This a feature for my University module, ‘International Journalism’. Ideally I would like to write for publications such as ‘Company’ and ‘Grazia’.
For the majority of the western world, the term honour killing is somewhat unheard of. Having now become a global crisis, women across the world have been threatened or even killed in most cases, often by their parents or family relatives, for bringing dishonor upon their families.
This use of dishonour is usually known as refusing to marry an arranged partner, speaking to another man in the community or in most cases becoming too ‘westernized’. These crimes tend to happen in Asian and Middle Eastern backgrounds and have now spread to the UK.
In 2010 one of the first and most horrendous honour crimes to be recorded was in Ankara, Turkey’s capital. The body of sixteen year old girl Medine Memi, was found buried in her back garden. The girl’s father and grandfather were arrested in relation to the crime but later released and awaiting trial. The young girl’s father has gone onto say at the time, “She has male friends. We are uneasy about that.”
Medine’s mother said her daughter had reported on several occasions to the police that she was a victim of domestic violence, but unfortunately sent home from the station with no help in hand.
In certain cases forgetting the family pressures and religious beliefs, women have also started committing themselves to these values as well, following in the footsteps of men. It saddens the future of the female population. Women must stand together and fight these causes.
This is just one of the severe cases of honour Crimes. Unreported World, the channel four documentary programme said three honour killings are recorded a week in Istanbul Turkey, while most probably more crimes are happening, they have often found that some won’t be dealt with due to the act not being seen as a crime in the first place.
UK police have revealed on the BBC website that the numbers have risen since 2009. Police recorded 2823 supposed attacks last year which included acid attacks, genital mutilation, abductions and in most cases resulting in Murder. Diana Nammi, the director of the IKWRO – Iranian, Kurdish women’s right organization said to the BBC news this week, “The perpetrators will be even considered as a hero within the community because he is the one defending the family and community’s honour and reputation.”
In recent years many human rights activists have set up women’s refuges and charities in aid of helping ladies who are victims of domestic violence and physical abuse. Chris Crowstaff, founder of Safe World for Women feels very strongly on the current issues that keep repeating themselves. “I set up our organization three years ago because I believe very strongly in the power of women coming together, from different backgrounds and cultures. I also believe that the mainstream media perpetuates so many damaging stereotypes – and I am very keen to break down stereotypes.”
Safe World for Women is a virtual organization that mainly focuses on the online support. Chris says that majority of the volunteers at the organization are from different countries. “We partner with grassroots organizations – our Field Partners – to help to raise their profile via our website. Our aim is that we should help funders and private donors to be able to more easily identify credible grassroots organizations that would benefit from more funding.”
Chris mentioned that the nature of the work doesn’t always grant her access to travel very much. Her previous work has sent her working with women’s groups in Uganda, Israel and Jordan in 2009.
The organization is working hard towards preserving the rights to stop women getting stoned in Afghanistan in support of the charity Young women for change (YWC). “This includes a campaign to stop stoning in Afghanistan, a poster competition to raise awareness about violence against women in general in Afghanistan, and raising awareness through the social media about the situation of Gulnaz who was recently released from prison – following a campaign in which YWC were very much involved. Gulnaz was imprisoned after being raped (the charge was adultery – because apparently she didn’t report the rape soon enough.”
When Gulnaz was raped, she was sentenced to twelve years imprisonment and pregnant from the awful ordeal. Gulnaz was released just a few days ago and forced to marry her rapist. Chris says, “A representative from YWC went to see her on Saturday to help her to make a more informed choice and to offer her emotional support. YWC and other NGOs are advocating for her to get asylum overseas. The rapist’s sister has been urged to marry Gulnaz’s brother, also as a way of preserving ‘honour’.”
Chris revealed that the European Union financed a film featuring Gulnaz and her situation however later withdrawing from the project because of political reasons and claiming that Gulnaz didn’t want to speak of her sentence, Gulnaz denied these claims and wanted her cause to be widely known.
Many organizations and charities alike are trying to improve the education system for young women. Chris spoke on the current situation, “In a word – ‘yes’! In fact, there needs to be an education system. In many Asian countries, there is still a huge proportion of girls and women who are uneducated and not just Asia of course.”
The public interest can also help promote equal rights for women, Chris goes onto say “Online volunteers – almost all our work is online and we are always in need of more volunteers. Also I am a strong believer in the social media – so spreading the word on the social media. And any contacts in the mainstream media are of course always welcome too.”
With special thanks to Chris Crowstaff for all her help at – SAFE WORLD for Women organization.