Fadime Şahindal, a Kurdish immigrant from Turkey, was seven years old when her family arrived in Sweden in 1982. By the time she was a young adult, she opposed her family's insistence on an arranged marriage and secretly went out with a boyfriend of her own choosing.
Eventually her father found out about the relationship and she was threatened by her father and brother to end it.
In November 2001 the Violence against Women network arranged a seminar about the topic "Integration on whose terms?" At that seminar Fadime spoke in front of the Swedish parliament about her plight and the plight of all Muslim immigrant girls.
Fadime's Memorial Fund, Fadime Sahindal's Speech
I'm going to talk about how hard it is to be caught between the demands of your family and the demands of society. I want to point out that this is not only about women from the Middle East.
I'm 25 years old and come from a small village in the Turkish part of Kurdistan. I come from a happy family with clear role divisions. When I was 7 years old, my family came to Sweden. They told me not to play with Swedish children, to come straight home from school every day.
My parents thought that school was a good thing as long as you learned to read and write, but that girls didn't need a higher education. The most important thing was for me to go back to Turkey one day and get married.
But when the time came, I refused because I thought that I was too young. Besides, I wanted to choose my own husband. I told them I wouldn't go back to Turkey.
For them, my marriage was for the good of the entire family. Even if I didn't want to get married, it was better for one member of the family to feel disgraced than the whole family. But I considered myself to be a member of Swedish society.
I began to test my limits more and more. I hung out with my Swedish friends and came home later than I was supposed to. It was important for me to stand on my own two feet, to get an education and develop my abilities. My family was against that. They regarded Swedish girls as loose - with no respect for their families. Swedes switch partners without worrying about the honor of their family.
My family's opinions were riddled with prejudice. They made me confused and ambivalent. I was forced to lead a double life.
One day I met a Swedish guy named Patrik and we fell in love. But it was important that my family not find out about it. I was afraid of what would happen if my family found out that I had met a Swedish guy.
After being together for a year, we became less and less careful. Then the unthinkable thing happened - my dad caught us. His first reaction was to strike both Patrik and me. According to him, the role of a father is to defend and protect his daughter.
He assumed that Patrik and I had a sexual relationship. It is important to be a virgin - the tradition of showing the spot of blood on the sheet after the wedding night is still alive.
For my family, the purpose of my life was to marry a Kurdish man. All of a sudden, I had been transformed from a nice Kurdish girl into a slut. I decided to break with my family and move to Sundsvall. My brother found me and threatened me. The situation got worse and worse. The reason that my brother came was that he was a minor and wouldn't be punished as severely by the law.
I reported the incident to the police, but they didn't take me seriously. They advised me to talk with my family and ask them not to threaten me any more.
So I turned to the media instead. The event attracted a great deal of attention. A number of similar cases had arisen around the same time. I gave a voice and a face to the oppression.
When I went to the police a second time, I was received by a policeman who had experience with similar cases. He understood the seriousness of the situation and offered me protected identity.
My report lead to a court case. My father was convicted of unlawful threat. My mother got the blame for my having left the family. She also accused herself.
Today I live and go to school in Östersund. I feel strong and stable, but it has been a long process to get this far. I have had to give up my background and create a new identity. I have had to leave my family.
I've paid a high price for that. My friends have become my new family. I don't regret having left my family, but I'm sad that I was forced to do it. My family lost both their honor and a daughter.
It could have been prevented. If society had assumed its responsibility for integrating my family, it could have been prevented. If the Kurdish Association had helped my family, it could have been prevented.
I don't feel any bitterness, but I think it's important to learn from what has happened to me. I hope that it doesn't happen again. I think it's important not to shut our eyes to the situation of girls from immigrant families.
Fadime Sahindal (November, 2001)
Well, you say to yourself, here we have a happy ending of sorts. However, less than two months after she delivered this stirring and perceptive speech before the Swedish Parliament, in January 2002, Fadime Sahindal, a Swedish-Kurdish girl, was murdered by her father in a so-called honor killing. Fadime has become a symbol throughout Scandinavia of two things at once - the oppression of girls and women with non-Western roots and the courage with which many of those girls respond to that oppression.
Muslim Women's League (USA), Islamic Perspective on "Honor Killings"
The problem of "honor killings” is not a problem of morality or of ensuring that women maintain their own personal virtue; rather, it is a problem of domination, power and hatred of women who, in these instances, are viewed as nothing more than servants to the family, both physically and symbolically.
The statement above comes from a Muslim Women's advocacy group based in Los Angeles, CA, just in case you were wondering how they even had the nerve to make such an announcement which would have served up a death sentence or at least a serious whipping in Shariah-compliant countries. Of course, once a Muslim population reaches a critical mass, say 3% of a population they will begin to demand Shariah Law to be instituted to apply to Muslims in that host country. Once that is accomplished, groups like the Muslim Women's League will be effectively muzzled.
You may ask, "So what? If Muslim women in the UK find that living under Shariah is too strict they can just convert to another religion." Not so fast my overly tolerant friend. Thirty-six percent of the young Muslims who were brought up under British education and society say that a Muslim who converted to another religion should be "punished by death." (1) So there is no going back.
There are at least 5,000 reported Honor Killings (2) every year; this number is quite low, actual honor killings could be in the tens of thousands. Most of these murders go unreported or are listed as suicides, accidental drownings, self-inflicted stabbings, and the perpetrators unpunished:
Worldandi.com, Reputation is Everything
The murder of females in the Middle East is an ancient tradition. Prior to the arrival of Islam in AD 622, Arabs occasionally buried infant daughters to avoid the possibility that they would later bring shame to the family. This practice continued through the centuries. It may still occur today among Bedouins, who consider girls most likely to sully the family honor.
Several thousand women a year are victims of honor killings. Numerous murders are ruled an accident, suicide, or family dispute, if they're reported at all. Police and government officials are often bribed to ignore crimes and hinder investigations. A woman beaten, burned, strangled, shot, or stabbed to death is often ruled a suicide, even when there are multiple wounds.
Many women are killed and buried in unmarked graves; their very existence is removed from community and clan records. The fact that so many murders go unreported is indicative of the status of women and the role of culture in fundamentalist Islamic countries. "It shows that women are still sometimes seen as commodities that are owned by men," says Carolyn Hannan, director of the United Nations Division for the Advancement of Women.
Obviously little has changed in Islam for 1400 years.
Other bloggers on honor killings:
A gag order was lifted on Thursday on the arrests of five brothers from Lod who are suspected of murdering their 19-year-old sister in the name of family honor.
The young girl, Rim Abu Ganem, was killed after her brother Suliman, a 33-year-old pediatrician at Assaf Harofeh Hospital, allegedly gave his brothers an anesthetic with which to drug her. According to the suspicions against them, her brothers, whose ages range from 20 to 33, choked her to death after she fell asleep.
Jawa Report, 25 Mar 2006,
Last year, the Turkish government performed a major revision to its penal code to meet minimum standards required for the country to join the European Union. As an example, it's now mandated that murders committed to preserve a family's honor will result in an automatic life term in prison. Previously, honor killings were committed with lenient or no punishment imposed.
All my articles on Honor Killings here.
Forty percent of Muslims between aged 16 to 24 said they would prefer to live under sharia law in the UK, compared to only 17 percent of those over 55. Thirty-six percent of the younger group said a Muslim who converted to another religion should be "punished by death," while only 19 percent of the older group agreed.
Thirteen percent of young Muslims surveyed said they "admired" organizations such as al-Qaida and others who were prepared to "fight the West."
The newspaper says there was also strong support for wearing the veil in public, 74 percent of 16-to-24-year-olds compared with only 28 percent of over-55s, and Islamic schools, 19 percent of over-55s, increasing to 37 percent among 16-to-24-year-olds.
Wiki, Honor killing
Honor killing is the practice of a family member killing a female relative when that relative has been considered to have brought "dishonour" to the family, often through unsanctioned sexual activity—often including cases when a woman is raped. The killing (or "execution") of the female relative is often considered, in those societies and cultures where it is practiced, to be a private matter for the affected family alone; rarely do non-family members or the courts become involved or prosecute the perpetrators. The United Nations Population Fund estimates that the annual worldwide total of honor killings may be as high as 5,000 women.