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Posted in: Honor Killings

Published on Dec 17, 2009 by Phyllis Chesler

Written for Pajamas Media

Europe Cracks Down on Honor Killings

Father Convicted in London, Husband Convicted in Holland - An Entire Clan Convicted in Denmark in Three Separate Cases


A decade ago in London, a father terrorized, then plotted to honor-murder his 15-year-old daughter. After attacking her twice, the girl simply…disappeared. Nevertheless, due to a British police decision to revisit and reclassify old cases, the father has just now been convicted of her honor murder.

Although her body has never been discovered, first-person testimony by the girl's mother, Hanim, by her sister, Hatice, (in a video, taken before her death), and by the victim's fiancée, Halil Unal, led to this verdict. In other words: The villains were all Muslims—but so now are the heroes.

In an amazing break with tradition, a mother sided with her daughter, not with the man who fed, clothed, battered, and terrorized her. She exposed the kind of murderous, at-home tyranny with which women are expected to collaborate. Bravely, she broke with the kind of woman's inhumanity to woman that I write about in my book of the same title. Indeed, in Woman's Inhumanity to Woman, I describe a study in which two anthropologists documented the role that malicious female gossip played in an Arab village in the targeting of a woman to be honor-murdered.

In the 1989 case of Palestina Isa (which I write about in The Death of Feminism) in St. Louis, the 16-year-old Palestina's older sisters kept demanding that their father, an Abu Nidal terrorist, murder his youngest daughter—lest Palestina's friendship with an African-American schoolmate ruin their own children's future marriage chances.

Now, back to London's Old Bailey.

Mehmet Goren, the convicted honor murderer, now 49-years-old, immigrated from the Kurdish region of Turkey. His daughter Tulay's crime? She dared fall in love—and with a man who was not only twice her age but who was a Sunni, not a Shiia Muslim. Her father and his brothers strongly disapproved of this match. Tulay then "sinned" again—she ran away from home twice, a home in which both she and her mother were routinely battered and terrorized. Mehmet's brothers were not found guilty of conspiring in Tulay's murder.

Mehmet also tried to murder Tulay's boyfriend, Halil Unal, who survived the attack. Tulay herself reported being attacked twice by her father.

According to the Telegraph, it was ten years before Tulay's mother Hanim agreed to tell the truth about her violent husband.

"In emotional scenes in court a sobbing Mrs Goren said: 'In the children's bedroom I saw Tulay lying on the floor face down. Her hands and her feet were tied. Her hands and her feet were all a purple black colour. Hatice cried and screamed and jumped on her and the two of us tried to untie her, and Tulay said: 'Mum don't untie me, I want to die'. In the meantime Mehmet had come from downstairs and said don't untie, don't touch he said."

Mrs Goren continued: "After that Mehmet said: 'So that she doesn't run away again I have tied her up'."

She also gave key evidence about the aftermath of the murder, in which she found knives missing from the kitchen, bin bags used up and the back garden of her home in Glastonbury Avenue, Woodford Green, dug over. Hanim said she was 'suspicious' when she saw Mehmet's freshly laundered shirt, as he had never done the washing in more than 20 years of marriage. She also noticed injuries to her husband's hands, including a large gash to one of his palms."

This conviction is due to an increased incidence and exposure of honor killings in the UK and in the West; to resources dedicated to prevent or prosecute such cases; and, as I've suggested, to the ultimate bravery of family members who finally chose to testify for the victim.

In 2007, a conviction was also obtained in another other honor-killing case which took place in the UK long ago. Banaz Mahmod was stripped naked, raped, and then strangled on the orders of her father, Mahmod Mahmod. Her father, uncle, and a third man, Mohammed Hama, were convicted and given a life sentence.

Meanwhile, this same week, a Dutch court in Amsterdam sentenced Younis K. (39) to nine years for having brutally murdered his wife Aisha K. (36). The court called the murder "horrible" and said that Aisha must have suffered "terrible pain." Aisha, the mother of four children, wanted to divorce her husband. He responded by "beating her many times with cricket bats." His cousin, Tariq S., who presumably helped him, was acquitted.

The prosecution had asked for 14 years in prison for both men.

A friend rendered this comment: "They asked for only 14 years?!! And he got only 9 years??!! In the notoriously comfortable Dutch prisons? Obviously, if you want to kill someone, Holland is the place to do it."

However, in terms of understanding and successfully prosecuting an honor murder as a family conspiracy, Denmark leads the pack. Last week, a Danish court convicted an entire clan in the murder of 18-year-old Ghazala Khan, a Danish born woman of Pakistani origin. Her thirty-year-old brother, Akhtar Abbas, had been delegated to shoot her to death two days after she married an Afghan man; her Pakistani family had not arranged this marriage. This was Ghazala's capital offense.

Alas, her aunt betrayed her when she lured the newlyweds to a promised reconciliation. Ghazala was shot dead, her husband survived the attack. According to The Brussels Journal,

"A Danish judge sentenced Akhtar Abbas to 16 years in gaol, and the father, 57-year old Ghulam Abbas, to life imprisonment (which, if one behaves well in gaol, is reduced to 16 years). The aunt and two uncles were given 16 years as well. Other members of the family and friends who had helped to track down Ghazala received sentences of between 8 and 16 years. Two Pakistanis who do not have the Danish nationality will be expelled from Denmark after serving their prison term.

The Danish verdict is historic, not only because the entire clan was punished but also because the head of the family, who ordered the killing, was given a heavier sentence than the actual murderer."

I still fear for the brave mother who testified against her husband in London. Since Mehmet Goren's brothers were not found guilty, I would hope that the brave Hanim is already in a witness protection program. They will surely come after her.

Thanks to Esther and Henrik Raeder Clausen for bringing these cases to my attention.


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