      I don’t want to be argumentative. I really want to know if you’ve read something that supports what you’ve written.

      Lunacy

    5. Jake Says:

      Most women who are suicide bombers on the Gaza strip are victims of a sexual predator and are given the choice of a quick death by a bomb or a slow death by stoning.

    6. Ralf Goergens Says:

      I didn’t see it as argumentative either, and am not argumentative myself. :)

      I had posted the statistical numbers above, and according to this PDF file foreign nationals in Berlin (where an especially high number of Muslims live) the fraction of sexual crimes commited by foreigners is about 40 %. I do have to admit, though, that the concrete number of how many victims of honor killings had been previously sexually abused seems almost impossible to come by. I have read reports that this or that victim had been abused, but there is a high number of unreported cases, for several reasons:

      police and prosecutors are much more interested in the killings than sexual abuse
      -the abuse in question is hard to prove, for the victim is dead, and usually the whole family had been involved in the killing, so they aren’t all that eager to implicate themselves, or to finger a co-conspirator

      - Sexual abuse is an absolute taboo among Muslims, so everybody is keeps their mouths shut for that reason alone

      But still: As the statistics show, a much higher proportion of sexual crimes is committed by foreign nationals, so that the number of sexual crimes within their families should be higher than in German ones by about the same factor.

    7. Ralf Goergens Says:

      Most women who are suicide bombers on the Gaza strip are victims of a sexual predator and are given the choice of a quick death by a bomb or a slow death by stoning.

      Sounds plausible, thanks.

    8. claude Says:

      That has nothing to do with them being immigrants or for that matter Muslims per se,

      Bullshit.

    9. mrbill Says:

      ….nothing to do with Muslim etc…

      Oh? Do you have a large amount of native German “honor” killings. We dont have a lot of American “honor” killings here. And as the other poster state….BS. It IS due to Islam.

    10. Ralf Goergens Says:

      Oh? Do you have a large amount of native German “honor” killings. We dont have a lot of American “honor” killings here. And as the other poster state….BS. It IS due to Islam.

      I meant the sexual abuse, not the honor killings.

    11. Diggs Says:

      While honor killings are common in islamic communities, the need for such is based on older, tribal, arabic traditions that predate islam. So it is correct to say that honor killings really don’t have much to do with the immigrants being islamic, but instead, more to do with them being from arabic countries, or countries where tribal arabic influences are strong. Islamic influences, at least as we feel them now in the modern world, tend more towards the very public use of personally carried and detonated explosives where complete strangers are viable targets.

    12. king jack Says:

      Diggs:

      Honor killings occur in Afghanistan and Pakistan, which are Islamic (and variously tribal) but are NOT Arabic. Tribal Islamism, whether in Arabia or Indonesia, is pretty much the antithesis of Western Enlightenment. With the possible exception of Cindy Sheehan.

    13. rabidfox Says:

      Another argument against the “It’s tribal and not Islamic” argument is what happened in Jordan. The Jordanian king is fairly liberal and tried to get tougher sentencing through to curb the “honor” killings. It was the Imams that led the outrage against that reform.

    14. A Scott Crawford Says:

      I doubt that muslims coined the term, “shotgun wedding”…

      It’s probably a mistake to try to tie middle eastern style “honor killing” together with incest together with immigrant ghettos where German either isn’t spoken or is spoken poorly. Mainly because each issue is a reasonable concern by itself, but is weakened when unnecessarily and vaguely lumped with the others.

      1. Your point regarding the policy of lumping immigrants in welfare ghettos is probably primary. Many of the same social problems were observed of Jewish ghettos last century, which suggests that ghetto life, rather than race or religion or region, causes more problems than it solves.

      2. It’s reasonable for Germans to expect migrants to obey German laws. This includes the legal age that distinguishes a child from a consenting adult, and affording women rights they might not possess elsewhere. In Germany, the definition of “rape” does not make exceptions for husbands, etc. In Rome, do as the Romans do, but Berlin isn’t Rome.

      3. When one in ten Germans is out of work, it makes little sense to support unskilled foreign immigrants at the public expense. If there were a labor shortage, this might be understandable, but this isn’t the case.

      4. etc.

      It’s easy to fall into the trap of allowing legitimate social or migrant concerns to be misused by demagogues from either the Left or the Right to stir up trouble. The best way to avoid this is to resist mixing social problems that aren’t necessarily and demonstrably related. This is especially important in Germany where history muddies these types of issues.