Join 3,374 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


The gravestone is rough shale; nothing is written, as if she isn't here, lying at the foot of a mountain thick with snow.
March 26, 2010 11:24 AM   Subscribe

An unwilling Afghan bride's defiance leads to death. 'Frashta didn't want to marry her cousin, and she fled. In a land where tradition and family honor are everything, that sealed her doom. "So beautiful that no words could describe her face," said her uncle. A child of the provinces can never run far. She should have known this. Frashta, though, was headstrong. Two shots from a hunting rifle in the night, then they rolled her in cloth and tried to hide her, but some things cannot be hidden. She was found in the yard. "A bad woman," said the cop.

"She didn't like Abdul's family. She said Abdul was addicted to hash and beat her often," Dal said. "She kept telling me this. During those three months she lived with us, she and I would talk about how to solve this problem. She kept saying: 'I can't marry my cousin. If my mother gives me away to anyone else, I will marry him, but not my cousin.' "

Her refrain was challenging the heart of tradition, in which rural Muslim women accept what is expected of them and bear their grievances quietly. Sometimes poverty is the deciding factor.
posted by VikingSword (63 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
Depressingly, see also previously: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
posted by MuffinMan at 11:37 AM on March 26, 2010


Sometimes the world is a harsh and ugly place and we're all a bit poorer for it. May your rest be peaceful Frashta, you've earned it.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:38 AM on March 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Also, it's still weird to my ears when I go to places where they have different traditions on marriages to hear the term "love marriage" as if there should really be any other sort.
posted by MuffinMan at 11:45 AM on March 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


It's painful to think about how long it's going to be before such events, and such cultural prisons, become a true thing of the past. I refuse to believe it's never going to happen, but I can still see these stories being repeated a century from now.

It's unfortunate that so many people, all over the world, are bogged down with violent traditions.
posted by Tequila Mockingbird at 11:46 AM on March 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


. . . . . . . . . . . . . .
posted by Iteki at 11:47 AM on March 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


How many other regions in the world are bogged down with the "tradition" of "honor killings"? I know it's common all over the Middle East (e.g., Soraya M., etc.). Anywhere else?
posted by yiftach at 11:50 AM on March 26, 2010


Why would they try to hide the body if this is considered an acceptable way to deal with a "defiant" woman? If you fully believe what you're doing is right, wouldn't you just do the deed and walk away? Only people who are ashamed of what they do try to hide it.
posted by spicynuts at 11:52 AM on March 26, 2010 [6 favorites]


I need reminders like this of how petty my frustrations are.

.
posted by Pragmatica at 11:53 AM on March 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


I don't.
posted by swift at 11:58 AM on March 26, 2010 [10 favorites]


yiftach: "How many other regions in the world are bogged down with the "tradition" of "honor killings"? I know it's common all over the Middle East (e.g., Soraya M., etc.). Anywhere else?"

Wikipedia has an entry on the subject it seems, with a few more regions.
posted by Tequila Mockingbird at 11:59 AM on March 26, 2010


.

In the heart of this is a really sad story. But the telling of it leaves me somewhat confused. I'm not sure how to parse sentences like:
"...then they rolled her in cloth and tried to hide her, but some things cannot be hidden" and "I thought maybe she had escaped, but then we saw her lying on the ground, covered by a cloth."
I'm not trying to be pedantic or find flaws in the story, I'm just pointing out that this is one example (of a few, I felt) that demonstrates a bit of emotional/cognitive dissonance I feel in reading this article. I read the first sentence and think, "oh, wow, sad. Big coverup here. What's the underlying motivation? Why can't some things be hidden? Where does that foreshadowing lead?" And then we get to the end of the story and she's lying in the yard. It sounds like she was discovered right after she was shot. No hiding.

other examples:
"A child of the provinces can never run far. She should have known this. Frashta, though, was headstrong. Two shots..."
...run far? Metaphorically? Literally? Hyperbole? And she should have known this...what does that mean? Also, 'heastrong. Two shots..." Ugh.
"A bad woman," said the cop.
"So beautiful that no words could describe her face," said her uncle.
These quotes are so out of context, it's completely baffling. What are we supposed to think of the cop here? Of the uncle? Is he the father of the cousin she was supposed to marry? What are we to make of all that? Why this quote? And why all the references to her beauty?

Other things that strike me odd:
"What would end her life began when she was a few months old."
Isn't that sort of like, oh, a sealed fate? And what does "...sealed her doom" even mean? Was it sealed when she decided she didn't want to marry her cousin (as the sub-title suggests)? Or when she was a few months old?
"...delivering Tor Baz to Frashta for the couple's first night together. Doors and shutters closed.

Trouble quickly followed. Frashta's stepfather and grandmother, who had arranged the marriage, told police that Frashta had a secret life. They said that 45 days after the wedding..."
This really makes it sound like the trouble followed that night of the wedding. But we find out in the next sentence that at some undisclosed time after the wedding (presumably at least 46 days), the 'trouble' is that Frashta ran off with a shopkeeper (45 days after the 'doors and shutters closed').

I realize this is nitpicky, but it all sorts to add up to, "I don't know when to take this author literally or not." In sum, the writing of this really trips me up. There is a real story there, a real tragic one. It doesn't need to be dressed up in ominous hyperbole, and it could use a few more linear details and less contradictory stuff.
posted by iamkimiam at 12:06 PM on March 26, 2010 [23 favorites]


How many other regions in the world are bogged down with the "tradition" of "honor killings"? I know it's common all over the Middle East.

"Common" is a very debatable word; it's certainly not something that occurs in equal proportion "all over" the Middle East. It happens across much of the Indian subcontinent and neighboring areas, into the Caucausus, rural China, South America, both Sahran and sub-Saharan Africa and many other places. (It wasn't even that unusual in Europe until relatively recent times.) It's widely considered to be more common amongst people who are / were recently nomadic and from isolated (especially mountainous) areas, and seems to occur more frequently in times and places where / when "traditional" culture is suddenly faced with "modern" culture.
posted by Dee Xtrovert at 12:10 PM on March 26, 2010 [1 favorite]



.
posted by julie_of_the_jungle at 12:12 PM on March 26, 2010


I agree with iamkimiam. This story is inconsistent.
posted by anniecat at 12:26 PM on March 26, 2010


.

Also, it's still weird to my ears when I go to places where they have different traditions on marriages to hear the term "love marriage" as if there should really be any other sort

Poor Frashta wasn't even asking for love in her marriage, only not to be married to someone who was an addict, who beat her and who was for all intents and purposes a brother to her.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 12:41 PM on March 26, 2010


How many other regions in the world are bogged down with the "tradition" of "honor killings"?

Given that most murder victims of domestic violence are killed by partners when they try to leave, I'd say first world countries has a fair number as well, just under a different name.

To be sure, society as a whole doesn't approve, but you sure see a lot of "Why didn't she leave?" victim blaming... which, in the end, is still just another "how she deserved it" phrased differently.
posted by yeloson at 12:45 PM on March 26, 2010 [7 favorites]


The story is not inconsistent, but the writing is indeed obtuse in several places, which can easily lead to misunderstanding. The problem with arranged/forced marriages in Afghanistan (and elsewhere) is not a new one - indeed, it's been featured on MF many times, as MuffinMan linked. I just found the story of Frashta to be noteworthy in that she was someone who rebelled and yet had so very little to show for it, with the inevitable seeming ending. It is perhaps a common tragedy by some measures, but a touching story nonetheless.
posted by VikingSword at 12:46 PM on March 26, 2010


....and, I find that this is how these stories usually end:

Her great-uncle Agha, her grandmother's brother, confessed. "I killed her. She dishonored the family," he told the police. Agha, her grandmother and two other women were arrested and are awaiting trial.

two other women. Who? Why? How come every honor killing story I see in the newspaper has one confessed killer arrested (father/uncle/brother) and three women in jail?
posted by dabitch at 12:59 PM on March 26, 2010


I realize this is nitpicky, but it all sorts to add up to, "I don't know when to take this author literally or not."

Some writers are just not good at what they do.
posted by delmoi at 1:02 PM on March 26, 2010


Yeah, confusing stories don't need poetic phrasings, they need cold, hard sentences full of clarity and fact. A poor article.
posted by Bookhouse at 1:18 PM on March 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


yeloson: Given that most murder victims of domestic violence are killed by partners when they try to leave, I'd say first world countries has a fair number as well, just under a different name.

To be sure, society as a whole doesn't approve, but you sure see a lot of "Why didn't she leave?" victim blaming... which, in the end, is still just another "how she deserved it" phrased differently.


That's a pretty big 'to-be-sure'. Someone who faces the threat of honor violence from her family will not get peace even if the father or husband is jailed for the beatings and death threats, when there may be tens of other male relatives just as ready to punish her 'dishonoring the family'. This is a critical difference from the sort of domestic violence typically seen in the West, and maybe some people don't care to think through that distinction but to the victim it can mean the difference between freedom and a hopeless, endless nightmare.
posted by Anything at 1:18 PM on March 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


The problem with arranged/forced marriages in Afghanistan (and elsewhere) is not a new one - indeed, it's been featured on MF many times, as MuffinMan linked.

The problem isn't arranged marriages per se, it's the poor regard that certain societies hold for their women. I have lived or spent lots of time in cultures with love marriages (like America), cultures with something like love marriages but some controls foisted on couples by family and other factors (like my native country of Bosnia) and cultures where marriages might be for love, arranged at an appropriate time or arranged from birth (Indian and Romani cultures.) I'm far too Westernized and attuned to certain customs to fall for anything but love, but I know many "arranged" couples and they have many of the most ecstatically joyful and stable relationships I've witnessed. I'm hesitant to compare "happiness," because cultural values of happiness can vary greatly, but there have been many studies and polls which point to arranged marriages being longer-lasting and more harmonious than love marriages.
posted by Dee Xtrovert at 1:27 PM on March 26, 2010 [6 favorites]


Well, I think problems exist when the line is crossed from arranged to forced. They are not the same. And the position of the woman in a given society is indeed a key factor, though it must be mentioned that the arrangements can have many other factors - economic, religious and sometimes even political - and so you can see sometimes complaints from the male in the arranged marriage, where he also may feel himself to be subordinate to other considerations. Therefore, I think the biggest thing here is personal choice - when that is taken away, from a man or (overwhelmingly) a woman, the arranged marriage can shade into a forced marriage, which is the case here, and in my (Western) mind, a clear negative.
posted by VikingSword at 1:39 PM on March 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


Given that most murder victims of domestic violence are killed by partners when they try to leave, I'd say first world countries has a fair number [of honor killings] as well, just under a different name.

No, yeloson, that is entirely wrong.

An honor killing is carried out to restore the honor of the family (in view of the perpetrators). The woman must be killed, or else the family is dishonored. There are often family meetings in which, sometimes after rational deliberation, the woman is basically sentenced to death. This is different from domestic violence scenarios -- those are more about teaching someone a lesson, hurt feelings or simple lunacy. Domestic violence certainly isn't about restoring honor.
posted by sour cream at 1:40 PM on March 26, 2010 [5 favorites]


What. The. Fuck.

I'm all for respecting other cultures, but drugging, raping, then murdering a girl makes me want to kill somebody with my bare hands. Seriously messed up people here.
posted by LordSludge at 1:45 PM on March 26, 2010


The more I think about this story, the more infuriated I get. It isn't all about the writing, I realize (although, yeah, see above). And this story isn't even really about the killing of a woman.

We walk away with all sorts of new information and value judgments that have been impressed upon us through the framing, the timeline, the selection of quotes. We 'learn' about what police enforcement is like there. The expectations of family. Ideas about tradition. Notions of good and bad. Morality. Cultural ideals. Culture. Beauty. Education. Duty. Work. Law. Women's rights.

Attitudes and judgments about all these things and more are in there. One very narrow slice. Frashta against the harsh world.* And done through the lens of American journalism. What the media thinks is compelling for us to see and know.

THAT is why it's so important to get it right. You don't let stuff go to press like that. It's irresponsible and damaging.

.

*Absolutely no disrespect to Frashta, her family, her loved ones.
posted by iamkimiam at 1:53 PM on March 26, 2010


there have been many studies and polls which point to arranged marriages being longer-lasting and more harmonious than love marriages.
posted by Dee Xtrovert at 1:27 PM on March 26


Ah, yes, the true joy of cultural brainwashing and low expectations!
posted by Optimus Chyme at 2:11 PM on March 26, 2010 [3 favorites]


How come every honor killing story I see in the newspaper has one confessed killer arrested (father/uncle/brother) and three women in jail?

The other women (grandmothers, mothers, sisters of victims) lure the victims out of hiding, sometimes under the pretext of a family emergency ("your sister is dying!"), sometimes with false offers of sanctuary or that all is forgiven, to a place where the male family member can conveniently kill the victim. So the arrested women are accessories to the murder, relatives of the victim who betrayed her.
posted by orthogonality at 2:11 PM on March 26, 2010


I'm all for respecting other cultures,

Some cultures don't merit any respect.
posted by Kraftmatic Adjustable Cheese at 2:29 PM on March 26, 2010 [3 favorites]


I'm deeply suspicious of stories like this. It's certainly horrible, certainly a tragedy, and certainly a fucked up situation, but it also isn't something uncommon or confined to "other places."

A lazy search brings up this statistic:
In 2000, 1,247 women and 440 men [in the United States] were killed by an intimate partner. In recent years, an intimate partner killed approximately 33% of female murder victims and 4% of male murder victims.
In other words, women get killed in the US all the time by intimate partners, and likely over stupider shit (just in the sense that DV is so often completely non-sensical) then not agreeing to marry someone. The rhetorical moves of locating it in another culture and highlighting what is in essence an adjectival difference ("honor killing"), turn this into a different type of story than it really is. And makes it strangely dishonest to boot.

I'm not suggesting that the story not be told, but I think the high pathos of the thing is a bit dishonest, and newspapers should maybe spend some time paying attention to what goes on around here. As it stands, these stories are a lot like "Missing White girl" stories.
posted by OmieWise at 2:29 PM on March 26, 2010 [3 favorites]


OmieWise, isn't being killed in the heat of the moment by an intimate partner different than being killed by premeditated plan of your elder relatives, your parents and uncles?

In our culture, we don't generally congratulate killers of intimate partners on doing the right thing, or ostracize them for not doing it.
posted by orthogonality at 2:34 PM on March 26, 2010 [8 favorites]


In our culture, we don't generally congratulate killers of intimate partners on doing the right thing, or ostracize them for not doing it.

Yes, there are some differences. I'm just not convinced that they're all that important. I'm also not sure that we don't congratulate, or didn't congratulate, "keeping our woman in line." I'd agree that it isn't as prevalent a sentiment as it was, but I think that for quite a long time in the US domestic violence was basically condoned by inaction. The changes have been relatively recent, and given the continued prevalence of domestic violence, still incomplete.
posted by OmieWise at 2:47 PM on March 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


If there was a silver lining to this tragedy, someone is being prosecuted and that's better than how most of these stories ends. Word gets out you can get the death penalty for this, maybe fewer crazy uncles are going to resolve these problems with a 30-30.
posted by MiltonRandKalman at 2:55 PM on March 26, 2010


OmieWise, isn't being killed in the heat of the moment by an intimate partner different than being killed by premeditated plan of your elder relatives, your parents and uncles?

I'm not OmieWise, but as someone who was trained and worked for a domestic violence shelter for a while, I'm gonna say that "being killed in the heat of the moment" isn't really an accurate description for intimate partner killings in the United States. Maybe sometimes, sure, but not all or even most of the time.

The most dangerous time for a woman in an abusive relationship is after she's left. I mean, come on: how many local news stories have you read about a woman (occasionally with her kids, which is even more heartbreaking) that were killed by an estranged husband or ex-boyfriend? I'd wager the ratio of those types of stories to ones where someone is beaten to death or killed by an abusive partner that they're still living with is at least 2:1, at least in metro section of the WaPo.

The different responses that killers get is a legitimate point to raise, but in the end the women are still dead, so I guess I think it's a distinction without a difference.
posted by iminurmefi at 2:55 PM on March 26, 2010 [6 favorites]


isn't being killed in the heat of the moment by an intimate partner different than being killed by premeditated plan of your elder relatives, your parents and uncles?

Notwithstanding iminurmefi's excellent "heat of the moment" clarification, I think distinction is that the former is called murder and the latter called an honor killing. In my view, there is a large distinction between an estranged husband/boyfriend committing murder and a brother or cousin conducting an execution in the name of family honor.

Also I think the problem is not the low value that these backward societies place on women, rather it is the inordinately high value these cultures place on men.
posted by three blind mice at 3:29 PM on March 26, 2010


Respect for cultural traditions is all very well for languages, food, style of dress, and for the direction and speed with which one ought wave one's arms to implore the great Nothing to coddle oneself and smite one's enemies, but there is a clear and definite line to be drawn for tolerance: the line of actual harm.

Sir Charles Napier on the subject: "You say that it is your custom to burn widows. Very well. We also have a custom: When men burn a woman alive, we tie a rope around their necks, and we hang them. Build your funeral pyre; beside it, my carpenters will build a gallows. You may follow your custom. And then we will follow ours."
posted by aeschenkarnos at 4:05 PM on March 26, 2010 [16 favorites]


three blind mice Also I think the problem is not the low value that these backward societies place on women, rather it is the inordinately high value these cultures place on men.

Not at all. The lives of individual powerless men are just as devalued. The inordinately high value is placed on obedience. (And we do that too.)
posted by aeschenkarnos at 4:07 PM on March 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


The phrase "he needed killing" never more aptly described those who killed poor Frashta.
posted by bwg at 4:12 PM on March 26, 2010


The root of the problem is that women (and children) are seen as property. It's a problem in western culture, too, although to a much lesser extent. I believe that the failure to see women as anything other than the property of their fathers or male partners is the root of much domestic violence, incidences of stalking, and even street harassment.

(I was reading a novel today in which a character says that dogs are like family members, except that they're family that you won't get in trouble for killing. In Afghanistan, the women are the family dogs.)
posted by zinfandel at 4:53 PM on March 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


This is not a cultural problem, this is a religious one.
posted by pianomover at 5:06 PM on March 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


there have been many studies and polls which point to arranged marriages being longer-lasting and more harmonious than love marriages.
posted by Dee Xtrovert at 1:27 PM on March 26


That is true, and I too know people happy in arranged marriages.

The thing that has to be remembered here is that there is a world of difference between an arranged marriage and a forced marriage, you know that of course, but I see a few people in this thread are conflating them. In arranged marriages you still get to choose, and your family/the local matchmaker will try to find compatible candidates for you to choose from.

It's worth pointing out that even in countries where everyone marries at least nominally for love, the majority of people still end up with spouses from the same ethnic and socio-economic group.
posted by atrazine at 5:16 PM on March 26, 2010


This is not a cultural problem, this is a religious one.

You can't separate culture and religion so easily.
posted by atrazine at 5:18 PM on March 26, 2010


This is not a cultural problem, this is a religious one.

I think my anti-religion and atheist credentials are pretty solid, but I'm not a fan of attacking any religion based on inaccuracies. The primary factor in these tragedies is not religion - after all, there are Muslim countries where such things don't happen. The primary factor is cultural, though religion can definitely be part of a given culture.
posted by VikingSword at 5:18 PM on March 26, 2010


I'm drawing a blank here on which Muslim countries these sorts of things don't happen.

Same with trying to come up with a christian country that isn't trying to fight back at science.

And on and on.
posted by pianomover at 5:40 PM on March 26, 2010


Again, pianomover, I'm no fan of any religion, but fair is fair. The culture-religion link is far more nuanced:

"Religion remains an important part in many people’s lives, not least in those societies for ‘honour’ based violence. A majority (but by no means all) of current known cases arise in Muslim cultures or sub-cultures, leading some to conclude that there must be textual backing for the practice, and that therefore an ‘honour’ killing is a religiously mandated murder. Although some ‘honour’ killers do justify their crimes by their religion, many others act in the name of tribal, caste, class, nationalist or other identities. An ‘honour’ killing, seen as an act of vigilante murder, has no support in the key Islamic texts, and similar crimes have been recorded in Hindu, Sikh, Druze, Yezidi and some Christian societies.

‘Honour’ killings are not distinct practices, but the most extreme outcome of a system of social organization which asserts control over women and girls. Certain interpretations of religion are used to justify practices such as non-consensual and child marriage, the control of women’s behaviour, and the structure of the patriarchal family; these feed into the culture of ‘honour’ even where violence or killing is religiously proscribed. The growth in extreme forms of religious fundamentalism can be viewed as forming part of a backlash against women’s increasing demands for autonomy and human rights, and is in many cases accompanied by rises in violence against women including ‘honour’-based violence. Many potential reforms which would lead to women’s greater autonomy and freedom from violence are stymied through the political influence of groups which purport to represent religion."

posted by VikingSword at 5:49 PM on March 26, 2010 [4 favorites]


spicynuts: I doubt her killers felt they were trying to protect themselves from shame. I think they were probably trying to protect their victim's family from shame.
posted by wobh at 7:06 PM on March 26, 2010


I'm drawing a blank here on which Muslim countries these sorts of things don't happen.

You may just not know much about Muslim societies. Indonesia is the most populous Muslim country in the world, and I'm not aware of honor killings there. I don't know of any honor killings in Senegal, or Malaysia...The list could go on for quite a while. This is exactly why I think articles like this are kind of shitty.
posted by OmieWise at 7:14 PM on March 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


the political influence of groups which purport to represent religion

Purport to represent or represent is ultimately the same. All religions try to minimize the actions of their more fundamental or one might say better followers of their particular flavor, but one can't really pick and choose from a particular tract and expect all to follow in their wake.

The bible, koran what have you all have laws which most societies (cultures) have chosen to ignore, some though still remain the true believers.

That is why this will remain a religious problem and not a cultural one.
posted by pianomover at 7:16 PM on March 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


The bible, koran what have you all have laws which most societies (cultures) have chosen to ignore, some though still remain the true believers.

That is why this will remain a religious problem and not a cultural one.
--pianomover

No.

Honor killings were going on in the Middle East long before Islam came along. This is cultural, not religious. They are just using Islam as an excuse for this cultural tradition.
posted by eye of newt at 7:51 PM on March 26, 2010 [3 favorites]


Most people would rather blame a culture than a religion, because religion has supernatural fear surrounding it.
posted by Brian B. at 8:06 PM on March 26, 2010


This is not a cultural problem, this is a religious one.

That's just ignorance. In non-Muslim places "similar" in poverty, lack of opportunity, pre-religion traditions and other factors, mentioned above, such as nomadism and geographic isolation, honor killings and some other traditions the West would consider barbaric still exist, and in much of the Muslim world with better conditions, it simply doesn't occur.

I'm Muslim and from a country (Bosnia) with more Muslims than any other religious group. In my country, honor killings are unknown. It's worth noting that in Albania, another largely Muslim country where there is a history of honor killing (though sometimes in forms other than strictly those to prevent "shame" caused by disorderly women) that the practice has/had nothing to do with religion. This practice is/was based on the Kanun, an ancient set of behavorial "laws" which are strictly cultural and predate Islam's arrival there. The Kanun is/was often most bitterly opposed by devout Albanian Muslims than other segments of society.

I could go on and on and give other examples, but I've found that people who make highly generalized and uninformed statements either get it quickly or they never do.
posted by Dee Xtrovert at 8:06 PM on March 26, 2010 [8 favorites]


as if there should really be any other sort.

The idea of marrying for love being the only acceptable reason is a pretty recent and very Western one. For most of the world and for most of human history, marriage was nothing more than a contract between families.
posted by DecemberBoy at 8:37 PM on March 26, 2010


And before recorded history, the hypothesis is that it was just a way to proclaim ownership of a woman.
posted by DecemberBoy at 8:38 PM on March 26, 2010


There are often family meetings in which, sometimes after rational deliberation, the woman is basically sentenced to death. This is different from domestic violence scenarios -- those are more about teaching someone a lesson, hurt feelings or simple lunacy. Domestic violence certainly isn't about restoring honor.

I don't really see the difference between "cultural tradition that sees half the population as livestock that can be killed at will" and "teaching a woman a lesson by killing her for leaving your abusive ass."

This, actually, is one of the things that feminism tries to teach; although we love to look down on cultures where women have it so very bad, an astonishing number of women turn up battered, raped and/or dead here in the "enlightened" West, and of course, women still lag men in terms of wealth and status (how many women in Congress? Nowhere near the number in the population). Not because humans/men are irredeemable, but because poisonous ways of thinking about women are part of our culture, too.

I can't be married off against my will, but because of my special status as a Uterus American, I still don't get to make my own medical decisions without government intervention. And the reasons why the men who run my country think what I can do with my childbearing parts are their concern go all the way back to the days when our culture expressed such ideas more brutally by selling women's fertillity off to the highest bidder (or taking it by force). We are not far enough along yet to pat ourselves on the back about our enlightenment, not by a long shot.
posted by emjaybee at 10:22 PM on March 26, 2010 [4 favorites]


From CSS: - Muslim women could be the key to ending extremism. Muslim women are addressing issues in conflict zones.
posted by adamvasco at 2:08 AM on March 27, 2010


LordSludge: What. The. Fuck.

I'm all for respecting other cultures, but"


Kraftmatic Adjustable Cheese: "Some cultures don't merit any respect."

Damn. I just came home from a bar containing a group of gentlemen, who appeared to be regulars, boisterously talking about all the drunk but awesome pussy they had acquired the night before along with the coercive, manipulative, and questionably consenting lengths they went to get it. I see only precious few years of progress different between two cultures in which women have always been seen as objects to be acquired.

Patriarchy and entitlement to the bodies of others merit no respect while the cultural protections against the worst of its logical conclusions, which in this case dramatically failed, do. You'll notice that it was a grandmother who was in charge of managing the marriage, the authorities did not force her to return, and the great-uncle now faces the death penalty for murder. The answer to domestic violence like this, both in Afghanistan and here, is not less culture but more.

Watch where you put your jingoism
posted by Blasdelb at 1:04 PM on March 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


orthogonality: OmieWise, isn't being killed in the heat of the moment by an intimate partner different than being killed by premeditated plan of your elder relatives, your parents and uncles?
iminurmefi: I'm not OmieWise, but as someone who was trained and worked for a domestic violence shelter for a while, I'm gonna say that "being killed in the heat of the moment" isn't really an accurate description for intimate partner killings in the United States. Maybe sometimes, sure, but not all or even most of the time.

The most dangerous time for a woman in an abusive relationship is after she's left. I mean, come on: how many local news stories have you read about a woman (occasionally with her kids, which is even more heartbreaking) that were killed by an estranged husband or ex-boyfriend? I'd wager the ratio of those types of stories to ones where someone is beaten to death or killed by an abusive partner that they're still living with is at least 2:1, at least in metro section of the WaPo.

The different responses that killers get is a legitimate point to raise, but in the end the women are still dead, so I guess I think it's a distinction without a difference.
If a Western victim of domestic violence manages to overcome the psychological manipulation and the fear of threats, she has a lot more places to go for protection. Her own family is not out to have her raped and killed, our society funds shelters where she can stay, our legal system tends to act against the (usually lone) perpetrator, and if she decides to try to have a life outside the shelter or her parents' or friends' house, being a woman without a male protector does not make her eligible for rape.

In the report, the only hope the woman had of escaping her family was the shopkeeper, who then spent five months in prison for helping her.

I will not believe you really think there's no significant difference, because what that means is that all those Western women who have found freedom might as well just go die or live a life of rape. I hope you'll appreciate my not taking your words at face value.

There needs to be an Abolitionist movement against the culture of honor violence. Ending it in the Muslim ghettoes of Europe would be a good first step.
posted by Anything at 1:27 PM on March 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm Muslim and from a country (Bosnia) with more Muslims than any other religious group.

I think that Bosnia exists solely as a diplomatic solution to a religious problem.


honor killing (though sometimes in forms other than strictly those to prevent "shame" caused by disorderly women)


I love Metafilter, but I am surprised this one is sliding under the radar.
posted by pianomover at 2:12 PM on March 27, 2010


iminurmefi:

On review, I think you're saying two different things: a) 'The dead are dead so there's no difference' and b) 'Western women who are fleeing can also still get killed'.

What I was responding to was: c) 'Western women who are fleeing can also get killed so there's no difference', which you didn't actually say, and in that sense my alarm was unfounded. But a) is a tautology and a red herring, and I'm still confused about what exactly were you arguing with b), since you do sort of seem to imply that the status of women who wish to flee is similar in the two cultures.
posted by Anything at 2:30 PM on March 27, 2010


I think that Bosnia exists solely as a diplomatic solution to a religious problem.

Then you don't know what you're talking about at all. Bosnia is not a "Muslim" nation per se (though Muslims are its largest group) and never was a "diplomatic solution" to anything; its independence was recognized prior to any attempt at diplomatic solutions to regional problems. But your statement's irrelevant anyhow, as whether or not you believe it to be a legitimate country doesn't change anything about the fact that it's a Muslim society without honor killings.

honor killing (though sometimes in forms other than strictly those to prevent "shame" caused by disorderly women)

By this I meant that honor killings exist in forms which don't necessarily involve forced marriages or women. I assume most people who can interpret things must have understood this, hence the lack of commentary. Think the Hatfields and McCoys - those were honor killings, too.

additionally:

If a Western victim of domestic violence manages to overcome the psychological manipulation and the fear of threats, she has a lot more places to go for protection. Her own family is not out to have her raped and killed, our society funds shelters where she can stay, our legal system tends to act against the (usually lone) perpetrator, and if she decides to try to have a life outside the shelter or her parents' or friends' house, being a woman without a male protector does not make her eligible for rape.

This is partially true, but it ignores a lot of reality, too. Modern European and American history is full of incidents where the female victims of abuse had, essentially, nowhere to go. The commonly accepted notion that women should leave abusive situations and be offered sanctuary is a fairly new one, actually. I'm politically active in many causes which concern women (among other causes) and wouldn't ever attempt to justify any abuse, but I'm still rational enough to see beyond a lot of the self-righteous rhetoric to recognize that:

1) A lot of these honor killings and other mistreatments of women aren't really any different than what existed when the nations of the West were in a similar stage of cultural and societal development and relative affluence and opportunity. So to expect different outcomes simply because *you* have universal education and comfort is just stupid. Much of the world still exists in a ancient state, and it's not necessarily the fault of its people either. There are plenty of works which discuss the non-human reasons why some parts of the world have developed more rapidly than others - try "Guns, Germs And Steel."

2) Similarly, the family members who are involved in the perpetuation of these actions are victims too, and the oh-so-Western (especially American) need to display outrage and look for vengeance rarely seems to transcend common sense. You want things to change, Western world? Start putting butter before guns. America has the lowest per capita expenditure of non-military foreign aid . . . why does it seem like Americans are the most smug when it comes to how wrong the rest of the world is?

3) Many people here are comparing the system they know very well to *one small aspect* of another set of cultures. I've not seen anyone here discuss the fact that many societies with "honor crimes" often also have cures for the mistreatment of women that allow for protections and solutions that no one here seems to think exist. In many societies with arranged or forced marriages, mistreatment of the brides at any point in the marriage can allow for the return of bride to her family and onerous penalties paid by the husband's family - and corollary and permanent loss of honor by the man involved. This system may not be the best, you may consider it really wacky, and it does seem primitive, but in many ways it does work. It's not altogether different from how marriage functioned in Europe until relatively recent historical times.

I'm not defending this at all, just pointing out that these cultures are not nearly as one-sided as they are represented here. They are, quite often, fair more complex and balanced than is often thought. Would I want to live in one of these societies? No - but I wouldn't have wanted to live in medieval Europe, either. Yet somehow I don't feel the over-arching need to paint complex societies in simple black and white terms. In my experiences, doing so creates more victims than it saves.
posted by Dee Xtrovert at 6:14 PM on March 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Dee Xtrovert:

I absolutely do not speak out of an interest to gloat about how much better we are or out of an illusion that we have always been enlightened.

My one reason is this: We will not do what is necessary to help the victims if we delude ourselves into thinking that honor violence is no different from the kind of domestic violence we are familiar with in our own culture.

In Europe we need vastly more resources for shelters and other aid, especially if we ever decide to take up the sort of information campaigns about our laws and human rights that send a clear signal to everyone involved that the victims do not need to take the abuse and that we are willing and prepared to protect anyone who wishes to escape violence.

We are not doing this at the moment, not effectively, and that's how it will remain for as long as people are unaware of the gravity of the problem.
posted by Anything at 6:59 PM on March 27, 2010


This was on ABC recently.
posted by halonine at 9:19 PM on March 27, 2010


A wider context: Islam and Domestic Violence (wikipedia), and Namus (wikipedia).
posted by Brian B. at 10:08 PM on March 27, 2010


« Older I'm on a mission - not to praise Jesus or ensure t...  |  We've already seen seam carvin... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments