Good visuals excite me.
The beauty of nature mesmerizes me.
Memories of Pakistan nostalgia-te me.
Position of women worries me.
Chauvinists exasperate me.
Preachers of false dogmas enrage me.
Terrorism sickens me.
Extremists frustrate me.
Moral policing infuriates me.
The lost community baffles me.
Racism saddens me.
Political bastards need to get a life!


Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Muslim Women Fear Not Islamophobia, But Family.

Extracted text:

Police say 12 or 13 Britons - mainly women but very occasionally men - are the victims of honour killings each year. Activists say the figure dramatically understates the true number, and police agree: they are reviewing 117 cases of women who died in mysterious circumstances over the previous 15 years, many of which are thought to have been honour killings. (Police and activists dislike the term honour killings because it appears to excuse the crime, but it remains official use.)

The fact that young British Asian women (from Pakistani, Indian and Bangladeshi backgrounds) kill themselves at three times the national average for women of their age is also being studied. Could some of these deaths be hidden murders, or suicides imposed on a woman to restore her family's honour?

In 2006 one in 10 of 500 young British Asians told the BBC that honour killings could be justified. Nazir Afzal of the Crown Prosecution Service and a leading prosecutor of honour crimes says that when he began work on such cases, "I thought it was an imported practice that would die out when the elder generation [of a migrant community] died. But many of the young people tell me shocking things."

For example, a young Sikh man told Afzal: "A man is a piece of gold and a woman is a piece of silk. If you drop a piece of gold into the mud you can polish it clean. If you drop a piece of silk into mud it is stained forever."

At that time attitudes to forced marriages and honour killings were more negligent than they are today. Only one in five homicide cases led to a conviction for murder; the rest for manslaughter. But in 2000, a spate of high-profile forced marriage cases led the Blair government minister Mike O'Brien to say "multicultural sensitivity is no excuse for moral blindness". Then came the murder of Heshu Yones.

Sitting in court, Nammi felt angry. "So-called cultural sensitivity is a way of letting women down," she says. "Why should any woman not have the same rights as a British woman? Murder is murder."

Nammi says the women she represents "are very brave. They make a huge decision to stand against their community. They know they have brought shame on their family, but they still stand up for their rights. They have fallen in love".

But Ghayasuddin Siddiqui, of the Muslim Parliament of Britain, says the issue is "not about Islam but about a tribal, rural mindset that says women belong to men and men must at all costs be obeyed".

Afzal, a practicing Muslim from a Pakistani family, agrees, saying nothing in the Koran supports honour crimes: "It's the exact opposite". But he says some families will use Islam to justify their authority, telling a daughter that having a boyfriend is un-Islamic.

Yet the killings go on. Just last month a coroner ruled that 17-year-old Shafilea Ahmed of Cheshire had been murdered after she had defied her parents. They wanted her to marry a man in Pakistan; she wanted to study law. Just three days ago, Nammi received a text message that said: "I am an Iranian woman who needs confidential information. Please help me."

The text says it all.

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