By Jeff Jacoby, Globe Columnist | August 10, 2008
NO ONE knows just how many Muslim girls and women are murdered each year in the name of family “honor,” since their deaths frequently go unreported and unpunished. The cases that do come to light are ghastly. “Women and young girls are set ablaze, strangled, shot at, clubbed, stabbed, tortured, axed, or stoned to death,” a United Nations report noted in 2004. “Their bodies are found mutilated with their throat slit, or they are chopped into pieces and thrown in a ditch.”
The report singled out as especially horrifying the honor killing in Pakistan of “a 16-year-old girl who was reportedly electrocuted to death after being drugged with sleeping pills and being tied to a wooden bed with iron chains.” Her offense: marrying a boy from the wrong community. Countless others have lost their lives for refusing an arranged marriage, wearing Western-style clothing, having a boyfriend, or even being raped.
Recently, the Saudi human rights activist Wajeha al-Huwaidar wrote a scathing essay characterizing honor killings as a scourge peculiar to the “Greater Middle East,” with its entrenched culture of misogyny and male supremacy. Her article was prompted by the lynching of 17-year-old Du’a al-Aswad, a Kurdish girl stoned to death by a mob of Iraqi men. (The essay has been translated by the Middle East Media Research Institute, which also provides a link to a gruesome cellphone video of the lynching.) “From Pakistan and Afghanistan through Iran, the Middle East, and all the way to Morocco,” Huwaidar wrote, “this entire part of the world [is full of] defeated and dejected men, whose only way to gain some sort of victory is by beating their women to death.”
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