Keeping count of "honor" murders

Many are calling for better registration and follow up of "honor" murder cases. It is hard to deal with an issue if you have no idea what you're dealing with. However, according to a recent interview with, Willem Timmer, a Dutch policeman considered to be the "honor" murder specialist, it is impossible to get precise numbers.

According to Timmer it is most common in the Turkish and Kurdish communities. It is a phenomenon in migrant societies in the West but can be found also in Suriname, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan. He claims “honor" murder also happens by locals and depends more on the social position of the family. The more well-to-do an immigrant family is, the less chances of an “honor" murder taking place.

[Note: before starting to deal with such murders, a clear definition must be made. I have yet to see an example of local (ie, non-immigrant) murders that came to protect the family's honor. There is also the issue that all the countries mentioned happen to have a population of specific beliefs and traditions]

The UN estimates that about 5000 women are murdered yearly to “protect” their family’s honor, but other organization estimate a much higher number. According to Timmer many crimes that seem as if they stem from other causes can actually be a case of “honor” murder or vice versa. He led a commission to investigate 300 cases of suspected “honor” murder and got to the conclusion that such cases can only be analyzed in retrospect and even then, it is sometimes impossible to tell what the real motive was.

However, much can be done to enable police to track such murders, such as adding specialists to police teams and analyzing cases after the fact. Since there are more immigrants in the police force, will that help any? Timmer says that they have the knowledge but “we sometimes put too much trust in well meaning advice of agents or interpreters, but a policeman from East-Turkey doesn’t always know the customs of West Turkey”.

Source: Radio Netherlands (Dutch)


nouille said...

Hi Esther,

I didn't know it was so bad that there has been a job position created called "honor murder specialist"?

This is very telling.

Esther said...

Good point. Well, it's no secret that politicians are truly worried about such murders. The reason he was researching them was to see if they could be counted up like the politicians are demanding.

Looking up Willem Timmer I found out that he's considered an expert on multi-ethnic relations (tensions), speaks Arabic fluently and is a board member of the Islamic site (links are in Dutch).

I'll have to read through the police article to understand it and how he view "honor" murder.