Sometimes being in the business of writing about women’s rights is a difficult spot to be in, especially when you read news like this – “Turkish girl, 16, buried alive for talking to boys.”
Police found the girl, Medine Memi’s, body in a two-metre-deep hole in a chicken pen outside her house after receiving an anonymous tip that the girl was buried alive in an “honor killing” after a family “council” meeting.
In “honor killings,” like in Memi’s case, a family member is murdered by other family members who believe the victim has brought such dishonor to their family that they deserve to die.
In Memi’s case the dishonorable offense was talking to boys.
The 16-year-old was found buried in a sitting position with her hands tied after she’d been reported missing by her family for over a month. A post mortem report revealed significant amounts of soil in her lungs and stomach, indicating that she was buried alive.
“The autopsy result is blood-curdling. According to our findings, the girl — who had no bruises on her body and no sign of narcotics or poison in her blood — was alive and fully conscious when she was buried,” one anonymous expert said.
The girl’s father and grandfather have been arrested and jailed as they await a trial over her killing. In his testimony, the father is reported to have said that the family was unhappy she had male friends. Her grandfather is also said to have previously beaten her for having relations with the opposite sex.
How do you make sense of something like this – a young girl being buried alive by her own family for something as simple as talking to boys? Imagine being in a position where you don’t even have the power to decide who to talk or what friends you can make, simply because you are a woman.
For other women dressing improperly, infidelity, pre-marital sex, divorce, choosing to marry by your own choice, being raped, or even failing to serve a meal on time can be seen as bringing shame and dishonor to a family and are punishable by death.
Sadly, Memi is not alone. According to official figures, more than 200 “honor killings” take place in Turkey every year – that’s about half of all murders in the country.
Turkey is not the only offending country. According to reports submitted to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, “honor killings” have occurred in Bangladesh, Great Britain, Brazil, Ecuador, Egypt, India, Israel, Italy, Jordan, Pakistan, Morocco, Sweden, and Uganda.
Deeply embedded attitudes of male privilege and women’s subordinate social status drive “honor killings” in these countries where women continue to struggle for equality and suffer from violence at the hands of their own male relatives.
Know let me ask this: How does murdering another family member in cold blood not bring dishonor to a family?
Photo copyright: HO/REUTERS, http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/feb/04/girl-buried-alive-turkey