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Phyllis Chesler
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Posted in: Islamic Gender & Religious Apartheid, Feminism, Honor Killings

Published on Sep 14, 2021 by Phyllis Chesler

Published by Dignity: A Journal of Analysis of Exploitation and Violence

Honor Killing: A Form of Femicide

THE WORD FEMICIDE IS NOT YET RECOGNIZED by spellcheck. Every time I use it, I am met with an angry red underline. This presents something of a disincentive for its use. We might say that the resistance to this concept begins in Silicon Valley. However, the word does appear in the dictionary.

I am not certain why I began to study honor killings. They are quintessential femicides, except among Hindus (but only in India) where men are often also killed for having violated caste rules.

Perhaps my inquiry had something to do with my own long-ago captivity in Kabul about which I’ve written in An American Bride in Kabul (2013). I had witnessed woman-hating at ground zero and one can never forget it (Chesler, 2006).

Like many other American feminists, I was also active in the civil rights and antiwar movements—but unlike most feminists, I had "once lived in a harem in Afghanistan." This is the opening sentence of my book An American Bride in Kabul (2013). I lived with my mother-in-law in a polygamous household in rather posh purdah; this meant I was not allowed out without a male escort. My father-in-law had three wives and twenty-one children—facts my Westernized husband failed to mention during our long American college courtship. I saw women in burqas stumbling around on the streets of Kabul, and pre-Rosa Parks, forced quite literally to sit at the back of the bus.

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