Raising awareness and offering hope to victims of honor-related violence
The rate of torture preceding death is highest in Europe (68 percent) for victims of all ages, 35 percent in North America and 51 percent in the Muslim world.
Can’t happen here? The AHA Foundation, established in 2007 by Ayaan Hirsi Ali to protect and defend women from honor violence, forced marriage and female genital mutilation describes five cases of honor violence or killing in the United States:
February 2012: Aiya Altameemi, a 19-year-old Iraqi-American living with her family in Arizona, was severely beaten by her mother and sister and her father threatened to kill her, placing a knife at her throat (leaving a 1-1.5 inch scar, for having been seen talking to a boy. Several months earlier, her mother burned her on the face with a hot spoon because Aiya refused to consent to an arranged marriage with a man who was twice her age. Because Aiya later defended her family, stating "that’s our culture," all three were given no further jail time, and only two years’ probation.
In January 2008, Texas resident Yaser Said shot and killed his two teenaged daughters, Sarah and Amina, due to their "Western lifestyle" and the fact that each had a boyfriend. The father disappeared after the murders, but at a vigil remembrance of the girls, their brother placed all the blame on his sisters for their Western attitudes: "They pulled the trigger, not my dad."
Faleh Almaleki, an Iraqi living in Arizona, killed his 20-year-old daughter Noor Almaleki by twice running over her with his car. She had refused to marry her father’s choice of a man she’d never met who lived in Iraq and she had become "too Western." He was convicted and sentenced to 34 1/2 years in prison.
In May 2008, Waheed Allah Mohammad stabbed his sister Fauzia, then 19 years of age. A number of family members and he had been arguing with her outside their home over her decision to move to New York City with a friend. He explained to police that she had "disgraced the family" by dressing immodestly and going to clubs. He pleaded guilty to attempted murder and was sentenced to 10 years in prison.
A 2012 Canadian study identified twelve honor killings in that country since 1999.
Will the faux cover and campaign spark an attack on the offices of Cosmo or Karma Nirvana? Honor violence is a cultural, not religious, deed. The cover does not attack Islam or its god or prophet, but in the current environment, it does take courage to call into question any practices of extremist Middle Easterners. So, "Good on you," Cosmo and prayers for the safety of your personnel.
It may take a long time for immigrants in the West to value the lives of their daughters and wives more than "family honor." By drawing attention to these crimes, training school personnel and police to be more alert and responsive to complaints, and providing resources and means for victims to be protected before their lives are taken are only the first, though necessary, steps.
Susan Willsis a senior writer for Aleteia’s English-language edition.
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