CNN FAIL on Honor Killing Coverage

This past week a woman was murdered in an apparent honor killing in the Gaza Strip. She was beaten by her father who thought she was having an affair. May Allah have mercy on the soul and forgive the sins of the woman, named Fadia, and may there also be justice for her death.

Unfortunately, CNN’s coverage of Fadia’s murder was a big FAIL. The first reason was the picture accompanying the piece. The article didn’t even need a picture, but if the editors felt that they needed a picture to accompany the article, why not have a picture of the victim or one of the women interviewed for the piece? Instead, the editors and/or the author felt it was better to put up an AFP/Getty Images file photo of two Palestinian women walking in a mall with the caption “Palestinian Muslim women walk past a shop displaying Western clothes in Gaza City.” What does this have to do with the article? There is absolutely no relevance to the subject matter at all. Is the picture supposed to relay some subconscious message that shopping for Western clothes will help Palestinian women? Maybe shopping in malls prevents honor killings? The photo is bizarre and out of place for an article dealing with honor killings. It actually makes light of a very grave and tragic issue.

The second reason why the article doesn’t convey the seriousness of the matter is because they refer to honor killings as “killings”:

“They said the killing ‘was carried out on grounds related to ‘preserving’ the honor of the family.’”

“The Palestinian Center for Human Rights said nine people have been killed in honor crimes in 2009, five of them women.

This represents a two-fold increase from 2008 in such killings.”

“The killing highlights fears among human rights organizations about an increasing marginalization of women’s rights in Gaza under the Hamas-controlled government.” (emphasis added)

Each time a murder committed in the name of “honor” is referred to as a killing, it glosses over the brutality of the murder. These are not women who were killed in the line of duty or killed by a bus on the way to work. These are women who died as a result of someone intentionally murdering them. Referring to these murders as killings also insinuates that the murdering of women is somehow more normal, more part of Palestinian culture.

Lastly, I was disappointed with the association of Hamas to this issue. The article jumps from a discussion of honor killings to a discussion of the erosion of women’s rights under the Hamas regime. Women’s rights under Hamas is definitely an issue that needs to be talked about, but I don’t see how that issue is connected to honor killings. Honor killings are also carried out in areas under secular rule, such as the West Bank and Jordan. Honor killings are not connected to “radical Islamic movements” any more than they are connected to secular movements. Misogyny is the root cause of honor killings, not Islamic movements.

CNN’s article serves as more of a lesson in how not to cover this sensitive issue than an informative piece of a tragic murder that is the result of misogynistic views of women, their sexuality, and its place in society.

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