Lack of coverage on “honour killings” shames us all

December 9, 2010 § Leave a comment

Having the word “honour” associated with any type of crime is a contradition in terms, and honour killings have to be one of the least spoken about crimes against women, in my opinon.

A report from the UN finds today that Afghan women are still at massive risk of violence and “honour” crimes. The government is simply not doing enough to protect women – probably because they are not really adressing issues like education or financial independence, which have the power to place women in a much stronger position than simply bringing in a new law – which they have done. Laws are easy to bring in, but not to enforce, particularly in a difficult scenario like this which delves into the heart of private communities.

Women in Afganistan

The other day I was on the Stop Honour Killings site, and with less than five minutes on it you can see examples of recent honour crimes in Iraq, the UK, India, Kurdistan, Bangladesh, Brazil, Ecuador, Israel, Jordan, Morocco, Pakistan, Sweden, Turkey and Uganda  – and it really hammers home that this is a worldwide  issue. This site has a gallery of victims on its homepage of honour killings, and it makes chilling viewing to see so many women assualted or killed in the most gruesome of circumstances, in cases that never made it into the papers.

Perhaps because it goes on typically within smaller or more private communities, or perhaps because they frequently take place in Islamic communities where the press is wary to probe, these crimes just don’t seem to get the press coverage you’d think they would.

Our real shame in these crimes is that we just don’t hear enough about them – shocking when the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) estimates that as many as 5,000 women and girls a year are murdered by members of their own families. Many women’s groups in the Middle East and Southwest Asia suspect the victims are at least four times more. So, as many potentially as 20,000 women and girls are directly affected – and many reports suggest that incidents are increasing in the last 20 years. The victim’s family members – male and female, guilty or innocent – are affected. Their communities are affected, by implication their economies are affected, and the country is affected.  

How many more people have to be affected before this stops being a “women’s issue?”


Remembrance day needs more work to truely remember

November 14, 2010 § Leave a comment


I didn’t buy a poppy this year. Usually I buy one mainly for my grandad – he fought in World War Two and lost several members of friends and family. He is no longer with us, but I buy one in memory of him.

This year, I made a donation instead to a different charity – to the charity War Child, which does pretty much what it says on the tin. I don’t have anything against the Poppy Charity. But I resent the glorification of war – and I don’t think we think enough here in the UK whether we are remembering the right things. I don’t want to forget the freedom that was fought for. And I think what we really need to remember today are countries that don’t have that same freedom.

On this remembrance Sunday, I’d urge you all to remember the people nobody remembers, who don’t have memorials, and don’t get pages in the press. The thousands of women who have been raped in the civil war in the Congo  – the estimated 108,000 civilians killed since the beginning of violence in Iraq. More than 600 civilians killed in civil war in Liberia this year alone.

War Child says it “looks forward to a world where the lives of children are no longer torn apart by war.” The charity works in DRC, Uganda, Iraq and Afghanistan, with children who have been raped, abused, abandoned, orphaned, forced to become child soldiers, prostitues, beggers. I don’t have any problem with Remembrance Day. But please, let’s widen the remit to remember everyone who has suffered and sacrificed in wars worldwide – not just in the Western world.

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