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April 03 2008

Remembering Du'a Khalil on April 7th. Last year, Joss wrote an impassioned post about the death of Du'a Khalil titled "Let's Watch A Girl Get Beaten To Death". This year, various events around the world will mark her death. They include the launching of the anthology "Nothing But Red" and two conferences which will be held in Paris and London. There's also various online campaigns as well.

Many thanks to Tonya J for the heads up about this. The Nothing But Red anthology also includes Joss' post at Whedonesque.

Thank you, Simon for getting that posted.

On May 20, 2007, Joss wrote a stunning essay about Du'a Khalil's murder, violence against women depicted on film, and violence against women in general. Because of this impassioned plea for sanity in the world, I started doing more, a little at a time. I joined Equality Now awhile back and contribute "X" dollars a month to their causes. I write blogs once in awhile on subjects that are meaningful to me and try to be more aware and compassionate about what is happening to people, every single day. I am not an activist but I would ask if you have time to consider the information in this post. Thanks all.

Here is the information for the London and Paris conferences I received in an email last Friday. The Paris details were sent in French with no link to a translation:

Date: Saturday 12 April, 2008
Time: 5.00-9:00pm
Address: University of London Union (ULU)
Room 3D, Malet Street London WC1E 7HY
Closest underground: Russell Square

A year after the world was stunned by images of a 17 year old girl being stoned to death in Iraqi Kurdistan; an international panel will debate the rise of honour killings, violence against women, gender apartheid and political Islam in Kurdistan/Iraq and the Middle East.

The high profile speakers are women’s rights activists, academics and experts from Kurdistan, Iraq, Iran, Sweden, New Zealand, and Britain and include:

* Dr Sandra Phelps: Head of Sociology Department, Kurdistan University
* Houzan Mahmoud: representative of Organisation Women’s Freedom in Iraq
* Heather Harvey: head of women’s campaign-Amnesty International in UK
* Maryam Namazie: Spokesperson of Equal Rights Now
* Maria Hagberg: Cofounder of Network against Honour Killings in Sweden
* Azar Majedi: Chair of Organisation for Women’s Liberation in Iran
* Chair: Maria Exall, Communication Workers' Union National Executive in

For more information and to confirm please contact the organiser:
Houzan Mahmoud: Tel: 07534264481
Organisation of Women’s Freedom in Iraq- Abroad representative

In Paris:

Venez commémorer cette journée avec nous, lors d’une conférence, le lundi 7 avril, de 18h à 19h, dans les locaux de Buddhachannel/ParisTVProd, 206 rue Lafayette Paris 10ème.

Nous aborderons les lois internationales relatives aux crimes d’honneur, une intervention sera faite par M. Camille Boudjak, auteur du livre « Un totalitarisme contre les femmes, Répercussions des crimes et du système de « l’honneur familial » sur les conditions de vie des femmes au Moyen Orient ». Nous vous parlerons également de nos actions en faveur de la défense du droit fondamental de toute femme, en particulier contre les crimes d’honneur, puis nous vous présenterons un clip en mémoire de toutes ces femmes assassinée au nom d’un code d’honneur morbide oppressif et rétrograde.

Merci de confirmer votre présence par email à :

Conférence organisée par l'ONG GIPF (Groupe international Parole de Femmes) et ICAHK (Campagne Internationale contre les crimes d'honneur).

A few more links:

Conference in San Francisco: Violence Against Women, Honor Killings

Quoter Gal started a blog last year for us to talk about all of this. Take a look if you have time:

IAm Du'a Khalil

[ edited by Tonya J on 2008-04-03 16:30 ]
Thank you Simon for posting about this, and TonyaJ for giving people the head's up about the conferences.
I'm glad they are exposing this sort of brutal, barbaric and inhuman phenomenon. The irony is that the men who perpetrate such dastardly crimes claim they are doing so in response to some actual or perceived "immoral action" by the victim. Sounds familiar. Blame the victim.

What kind of animal physically attacks a woman in the name of honor? And what kind of culture supports and protects this insanity in so many places across the globe?
What kind of animal physically attacks a woman in the name of honor? And what kind of culture supports and protects this insanity in so many places across the globe?

But these really aren't questions, are they?

I have had an idea for a story since I first heard of honor killings, before Du'a Khalil was murdered and we saw how much it upset Joss. Problem is, I want him to write it, not me, because he are not suck as I is.
It is believed from polling that "honour" killings enjoy reasonable support from women in areas where it is common.

That sentence I just typed is, by the way, the sickest thing you'll hear all year on many levels. Because, clearly, there is nothing honourable about it, nothing enjoyable and nothing reasonable about a tradition which victimizes women (and occasionally men - although mostly not) in such a horrific way. Honour killings represent centuries of misbalance in society.

At the time Joss posted about Du'a Khalil (and, lest we not forget, Captivity - which bombed at the box office) a friend of mine who happens to work for Equality Now recommended I read the book 'Burned Alive'. It's written by Souad, a 17 year old (pregnant) girl who fell in love with a man, and got set on fire by her brother-in-law as a result. She survived, fled abroad, and ended up writing a book about the experience many years later.

It's the bleakest thing you'll ever read. She recounts getting to hospital: "...they were letting me die because it was forbidden to intervene in a case like mine. I was guilty in everyone's eyes. I would endure the fate of all women who sully the honour of men."

Equality is like gravity. We need it to survive on this earth as men and women.

[ edited by gossi on 2008-04-03 17:57 ]
Hey, I speak some french (actually I'm in France right now studying abroad).
Here is a quick translation of the Paris info (I just did it pretty quickly, and remember I’m still a student.)
“Come to commemorate this day with us, at a conference, Monday April 7th, from 6-7 pm, at the Buddhachannel/ParisTVProd, at 206 rue Lafayette in Paris 10th (I have no idea what the 10th means, sorry).
We will address international laws relating to crimes (murders) of honor, then a presentation will take place by Mr. Camille Boudjak, author of the book « Un totalitarisme contre les femmes, Répercussions des crimes et du système de « l’honneur familial » sur les conditions de vie des femmes au Moyen Orient » (A Totalitarianism against women, reprecussions of these murders and the system of the « Family Honor » on the conditions of life of the women in the middle east.) We will speak with you also of our actions in favor of the defense of the fundamental rights of all women, in particular against the honor crimes(murders), then we will present to you a clip in memory of all the women assassinated in the name of a morbid, oppressive, and retrogressive honor code.
Please confirm your presence by email @

Conference is organized by the ONG GIPF (international group for women’s voices) and ICAHK (International campaign against the Honor crimes)"

So that's that, hope that helps!! :)
That is super! Thank you, Linnea.

I don't want to take Quoter Gal's job away from her, but in light of the John Adams mini-series that was just on Showtime, I thought I'd share this quote:

Let us dare to read, think, speak, and write --John Adams
It is believed from polling that "honour" killings enjoy reasonable support from women in areas where it is common.

Yeah. Sexism requires participation, or at least acquiescence, from women in order to persist. Just as efforts from both men and women are required in order to successfully fight it.

[ edited by Sunfire on 2008-04-03 18:29 ]
I think that's an important point about acquiescence, not because it matters that we spread the blame around but because it shows that this is a learned behaviour and learned behaviours can be unlearned. The men that do this aren't inherently evil (or animals) any more than the women that are complicit are, they're just people that have some disastrously dangerous bugs in their software.
I wasn't planning on saying this, but it's been on my mind ever since I saw the thread. At the moment, I'm working with an educational project for immigrants. Most of our students come from places where there is male dominance in both the religion and culture. Part of our job is to help them make the transition into Norwegian society, which basically means debunking set perceptions. With the boys, it's the issue of fighting to revenge honour. With the girls, it's letting them know that they get to choose. Just recently, I had one of these conversations with two girls, and the looks on their faces - not relief. At first, they looked confused, then they looked scared. Exercising that right to choose can come at a horrible price, and they know it.

We've had several honor killings in Scandinavia, all of them equally shocking. We've also had problems with parents taking thier daughters back to their homeland for a visit, just to have them circumsized.

That's why it is so very important that there are safeguards in place if the girls and mothers need it. Also for the men, especially the homosexuals because that is tabu, too. It is also important that there are people from within their own culture who can help, and luckily, there are plenty of people within the Islamic communities actively working to change things. I see hope.

I would love to go to this conference, but doubt I can work it into an already packed schedule.

[ edited by MysticSlug on 2008-04-03 20:34 ]
Evil is as evil does, Saje. Whether it's demonic possession or just unenlightened upbringing, does the impact on the victims change at all? I say no.
I understand this is a very politically charged issue and we normally like to keep it lite here at the WHEDONesque site but I wanted to address Saje’s post.

Saje, I think it’s fair to say that anyone that has "learned" that type of behavior can be called an animal. And I agree they are not inherently evil, I'd call it more of a “learned evil”, if that is a more comfortable or politically correct term.

If you want to get right down to it, attempting to separate the man from his reprehensible action, in this instance, amounts to a very apologetic attitude. As if this man has no free will of his own. From what I gather, while it’s a huge number of victims every year, it’s still a very small percentage of the overall population that engages in this type of butchery. Which means there are plenty of people that steer clear. I don’t pretend to think environment has nothing to do with this, obviously it does. However, I believe the human spirit has the capacity to rise above “learning” activities like ripping someone apart with your bare hands.
No, the impact is the same jclemens. The difference is though, one is real and can be changed and one is a convenient fiction to distance ourselves from the people that commit such horrific acts.

People (mainly men) have killed "for honour" for thousands of years and even now are still lauded for it under some circumstances and these men are no different. Those attitudes changed with time and education, so can these.

Making it "other" by calling it "evil" or them "animals" is unproductive IMO.

ETA: No alexreager, calling them "animals" is claiming they have no free will of their own.

[ edited by Saje on 2008-04-03 20:51 ]
OK, checked flights and hotels. I think I can make this work. Does anyone know if the conference costs anything?

[ edited by MysticSlug on 2008-04-03 20:49 ]
I have no idea if there is a cost involved. I would email the coordinator of the specific conference you wish to attend (in my initial post) or phone them. The London conference info. provided a phone number as well.
Also, I meant to ask Simon, or any of the Mods/Admins, if this topic could stay as a link on the main page for a few days to help get the information out, when it reaches the bottom of the topics? Thanks.
Last Friday I attended the Combating 'Honour' Based Violence Conference at the Amnesty centre for action - I'd really recommend going to something like this if you can.

I was there for my job but the most amazing part of the day was not hearing the police talk about the progress in policy, or the CPS talk about recent convictions (including prosecution of those who are complicit in this abuse, if not perpetrating it actively).
It was a presentation given by Jagdeesh Singh about his sister, Surjit, who was murdered by her husband and her mother in law.
After her 'disappearance', he had to fight both Indian and British authorities to take the case seriously, only seeing the perpatrators convicted almost 10 years later. He pointed out that cases like Madeline McCann and Lucy Blackman receive instantaneous support from media and government. Many people were moved to tears.

He will be presenting a petition to Gordon Brown for equal justice for victims of so-called 'honour killings';
Like most, I can't be there due to geography and lack of funds. However, if anyone was thinking of donating to Equality Now but haven't gotten around to it or it just slipped your mind, that day might be a good day to do it. And remind everyone else to do the same.
And I'll be wearing my D'ua Khalil t-shirt. So, if you had some funds left over after a donation and was looking for a new black t-shirt...

[ edited by NYPinTA on 2008-04-03 22:13 ]
Well, this link (and Tonya's earlier email) caused me to update the blog with Tonya's post, so thanks, folks.

I dunno what more to say about this subject - I did all my stuff last year - but as long as the practice continues, and the subjugation of women continues, the need to be involved and concerned continues.

I credit last year's thread - and Joss - with getting me politically active again... in this and other areas. What a fandom, and what a guy at its center, that can inspire its members in these ways.

I remember D'ua Khalil Aswad.

*lights candle.*
lone fashionable wolf
I was disappointed that I was ineligible to signt he petition b/c I am a US citizen and not a UK resident or British citizen. If you know of a link for international support please post it or send it to me via email.

We recently had an honour killing in Texas. A man killed his 2 teenaged daughters b/c they were becoming too american, secular. Although they wore clothing that covered everything but their hands and head from the neck up, they spoke to boys at school, read books outside school work, and asked to go to movies. So he had them both get in taxi drove to a parking lot, shot them both and left them for dead as he left the country. This from a man who came to the US for a better life for his family, this from a man who had supposedly converted to Christianity. I just want people to be aware that it doesn't take uneducated social pressure for this to happen. It goes deeper than that sometimes. We have a long road ahead of us but I believe one day things will be better. I have to.
Picked up the Metro this a.m. (it's a free paper you get on public transport) but didn't get a chance to read it so, just before I stuck it on the pile I had a flick through and, as horrible coincidence would have it, there's a story about Banaz Mahmood who disappeared from her place in London in early 2006 and 3 months later was found stuffed in a suitcase and buried in a garden in Birmingham. She was 20 years old.

Her father (her father for fuck's sake) and uncle were jailed for her murder but the list of people that should have helped but instead basically ignored her would make you cry.
Yes, it goes very deep, and that is what makes it so very sad. I know that no matter what I say, or what I do, it might not always make a difference. Still keep trying though.
What a fandom, and what a guy at its center, that can inspire its members in these ways.

Heartily agree, of course. That's because Joss is of teh (not a typo) awesome. I've kept Du'a close to my heart since Joss's essay, as I've signed petitions, written blogs, and read more horror stories, one which Saje already recounted, online and in newspapers. It seems as though this issue doesn't end, but the more people who are made aware and express their outrage, in whatever way they can, it will make a difference. Just as Joss keeps getting asked that tired old question, "Why do you write such strong ..." mm-hm, "Because you keep asking me that question," perhaps one day there will be no more need for petitions, conferences, and essays like the one Joss wrote, because there won't be a need. I pray for that day to come for humanity.
Ah, I'm disappointed. If I'd known about this earlier I would've organized something on my campus. I think Monday is too short notice to get posters and such approved.
I don't understand. I just can't comprehend how people are capable of achieving so much -- beautiful art, understanding the universe, kindness, love -- and yet people are also capable of such insane brutality.

And I feel so powerless about it all. I want to help, but I just don't know what I can do. I donate to Equality Now, but it doesn't feel like I'm doing enough. I read about things like this knowing that, whilst I'm reading, there are other people out there being hurt right now. It makes my skin crawl.

Sometimes it's places like this comment thread that seem like one of the few sane places left in the world. How sad is that?
I know it's mixing reality and fantasy, but when I saw what they did to Du'a Khalil, I truly wished Buffy Summers could have been there to save the girl, and kick the butt of every misogynist goon taking part in her death.

But since there is no such person as Buffy Summers, it's up to the rest of us, the people who actually have empathy. We need to punish those responsible for these gruesome acts, and teach future generations the truth about barbarism. These "honor killings" are an invention of an ancient, superstitious populace, and they have no place in the modern world.
MattK- There have been a few worthwhile causes that I've gotten involved with in the past. And like you, I've donated money and felt empty or helpless because it just seems like such a small gesture in the face of something huge. For me the answer was easy. I wasn't in a position to do more but I did what could be done on an individual level and I believe it's had huge impact. I started telling my friends and family about the cause.

The amazing thing is that in each instance, many people were not aware that the issue even existed. And even more amazing, some of them actually got involved with organized groups and helped create change. I'll bet there are some people you know that have never heard of honor killing...
Linnea1928, excellent on the hoof translation. BTW, "Paris 10eme" means the 10th arrondissement, I believe.
Thanks so much for this thread. Joining Quoter Gal in lighting a candle, about all I can do at the moment.
Mods, can this topic please be linked on the front page until the 7th so the information gets out? Thank you.
I know it's mixing reality and fantasy, but when I saw what they did to Du'a Khalil, I truly wished Buffy Summers could have been there to save the girl, and kick the butt of every misogynist goon taking part in her death.

Sometimes when I read about some horrible thing happening to someone, I have that moment. That moment where I desperately wish the look-out-it's-the-Slayer! or oh-no-it's-Batman! kind of superheroes are real. But you're right, we have to make due with normal people trying to do extraordinary things. It has to start with us.

Hopefully that CSTS ad in Buffy #13 will get some new people involved in that.
Just received another email with links to information.

The first link is a blog dated today:

Du'a: A Call Unheard

This rehashes Du'a death but it also goes on to say how no one save a small group of activists have done anything to mark her passing. I take issue with that, keeping in mind that millions have noted what happened and are completely outraged. If Joss hadn't written what he did, there would be a lot less enlightened and motivated people in the world right now. Nothing but Red would not have been created,

Nothing but Red,

or Ellen Sheeley's eloquent letter to the King of Jordan, contained in Nothing but Red,

A Heartfelt Appeal to His Majesty King Abdullah II of Jordan,

and I would not have pushed for this topic to be revisited. All thanks to Joss Whedon.

I hope you'll drop by tomorrow, April 7th, and join me in leaving a short note of remembrance.
I remember Du’a Khalil Aswad


A beautiful young woman, aged 17
Murdered in Kurdistan, Iraq
By relatives including her uncle
And others

While hundreds watched
And cheered
And did nothing

She never got to fully
Live her life
Taken from this world too soon

Du’a, I will remember you
The rest of my life

Rest in peace now

[ edited by Tonya J on 2008-04-07 04:56 ]
There are days when I think of Du'a Khalil Aswad and - after 53 years on this planet - I can only muster up this kind of sentiment (only with more and less-apt words.)

There are other days when I can see humanity more like this here.

Most of the time I live somewhere in between - but veering madly between these two poles.

But whatever I think, I hope we can do better for women in particular and humanity in general than we were able to do for Du'a. I never knew her, I never would have met her, but she might have been a friend.

I'll remember her.

"I have never had any faith in humanity. But I will give us props on this: if we can evolve, invent and theorize our way into the technologically magical, culturally diverse and artistically magnificent race we are and still get people to buy the idiotic idea that half of us are inferior, we’re pretty amazing. Let our next sleight of hand be to make that myth disappear." - Joss, Let's Watch A Girl Get Beaten To Death, May 20th, 2007
I remember Du'a Khalil Aswad.

The morning has found tears in my eyes.

For those of you expressing regret at not being able to attend an event, I encourage you to act. Visit Equality Now. Re-read Joss' essay. Click on the Nothing But Red link above, and purchase a copy of the anthology. NBR has done an amazing job, it's really a beautiful book.

Do something. This day isn't just about Du'a. It's about all of us.
And I feel so powerless about it all. I want to help, but I just don't know what I can do. I donate to Equality Now, but it doesn't feel like I'm doing enough. I read about things like this knowing that, whilst I'm reading, there are other people out there being hurt right now.

I know this story has dropped off the main page, so I'm not sure who's still paying attention, but I really wanted to comment on this... I completley know how you feel. Working on Nothing But Red, I've been saying the same thing for months now--that nothing I do is enough. But as cheesy as it sounds, the reality is that every little bit really does help. There are people actively working on the front lines, trying to save lives, and the activist world they live in is so lonely sometimes, because it seems like no one else cares. I've met a lot of people while seeing Nothing But Red to publication--people who devote their lives to this kind of thing. And they've repeatedly passed on their thanks to me, the NBR staff, and the contributors because we showed them they're not alone and that there are people who DO care, who ARE grateful for the work they do. By supporting charities, speaking out, and showing you care, you ARE making a difference--you ARE doing something incredible.

So to anyone who fears that they aren't doing enough, aren't giving enough...take a moment and send an email to someone. The webmaster of a charity's website, the author of an article or book you've read that meant something to you. Reach out. A few kind words can do so much to inspire people.

I remember Du'a Khalil Aswad.
Skyla: "I know this story has dropped off the main page..."

Skyla, the mods have linked to this thread on the home page under "The Sitch/News" on the right-hand side of the page. (Thanks much, moderazzis.)

Thanks, btw, for all your work on Nothing But Red - I'll be buying my copy today - and to Tonya, for never letting us forget this issue...
Thanks, QG m'dear. And Skyla, thank you for the reminder about people on the front lines. I have written to some folks thanking them, as well as the Nothing but Red team at your site.
Yes, I saw that QG--I just wasn't sure how many people would be checking it. Glad there's still some life, though. :-) And I sincerely hope you enjoy the book.

Thank you for your kind words, TonyaJ--so many people have been working behind the scenes on this, and it's wonderful to hear from people. I'm sure everyone you contacted really appreciated the comments. It was one of the NBR contributors, Ellen R. Sheeley (Reclaiming Honor in Jordan), who really made me realize recently how important it is to reach out.
(Oooops - wrong thread... nothing to see here...)

[ edited by QuoterGal on 2008-04-07 23:37 ]
Wanted you all to know that in giving thanks to organizations today (I heard back from everyone, how nice was that) ICAHK (The International Campaign Against Honour Killings) will be continuing to update folks on their mailing list. The webmaster there told me they will have a recounting of the Paris Conference soon. I am on their list because I signed the Du'a Khalil Petition last year so they had my email address.

I will continue to use this topic (please bookmark it so the conversation can continue) as a place to post information. I will do so at the I am Du'a Khalil blog as well - link is above.

There are a couple of petitions you can sign if you haven't already - it's not too late:

ICAHK Petition

Code Pink Petition
Falling tears in remembrance of Dua and so many others, past and present
Pride in people who frequent this site and
Hope for a better future for everyone
Peace and love to all.
That was fast. The Day of Remembrance and Nothing But Red has already produced results.

Yesterday from ICAHK:

We are also trying to persuade Amnesty and some other groups to make April 7 the official International Day of Action Against Honour Killings. We have very much appreciated the support generated by the day and think this would definitely be a serious boost to the movement -- particularly to generate activism where it is needed most: in the Middle East and South Asia.

Today from Author/Activist Ellen Sheeley:

If any of you is interested, I recently began blogging about "honor" killings. I'm somewhat prompted to do so by yesterday's launch of an anthology about them. I'm a contributor to the anthology, and my submission was picked up by UPI. Here's where I'm blogging:

Ellen's Blog

Lifetime Television emailed me this petition that is going to Congress.

Please take a look if you have time:

Tell Congress to fund critical programs that help thousands of victims of domestic, dating and sexual violence

Thanks guys.
Well, I never received an update about the Paris Conference for the Day of Remembrance, but I did receive this info. by email today from the International Campaign Against Honour Killings:

Equal Action for Surjit and Banaz

Jagdeesh Singh, brother of 'honour' killling victim Surjit Athwal, intends to deliver his petition to Gordon Brown, the British Prime Minister on 7th May. So, if any of you have not yet signed this, please do: his petition calls for victims of 'honour' killing to recieve equal treatment to other UK citizens.


Despite receiving a lot of moral support for the campaign to help 'Sarah' escape her relatives who are threatening her with forced marriage at best, donations are still fairly low and Sarah's friends are concerned about her safety.


Sarah is a young woman from the Middle East. After undergoing horrific violence after the first marriage she was forced into, and confronted with the prospect of being forced into a second unwanted marriage, she decided that death was preferable to life on those terms. After a long period in a coma, she returned to consciousness, but she is still in hospital under intensive care. Naturally, she cannot depend on any support from her family, who have threatened to kill her on previous occasions. In fact, friends of Sarah arranged for her to be placed in a hospital in a place where her parents are unable to find her, force her into marriage or kill her in the name of family 'honour'.

With no rights or social security, Sarah depends on her friends to defray the expense incurred through her hospitalisation which has already reached several thousand Euros. Her friends are not rich and are unable to pay the price necessary to save her life and allow her to follow her desires and hopes. Therefore, her friends have launched this appeal to your goodwill to help Sarah receive the care she desperately needs.

"Who saves the life of one saves the life of all mankind," as they say. By helping Sarah, who is suffering both from the lack of accessible healthcare common in all third-world countries, and from the weight of 'family honour', we will also bring hope to all the others who suffer, and show that solidarity and humanity are stronger than oppression and despair.

(We have used a false name to protect Sarah's identity)

Sarah* est une jeune femme du Moyen-Orient. Après avoir subi les pires violences lors d'un premier mariage forcé, elle a, après la menace d'un second mariage forcé, préféré tenter de se donner la mort que de « vivre » encore une telle expérience. Après une longue période de coma, elle est revenue à la vie, mais doit toujours être hospitalisée en soins intensifs. Bien entendu, elle ne peut compter sur aucun soutien de sa famille. Suite à sa tentative de suicide, en effet, des amis ont permis à Sarah d'être hospitalisée dans un lieu sûr pour éviter que sa famille ne la retrouve, cherche à nouveau à la marier de force ou même ne la tue au nom de « l'honneur familial ». Sans droits à la sécurité sociale, Sarah ne peut compter que sur quelques ami(e)s pour subvenir aux frais d'hospitalisation qui s'élèvent à plusieurs milliers d'euros. Salariés modestes pour la plupart, ces amis ne peuvent supporter seuls cette charge élevée et pourtant nécessaire pour sauver la vie de Sarah et lui permettre ensuite de vivre enfin selon ses désirs et aspirations. Aussi nous faisons appel à votre solidarité pour permettre à Sarah de bénéficier des soins qui lui sont nécessaires.

« Qui sauve la vie d'un humain sauve toute l'humanité » dit-on… Aider Sarah., face à l'absence de soins accessibles pour tous dans les pays du tiers-monde et au poids de « l'honneur familial », c'est aussi continuer à donner espoir à toutes celles qui souffrent, à montrer que la solidarité et l'humanité peuvent être plus forte que l'oppression et le désespoir.

Pour d'évidentes raisons de sécurité, nous ne pouvons bien entendu pas donner plus de détail en public.

*Le prénom a été modifié pour des raisons de sécurité

ساعدوا سارة سارة صبية من الشرق الأوسط. كغيرها من النساء المعنفات والمضطهدات في العالم ، أرغمت على الزواج للمرة الأولى بعد تعرضها لعنف وترهيب من قبل أسرتها ، كما قررت أسرتها تزويجها مرة ثانية رغماً عنها ، فكان قرارها هو الابتعاد عن هذا العالم القذر والأيام الصعبة التي لم تحمل لها سوى المعاناة والذل لسبب واحد فقط ، وهو أنها امرأة ، فقررت أن تنتحر ،إلا ان محاولتها باءت بالفشل الأمر الذي اودى بها الى المشفى حيث دخلت في غيبوبة طويلة ، وبعد استعادتها الوعي كان لا بد من إبقائها في العناية المشددة ، فقرر أصدقاؤها مساعدتها حيث كان من المستحيل الطلب من أسرتها تقديم أي عون ، خاصة بعدما أقدم بعض افراد الأسرة عدة مرات على إطلاق تهديدات صريحة وجادة بقتلها ، وبالطبع ليس من الغريب إطلاق هكذا تهديدات للشابة المسكينة خاصة أن الشرق الأوسط منطقة معروفة بإقدام الذكور على قتل نسائهم وأخواتهم لأتفه الأسباب ، بحجة الحفاظ على شرف العائلة العتيد ، وبالتالي قدم أصدقاؤها ما أمكن من معونة مادية لدفع تكاليف المشفى الباهظة ، إلا أن وضعهم المالي عادي للغاية لا يسمح لهم بتحمل جميع المصاريف فكان لابد من إطلاق هذا النداء إلى كل من يملك حس إنساني ، ويحمل في قلبه رحمة و شعور طيب ونبيل وقادر على تقديم المساعدة ، اي مساعدة ، يمكن أن تخلص الشابة من بعض متاعبها ، وتزيح عن كاهلها حمل ثقيل آخر ، وربما تكون بادرة أمل للنساء الأخريات المعنفات تشعرهم بأن هنالك فعلاً من يهتم ويمد اليد النبيلة لمساعدتهن ، وخاصة أن المشافي في الدول النامية معروفة بضعف إمكانياتها مقارنة بالمشافي الأخرى الموجودة في بعض الدول وربما . تشعرهن بأن الإنسانية أقوى والأمل أبقى من اليأس . (ملاحظة : قمنا باستخدام اسم وهمي وأخفينا الهوية الحقيقية للفتاة لحمايتها . )
أصدقاء سارة

Best Regards,

International Campaign Against Honour Killings Staff
An email received today from the International Campaign Against Honour Killings (ICAHK):

Hello, A statement from the Iranian and Kurdish Women’s Rights Organisation and the International Campaign Against Honour Killings

On April 7th 2007, a teenager called Du’a Khalil Aswad was stoned to death, in a brutal and savage attack by her uncle and cousins, watched by a crowd of hundreds of men and boys gleefully relishing the opportunity for male bonding as the girl was kicked and beaten, pelted with stones and finally killed by a concrete block which was dropped on her face, pulverizing it into a bleeding pulp as the crowd roared their approval. This was a so-called ‘honour’ killing, although a lynching might be a more accurate description.

Du’a was a Kurd from the Yezidi religion. Her crime had been to try and elope with a young man of her own choosing; for this she was brutally, publicly murdered in a scene which would not been out of place in Old Testament times, if it were not for the jostling observers recording the event on their mobile phones, trying to get a better angle as they recorded her death agonies. These gruesome home videos found their way onto the Internet where they aroused a wave of revulsion at the murder and sympathy for Du’a Khalil and the countless other victims of ‘honour’ killing and ‘honour’ violence in the world. Within the ideology of ‘honour’, daughters are the possessions of their fathers and male relatives, and that their lives are conditional upon obeying the patriarchal order. This conception of women as possessions is a common feature of classical patriarchy, the patriarchy of agrarian tribes. It is this conception of women as possessions that cost Du’a her life; it is this same conception that may mean that justice may not be served in her case.

Tribal Kurdish culture is shown by the reliance of many Kurds on komelayati, a structure run by elderly, religious, political and tribal representatives who hear disputes to achieve reconciliation (solih). As their structure suggests, they are deeply patriarchal and although they often resolve issues by financial solutions, they may also order women and minor girls into forced marriage and call for ‘honour’ killings to be carried out.

In the Kurdish newspaper Aweena, it was announced that the Aswads, Du’a’s parents, had accepted 40 million Iraqi Dinars as blood money in such a solih and had agreed to forgive the murderers. The Aswads have suffered enormously over the murder of their daughter, and no doubt they deserve 40 million dinars of compensation if not more; the Aswads still live in Bashiqa, and no doubt choosing to forgive the murderers is necessary for them if they wish to live peacefully in their community. In the aftermath of the murder, several Yezidi men were executed by members of Al Qaeda who have issued a fatwa declaring the murder of Yezidi as permissible. The Yezidi people have suffered a great deal of violence and prejudice since the stoning, and it is with this in mind that the solih was reached, with Christian, Yezidi and high-profile Muslim leaders working together to raise the money and to make the agreement to restore peace between Bashiqa’s ethnic groups.

However, on the scales of justice, the forgiveness of the parents should weigh nothing. Children are not their parent’s possessions, and a father or mother has no more right to forgive their killers on their behalf than they do to force them into marriage or kill them. The ‘honour’ killing of Du’a Khalil was not a crime against her family; it was a crime against her, and a crime against humanity. If the parents wish to forgive her murderers it is a private affair: this must have no bearing on the prosecution and pursuit of the guilty. Of the seventeen men who took an active role in her stoning, five are currently imprisoned, and of the remaining twelve, two are in hiding and cannot be found by the authorities. The guilty must be tried and sentenced, and the fugitives must be brought to justice, irrespective of this deal.

Kurdish authorities do not have a good reputation for seeking justice for murdered women. Take for example the case of Mohabad Abdullah, who was unfortunate enough to catch the eye of Saleh ‘Machine Gun’ Ahmed Sharif. In 2001, after she refused to marry him, he abducted, raped and murdered her. He was prosecuted for this crime and imprisoned: however with the active help of the PUK (of which group Sharif was a member) a deal was brokered to pay ‘blood money’ to the Abduallah tribe to release the murderer. Sharif is also suspected of murdering Mohabad’s sister Jiwan, who testified against him, and yet walks free in Sulemaniya.

Take, for another example, the recent murder of Kurdistan Aziz, another teenager also stoned to death by her family for elopement. Both parties were appealed to for help; both refused to protect the young woman, and there does not seem to have been any attempt to serve justice upon her killers. ‘Honour’ killings and female suicides are at epidemic proportions (with 11 women dying from these two causes in just 7 days in the Arbil, the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan, according to doctors at Rizgari hospital).

Du’a’s murder has become deeply meaningful for young Kurds, for Kurdish women’s rights activists and across the global community, with excerpts of her brutal death aired on CNN and Al Jazeera attracting attention and sympathy from tens of thousands of people. The anniversary of her death was memorialized with seminars and events across the world. She will be continued to be remembered, as symbol of the power of love and the brutality of patriarchy, standing for the hundreds of Kurdish women and girls killed for ‘honour’ every year. Punitive justice against her murderers will send a clear message throughout the region and to the entire world that these patriarchal murders will not be tolerated.

Human life is priceless. No amount of money will cleanse the stones of Kurdistan from Du’a’s blood. Only justice can do that.

WE CALL FOR JUSTICE FOR DU’A KHALIL AND ALL OTHER VICTIMS OF ‘HONOUR’ KILLING! Best Regards, International Campaign Against Honour Killings Staff
Sent to me August 14, 2008:

Hello, From Asian Human Rights Commission

Dear friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information from a remote area of Balochistan province, that five women were buried alive, allegedly by the younger brother of Mr. Sadiq Umrani, the provincial minister and a prominent leader of the Pakistan People's Party, the ruling party. However, police have still not arrested the perpetrators after one month of the incident.


The Umrani tribe is mainly concentrated in the Jafarabad and Naseerabad districts of Balochistan provice that are about 300 kilometers from Quetta city, the provincial capital. Mr. Sadiq Umrani, the provincial minister for housing and construction, was elected to the Balochistan Assembly in the February 18, 2008 elections from Dera the Murad Jamali constituency of district Naseerabad.
The incident of the women being buried alive occurred in a remote village, the Baba Kot, 80 kilometers away from Usta Mohammad city of Jafferabad district. It is believed that due to the influence of the minister and his brother the incident was not reported in the media.

According to the information received, five women were Ms. Fatima, wife of Umeed Ali Umrani, Jannat Bibi, wife of Qaiser Khan, Fauzia, daughter of Ata Mohammad Umrani, and two other girls, aged between 16 to 18 years. They were at the house of Mr. Chandio at Baba Kot village and to leave for a civil court at Usta Mohammad, district Jafarabad, so that three of the girls could marry the men of their choice. Their decision to have marriage in court was the result of several days of discussions with the elders of the tribe who refused them permission to marry. The names of two younger girls were not ascertained because of strong control of tribal leaders in the area.

As the news of their plans leaked out, Mr. Abdul Sattar Umrani, a brother of the minister, came with more than six persons and abducted them at gun points. They were taken in a Land Cruiser jeep, bearing a registration number plate of the Balochistan government, to another remote area, Nau Abadi, in the vicinity of Baba Kot. After reaching the deserted area of Nau Abadi, Abdul Sattar Umrani and his six companions took the three younger women out of the jeep and beat them before allegedly opening fire with their guns. The girls were seriously injured but were still alive at that moment. Sattar Umrani and his accomplices hurled them into a wide ditch and covered them with earth and stones. The two older women were an aunt of Fauzia and the other, the mother of one minor. When they protested and tried to stop the burial of the minors that were plainly alive, the attackers were so angry that they also pushed them into the ditch and buried all alive. After completing the burial, they fired several shots into to the air so that no one would come close.

The minors were educated and were studying in classes from 10 to 12. They were punished for trying to decide about their marriages.

After one month the police have still not registered the case and it is difficult to get more detailed information. The provincial minister is so powerful that police are reluctant to provide details on the murder. When the AHRC contacted Mr. Sadiq Umrani, provincial minister, he confirmed the incident by saying that only three women had been killed by unknown persons. He denied his or his brother's involvement. He went on to say that the police will not disclose any information about the case as to do so now would be implicate themselves. However, concerned officers of two different police stations have confirmed the incident and explained that no one is providing any information. Also as they could not find the graves of the victims it is difficult to register the case. The victim's family members have since left the place and their whereabouts are unknown.

The alleged perpetrator, Mr. Abdul Sattar Umrani, the brother of the provincial minister, was also involved in murder of three persons, including one young woman, in January 2006. That case was similar in that a school teacher, Mr. Mohammad Aslam, was going with his lover in a taxi to a civil court to court marry. The perpetrators stopped them at Manjo Shori, sub district Tumboo, District Naseerabad and killed all three persons by gun fire. The dead included the taxi driver, Mr. Jabal Aidee. The police were unable to institute a murder case for five months until the intervention of Mr. Iftekhar Choudhry, the deposed Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and also the deputy speaker of Senate. But only one person was arrested and the perpetrator Abdul Sattar Umrani remained at large.


Every year in Pakistan hundreds of women, of all ages and in all parts of the country, are reported killed in the name of honour. Many more cases go unreported. Almost all go unpunished. The lives of millions of women in Pakistan are circumscribed by traditions, which enforce extreme seclusion and submission to men many of whom impose their virtually proprietarily control over women with violence. For the most part, women bear the traditional male control over every aspect of their bodies, speech and behaviour with stoicism, as part of their kismat (fate), but exposure to media, the work of women's rights groups and the greater degree of mobility have seen the beginnings of women's rights awareness seep into the secluded world of women.

But if women begin to exert these rights, however tentatively, they often face more repression and punishment: the curve of honour killings has increased parallel to the rise in the awareness in rights. State indifference, discriminatory laws and the gender bias of much of the country's police force and judiciary have ensured virtual impunity for perpetuators of honour killings. It is paradoxical that women who enjoy such a poor status in society and have no standing in family should become a focal point of a false and primitive concept of family honour, which they are accepted to uphold at the expense of their inclinations and preference in the matters of marriage. [Honour Killings in Pakistan by Neshay Najam]

Originally a Baluch and Pashtun tribal custom, honour killings are founded in the twin concepts of honour and commodity of women. Women are married off for a bride price paid to the father. There is no concept for girls to get marriage on their own choice and if it is found then, they are killed in the name of honour. (Please also refer to LESSON Series 35 May 2004 of Human Rights Correspondence School)

Please write letters to the following mentioned authorities demanding to file the case of murder of five women by burial alive by the perpetrators.

Please be informed that the AHRC has also written letters to the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions calling for an intervention in this case.

To support this appeal, please click Here

Best Regards, International Campaign Against Honour Killings Staff

[ edited by Tonya J on 2008-08-16 06:14 ]

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