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Posted in: Honor Killings

Published on May 07, 2014 by Phyllis Chesler

Published by New York Times

Honor Killing in the NY Times

Here is my letter in Today's NY Times. Please see my comments below the letter.

To the Editor:

According to "In Spite of the Law, Afghan 'Honor Killings' of Women Continue" (news article, May 4), neither Sharia law nor Western law has any power over tribal law, which drives the honor killing of women. This is partly true since tribal law also drives religion-based and caste-related honor killings of women — and men — in India.

But tribal tradition is also viewed as "religious" by both Muslims and Hindus, and while the Indian government has condemned and passed increasingly strong legislation against honor killings, the same cannot be said of the Afghan government.

No Afghan mullahs cry out against this practice of human sacrifice. Such indigenous practices were not caused by the West or by foreign invasions. One wonders what it will take to end these murderous, misogynist customs.

New York, May 4, 2014

This is the third letter that I have published in the NYT about honor killings in the last six months. This means that the Paper of Record is covering this subject more often--but only when it occurs in Afghanistan or India. In general, the mainstream media is reluctant to cover honor killings in the United States, especially if the perpetrators, collaborators, and accomplices are Muslims. The fear of criticizing Muslims unfairly, or of tainting all Muslims because of the barbaric deeds of some Muslims, is still so great, that we have yet to read about the history of Muslim honor killings in North America and in Europe in the American mainstream media. Hindu honor killings in India have been covered more often in our mainstream media.

This is ironic because according to one of my studies, it seems that Hindus do not bring this custom to the West when they emigrate here; but Muslims and, to a lesser extent, Sikhs do. Hopefully, as more and more tribal and Islamist customs break into print (the Islamist Nigerian group, Boko Haram, enslaving and trafficking hundreds of school girls, the use of daughters as slave property to settle debts between men in the tribal lands of Pakistan and Afghanistan), perhaps articles about Muslim honor killings in North America will be documented. I hope that such documentation will lead to the prevention and prosecution of this crime in our country.

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