I finished two books; one called “Murder in the Name of Honor”, about so-called “honor killings”. This refers to the murder of women by their relatives for perceived violations of the family “honor”, which the author wryly notes is apparently dependent entirely on the sexual status of the females of the family…not their accomplishments or yours. That’s a heavy burden to bear.
Technically speaking, honor violations fall into two categories: adultery–having sex with another man while you are married to someone else, and fornication–having sex without being married at all. The latter includes being raped. Sometimes the killing is based on rumor, or a behavior that indicates you may have or might in the future engage in inappropriate sex, such as not covering your hair. Notice that I earlier said “having sex with another man”. While last I checked, it takes two for adultery and fornication, the man is considered blameless. Men would be, I quote, “good on their own” if not seduced and tempted by women.
It’s a hard book to read. The writer, a Jordanian journalist, deliberately includes the names of a number of victims to personalize the issue. It’s hard to read for a number of reasons, including the methods used. The most common seems to be burning alive. Then there is stabbing, shooting, strangling, throwing out of windows, and running over with a vehicle.
What I found interesting was the journalist’s perspective. She’s passionately committed to the issue and has had her life threatened frequently. She’s committed to changing the law so that the penalty for “honor” killing is the same as murder, which is not the case in those countries where it’s most prevalent. But she falters when she says that “honor” killing is not a Muslim or Middle Eastern custom; it happens in many other countries. Then every example she gives is an immigrant community of Muslims in another country.
It offends her that we might think all Muslim men are like this. No, really. We know better. We also know that it’s against Islam. But, there is something there….which she fails to explain adequately, or maybe is too scared to.
She comments that the U.K. was the first Western country to begin to recognize the phenomenon, but were reluctant interfere, so to speak, out of a misguided senstivity not to overreact after 9/11. That’s changed. Now you kill somebody in the U.K., the hell with your cultural differences. Go U.K.
The second book I read was “The Politician”, by Andrew Young. Young was the aide to Senator John Edwards who actually went so far as to claim that Rielle Hunter’s baby was his. Rielle Hunter being Edwards’ mistress. You know, the one he had while running for President while his wife had metastatic breast cancer? Edwards himself is the stuff of Greek tragedy. I read it more to answer my question about Young, which was, “What were you thinking?” Turns out, he’s the stuff of Greek tragedy as well. Every time I put the book down, I wanted to wash my hands. (Out, out, damned spot!)
This week I plan to escape into a little fiction. I can’t take any more of this real-life stuff. Between work, and the Tea Party, and the oil spill, and a man who seems to want to hurt my feelings…I’ve had it. I’m building a cocoon.