yet another honor killing…

A Pakistani man, Chaudhry Rashid, in Atlanta murdered his 25 year old daughter this weekend and had his first court appearance today. Deemed an ‘honor killing’, this story is unfortunately not unique.

What always confuses me about stories on “honor killings” is that every case of domestic violence that leads to death (which happens all too often), when committed by a MUSLIM man is deemed an “honor killing”. This case seems to be similar to situations that occur SO often in non-Muslim communities that never get the tiniest bit of public attention. However, as soon as a Muslim man commits an act of violence, it is used to perpetuate the ideas that Muslim men are oppressive towards Muslim women. That being said, I was surprised to see the inclusion of the quotes from Ajay Nair at the end of the piece. It was refreshing to see someone say that honor killings are just another form of domestic violence and that violence occurs across race/class/religious boundaries.

While I think that it is EXTREMELY important to recognize that this is not merely a Muslim issue, Mr. Nair’s insinuations that this is an anomaly in South Asian communities concerned me…why can’t we accept that this is happening in our communities? It is actually NOT rare at all. In fact, Muslim women are experiencing violence at the hands of the people that are supposed to nurture and care for them every day.

Unfortunately, because of the way the Muslim community has been set up (to make all men look like terrorists, crazy people, and perpetrators of “honor killings” and all women look like timid, submissive, brainwashed children) it is no surprise that there is a certain feeling of defensiveness, like that of Mr. Nair’s, when talking about behavior such as Chaudhry Rashid’s. The fact of the matter is that he killed his daughter – and while the media is trying to make domestic violence seem like both a specifically Muslim issue, and simultaneously like not such a big deal at all, we need to be establishing a community where we can come together under the common idea that violence does in fact occur in our communities, that we have a responsibility to confront it, and that as a community we can hold perpetrators accountable without having to make all Muslim men seem violent.

  • I need my Sisters, where are You?

    It’s like reading two extremes in one article; the ones that claim yet another “honour killing” and the ones that deny the situation even after it happens “this is an anomaly”. Will there ever be a golden middle? I agree with you that the community is being defensive because of the onslaught of negative media etc, but before this onslaught there was this superficial arrogance among some groups. Some of these groups would constantly sing the same old tune “Muslim women were given rights 1400 years before any others blah blah blah” or “We don’t need to worry we have the Quran and they don’t etc” blah blah. An overconfidence that these issues don’t happen in our backyard because we’re Muslims, “we need to be establishing a community where we can come together under the common idea that violence does in fact occur in our communities, that we have a responsibility to confront it, and that as a community we can hold perpetrators accountable without having to make all Muslim men seem violent.” Right now, we do need that!!!!!!!!!!!! But accountability and justice are unfamiliar words in our communities, especially in our native developing countries. I guess I’m having a bad day.

  • Solace

    In the community I live in the attitude towards domestic violence is basically that the man has the right to act out because it his nature to be violent and aggressive. This is the mindset and this is how the they raise their children. Girls should not set their husbands off, they should obey him at all cost. If there is violence, the wife is the cause of it since she did not listen to her husband. Boys, on the other hand, are raised with the idea that they are entitled to act violent and aggressive when things don’t go their way because they are supposed to be the man of the house and what they say goes.A lot of this is based on the wrong interpretation of Quran and hadith.How can this mindset be changed? Education? Even so, definite change won’t be easy and probably not for some generations to come.

  • Zeynab

    Solace, I think reinterpretation of these texts and education are the answer. But, like you say, change isn’t an overnight thing, but rather a generational thing.

  • Dude

    What always confuses me about stories on “honor killings” is that every case of domestic violence that leads to death (which happens all too often), when committed by a MUSLIM man is deemed an “honor killing”.Indeed. You linked to Aqsa Pervez. Her situation is not clear – it’s labeled as an honor killing – even though other female members of the household don’t cover their hair. So I’ll ask: On what basis are you referring to it as an honor killing?

  • fatima

    hey dude (ha)you are right. i realized after the fact that even i had unintentionally described the event as an honor killing in the subject heading for the post. clearly, it is hard to catch these deep-seated ideas even in my own rhetoric. in general, i would refer to honor killings as murders that are specifically to publicly show that a family did not tolerate some sort of “out of line” behavior that a female member of their family committed…to rid themselves of the shame attached to the woman’s actions. i think its obviously a sub-category of domestic violence but not ALL muslim dv cases are honor killings…if that makes sense. i also do not think that honor killings are exclusive to muslim families.this website has updates on honor killings that happen all over the world…it is interesting to see what THEY consider honor killings.

  • fatima

    “i need my sisters…”,i totally get your frustrations…but i hope you know that the muslim community is not the only one facing these issues…all tight-knit communities, especially immigrant populations and ethnic/religious minorities are dealing with the same crap…its so so SO hard.i think our anger and disappointment are actually a good start to making changes…do you have any ideas about stuff you would like to do regarding anti-violence…even if its just telling some misogynistic asshole off?i ask because i think for minority communities, traditional methods of addressing violence just won’t work….we need to think of creative, culturally-sensitive ways to address these issues and i think those ideas are going to come from us…the angry and frustrated muslim feminists who care deeply about ending violence.

  • I need my Sisters, where are You?

    Fatima thank you for your suggestions, it lifted my spirits. I thought I was the only one feeling this way. I will soon be volunteering in a women centre but I noticed that not many women of visible minority use the resources available because of language barriers or lack of information. Insh’allah in the future we will work towards having a gigantic Muslim women resource centre (Inclusive to all women) that will have female personnel, information, and power that will be adept at finding solutions to problems. OHHH I can’t wait and I thought I was the only one. Thank you for your source of support, there really is strength in numbers and we need it so badly to function effectively.

  • Forsoothsayer

    while i don’t think that all incidents of domestic violence involving Muslims are honour killings, it is true that women are not being killed because of honour related reasons by any other communities I’ve heard of. I’m not saying it’s Islamically sanctioned, but it is happening.i wonder what my own dad would do if he found out one of 100 things. it could involve violence i guess. middle eastern society is bad like that, muslim or christian.

  • R. Layla Terman

    Your blog always impresses me with its nuance and well-thought-out commentary.This entry in particular made me want to comment because I just issued an alert here: (http://stop-stoning.org/node/207) for the Campaign I am working on. When my colleagues and I were looking for articles on this, we were hard pressed to find something that did not essentialize Islam while still reflecting the weight of this tragedy.Honor killings do not, indeed, occur in just Muslim contexts. “Crimes of Passion”, “Spousal killings”, all honor killings by other names and in other cultures.Hopefully we have soon develop a more profound debate on honour killing both in the general media and in the Muslim community.P.S. Thanks for listing our campaign on one of your blog posts!-Rochellestop-stoning.org

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