The disgrace of honor murders

The Rotterdam branch of GroenLinks, a leftist liberal party, has recently come out with a new plan to help integrate immigrant women. Called "voorrang voor vrouwen" (priority for women), their general idea is that by dealing with the threats (immigrant) women face, it would be possible to help them come out to work and to join society.

One of these issues is a topic usually referred to as "honor murders". GroenLinks' proposal is to treat is much like domestic violence, by supporting organizations who help abused women in their own community. They also compared these murders of shame to any other murder where a family member (usually husband) goes into a rage and kills his wife and children.

I have asked GroenLinks for comments on my previous blog article on the subject and I was glad to see that they were open to engage in discussion.

Nadya van Putten, author of the plan, answered me as follows (translation below):

Bedankt voor je interesse in ons plan 'Voorrang voor vrouwen'. Fijn dat je ons 'metroplan' hebt gelezen zoals het bedoeld is: een veilige plek voor vrouwen op momenten dat zij geneigd zouden zijn anders binnen te blijven.Inderdaad is dat in zekere zin een zwaktebod, maar de maatschappij is nu eenmaal niet ideaal, en zeker niet om twee uur 's nachts.

Natuurlijk heb je gelijk dat er een verschil is tussen eerwraak enfamiliedrama. Het eerste hangt meer samen met cultuur, dat wil zeggennormen en waarden die in een bepaalde gemeenschap gevoeld worden. Debasisemotie, jaloezie, is echter dezelfde.

Voor GroenLinks doet sociale druk niks af aan de individuele verantwoordelijkheid van mensen voor hun daden. Daarom stellen we eerwraak en familiedrama op een lijn, al zul je totaal verschillende aanpakken moeten hanteren om beide te voorkomen.

met vriendelijke groet,
Nadya van Putten

And the English translation:
Thank you for your interest in our plan 'Voorrang voor vrouwen'. Nice that you have read our 'metroplan' like it's meant to be: a safe place for women at moments they tend to stay indoors otherwise. It's indeed to a certain degree a sign of weakness, but our society is not perfect, and especially not at 2am.

Of course you're right that there's a difference between “honor murder” and “family drama”. The first is more consistent with culture, meaning norms and values that are felt in a certain society. However, the main emotion, jealousy, is the same.

For GroenLinks social pressure doesn't change the individual responsibility of people for their actions. That's why we put “honor murder” and “family drama” on one line, even if you'll have to use completely different approaches to avoid both.

I have been in touch with one of their representatives regarding this issue, since I do not think "honor murder" stems from jealousy at all. Rather, as its name implies, it stems from wanting to "clean" the family's "honor". If it was stained by certain behavior, it can only be restored by killing that person.

Since I stressed that such murders should not be treated as any other, I was asked what my approach would be. I can understand wanting to "explain away" such things and to show how it is not that different from any other Dutch person who murders. However, by doing so, you will invariably take the wrong approach to solving the problem. Dutch society accepts that a murder is a disgrace. "Honor" murders can only be solved if the prospective murderer would feel that his or his family's honor would be tainted even more by such a murder.

A plan for dealing with disgrace killings

1. Change the name – it is a shameful murder, not one of pride and honor. Rename it- disgrace killings.

2. Start a public campaign emphasizing that such behavior/murder is abhorred - not acceptable by Dutch norms. A Dutch man will not kill to protect his family's honor. A murder will bring shame.

3. Make sure women's groups that manage support centers to assist women are aware of this issue and perceptive of symptoms. Make sure police treat any such claim with the utmost seriousness.

4. "Shame" murders are not regular murders and the law should recognize that. Planning such a murder or attempting it should be severely punished.

Additionally, steps should be taken so that people who contemplate such murders will be aware that it will bring about only shame and unwanted social consequences. The following are just examples, but implementation would of course depend on the possibilities by law and research into the subject.
1. Anybody involved in planning and executing such murders will lose welfare benefits.
2. Advertise such stories on national media.

Update: Please note that the plan above is my proposal, not GroenLinks.
I did not translate GroenLinks full plan. Their proposal for dealing with domestic violence is to support community organizations. Though they discuss 'honor murders' (in Dutch it actually means "honor revenge") as a separate issue they suggest treating it in the same way as domestic violence.


Snouck said...

Very well done Esther!!


Esther said...

thanks :-)

Anonymous said...

I am a liberal but there is something I really don't like about "A Dutch man will not kill to protect his family's honor."

I have problem with such a refusal to protect, such a shrinking from revenge. I don't believe it and I don't think it's healthy. I am not saying it should be legal but let's not get on our high horse.

If I were a juror I would have a difficult time giving death penalty to a man who has taken revenge on the murder/rape of his wife, daughter etc etc. Would any decent French person convict a Jew who took revenge on the thugs who tortured that kid Halimi? I couldn't, no matter what the judge said.

It sounds "nice" to be so kind and gentle and not protect honor but I don't believe it. Revenge is natural. The problem is that the Moslem assholes who kill young women who wear a tight skirt don't understand honor at all.

Esther said...

I think you have a good point, except that you're not talking about honor.

'Honor' would require you to kill your daughter, because she let herself be raped and disgraced your family. 'Revenge' would mean that you kill the rapist for *raping* and *hurting* your daughter. I do see a difference between the two.

It's not an easy call, for me. Revenge is usually something that comes when you don't feel the law would do what should be done. Done here or there you can say it's ok, but more and more it descends into anarchy.

The riots after the Muhammed cartoons were also based on honor. There was nothing to protect besides the 'honor' of Islam. The girl wearing a tight skirt is also disgracing your family's honor.. it should be protected and therefore she deserves to be killed.

Kiddo said...

Excellent point and excellent report. The Arab (and by extention through the rather imperialistic nature of Islam and the concept as set down in the quran, most other Muslims) mindset of concepts such as "honor" and "clan" are so completely foreign to Western notions. If Muslims are to live in Western countries, we must be fully aware of their group psychology and be willing to protect the children and women, who are the most frequent victims. British Muslim women and women's groups there have been screaming in protest for the lack of police protection that they are treated to. This would be a good precedent to set, especially as those on the Left have chosen to ignore these women's rights, something they usually throw hissy fits about.