In the Name of Family Honor: Girl Buried Alive For Talking to Boys

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,


Allison C.
Allison C.6 years ago

I hope they're convicted and are fed to hungry sharks, rabit rats and have their eyeballs eaten out by maggots while they're still alive- there is no excuse for what they did and the only deserving punishment is a long, drawn out, torturous one.

Sheri P.
Sheri P6 years ago

I recall reading about this some time ago and I'm sure I commented then but I must comment again. This is heinous and atrocious and I cannot stomach stories of this nature. A girl buried alive for being friends with boys in the name of "family honor"? What about this is associated with HONOR? It may be acceptable and accepted in some culture other than mine but I think it's offensive and horrific. I disagree with it completely. I am saddened that that poor girl lost her life for being friends with boys.

kerick walters
Past Member 7 years ago

Mabolsa Ritchie,did you even read what I wrote or take it out of context? because I believe nobody has the right to destroy another peoples culture and or moral values, because it stands in opposition to their own? they tried hiding what they were doing, making it not something of their cultural heritage but that they knew they did something wrong. why call someone stupid because they have a differing oppinion than yours? when if you read what i wrote it really makes what you say about me unfounded.

Mabolsa Ritchie
Mabolsa Ritchie7 years ago

@kerick walters

Have you any idea how stupid that view is? That we should refrain from criticising cultures we don't understand? Not all cultures are equal, but it IS clearly wrong to murder and even worse when it is one of your own children. Especially for such a trivial reason.

You are even stooping so low as to make excuses for them by saying that they reported it because they knew it was wrong, insinuating that somehow this shows that they are good people. They did not report what had been done, they reported her missing to cover their own backs! How stupid can you be!! Read the story! There was an anonymous tip off.

This kind of barbaric activity can and should ALWAYS be criticisied because it is just plain wrong! I don't give a toss about the sensitivities of ignorant retards who consider this to be proper and acceptable behaviour. If we don't speak out against these things they will continue to happen. If we do, there's just a chance that they wil eventually stop over time.

Low B.
low beng kiat7 years ago


Low B.
low beng kiat7 years ago

may the girl rest in peace

Megan Vladoiu
Megan V7 years ago

I am shocked by some of the countries that this takes place in. (I mean, obviously I am horrified that it happens at all, but you can see it happening in some places more than other.) This is awful and needs to end.

alicia m.
alicia m7 years ago

"honor" killings are dreadful! I saw on TV that when a family "lost honor" their neighbours do not spoke to them and this family is condemned to total ostracism until the family restores its "honor" (by murder).Even innocent girls go to prison in order to escape death. I cannot understand these societies and people...
Sorry if these things have been already noted (I could not read all the previosly comments!)

Moertl M.
Martha M8 years ago

To kerrick Walters : We protect our garden, our car our TV set and so on and we should not protect human beings because of sick traditions created be men to have power over weaker beings like women or children. Fortunately there were also men who fought against cruel stupidity in the past.

kerick walters
Past Member 8 years ago

for me this is a tough issue. we speak of Women"s rights, human rights, all kinds of rights for we are born into a society that is culturally and morally concerned with these issues.To attack a culture, society who's morals and traditions conflict with our interpretation of a violation of rights I would be 100% against. However, the family called and reported the young girl as missing, knowing that what they did was against the law and therefore guilty of committing what we consider a terrible inexcusable crime. we have to be careful that in our pursuit to protect what we view as rights we are not violating the right of another people having laws and customs we might not agree with. should we be subject to the laws and customs of Syria? or any other people because they view us immoral? In this case I without hesitation agree with you.