Honor killing: Muslim woman buried alive by her family, ‘Please brother, don’t kill me:’

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The numbers of honor killings are rising despite “increased awareness of the crime.” And why not? Honor killing and violence is in accordance with Islamic mores and tradition. Increased awareness would result in an increase in honor violence.

A recent survey showed that 91 percent of honor killings worldwide are committed by Muslims, and 84 percent of honor killings in the United States were done by Muslims. This is no surprise. A manual of Islamic law approved by Al-Azhar, the most respected authority in Sunni Islam, stipulates that “retaliation is obligatory…against anyone who kills a human being purely intentionally and without right.” However, “not subject to retaliation” is “a father or mother (or their fathers or mothers) for killing their offspring, or offspring’s offspring.” In other words, Islamic law sets no penalty for a parent who kills his child. Also, the legal codes of Jordan, Syria, and other Muslim countries have substantially reduced penalties for honor murders as compared to other murders, and Islamic clerics have resisted efforts to stiffen penalties for honor killings.

Fazel Hawramy, Thomson Reuters Foundation, 3 July 2017

One wintry night, a brown pick-up truck drove through the Kurdish highlands in northern Iraq with four men and a woman inside.

The oldest man in charge held a pistol to the woman’s right thigh, ordering her to be quiet as they approached a checkpoint.

After an hour of driving, the men arrived at a spring in the mountains where they beat the woman with sticks and forced her to walk for about a mile before stopping in an orchard.

“Please brother, don’t kill me, for the sake of Allah,” the woman — who asked to be identified as Lava to protect her identity — said she pleaded with her older brother Jamal on that night about two years ago.

But her pleas were ignored and she was forced to the ground, with her hands tied behind her back and her legs bound, while two of her other brothers dug a grave.

Lava knew well of the countless stories in the Kurdish press of women whose charred bodies are found in remote areas, suspected victims of so-called “honor” killings when women are strangled, stabbed or set on fire by their relatives and the authorities then notified of a suicide.

Once only common in rural areas, women’s rights campaigners are concerned the practice of murdering women for what some see as “immoral acts” has also become commonplace, and accepted, in Iraq’s cities and towns but the exact numbers are unknown.

Anecdotally it seems the numbers are rising despite increased awareness of the crime, educational policies and an expanded school system with campaigners calling for more action by the authorities to stop these murders.

“According to the official data from the government this year there were 24 cases of honor killing cases until the end of May,” said Khanim Rahim, director of the women’s rights group Asuda for Combating Violence against Women in Iraqi Kurdistan.

“But you need to bear in mind that there are cases that are not registered or reported to the authorities.”

In February 2015, figures reported from the Kurdistan Health Ministry showed in the last five years over 3,000 women had been killed as a result of domestic violence in the Kurdistan region. Campaigners say the real number is likely to be higher.
Crime and punishment

Lava, whose “crime” was to be seen in the car of a young man after leaving her job at a hotel in Dohuk in February 2015, said two of her three brothers and a cousin threw her into the newly-dug grave and covered her with soil so only her head stuck out.

“You dishonored us. This is your punishment in this world and you should expect worse in the other world,” she said her brother yelled before the men disappeared into the darkness.

The Iraq National Youth Survey in 2009 found 68 percent of young men accept the killing of a women for shaming a family.
Lava tried unsuccessfully to remove some soil off her chest to relieve the pressure on her lungs but believes she then must have fallen unconscious.

She was lucky, however, a rare case of a woman surviving such a murder bid.

Her brother-in-law, a respected lawyer, had heard her brothers plotting to kill her and managed to convince her father to reveal the location of her grave.

“It was evening of the following day when I saw my older sister coming toward the grave accompanied by her husband and my three brothers,” Lava told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in a cafe in an undisclosed location in the Kurdish region.