The Burka With No Woman In It: Honor Killings
Let us pray. My God. My God. Let us pray.
My first understanding of the madness of some few from the cultures from the Mideast came here in the USA when Iranian-American women and their children fled to our shelter for battered women, one of the first in the country, back in 1970.
Their family men battered the walls and locked doors with their bodies, broke windows, screaming insanely without cease. Rage. Rage with no skin.
The bellowing aggression of the abused women’s family men… rivaled car-fulls of men who rode with rifles and hoods on the back roads in my backwoods where I grew up. At the shelter, we needed police with guns drawn to protect the women who had fled their families, beautiful beautiful women, with beautiful beautiful children with eyes like does’ and glossy black hair. How could anyone harm such innocence? How could they? How could anyone?
Arresting the men was the only way to contain them. A woman was not allowed to leave a man. A woman was not a separate being. A woman could not defy a man who was dead wrong. She just could not. Should not. Better not. No woman could do that to them, could humiliate them that way. Forgetting that they raised welts on such tender female flesh with fists and hangers and belt buckles… throwing the women and children to the ground and stepping on their faces like they were putting out a cigarette, in order to soil the tender cara, the faces under their shoes. Mad, not as in angry. Mad, as in insane.
But then there was also Tina Isa, what pluck she had and courage. Her innocence. Tina Isa, a beautiful young women, a teenager. Her family from the Mideast. She became Americanized in the best kind of ways. Wore slim jeans and pure white t shirts. With her swinging ebony hair she was a Palestinian American beauty. Truly. Straight A student.
She lived with her mother, father and older sister (who still dressed the traditional way with head covering and long dark shifts). And she wanted what lots of American girls want… an after school job.
Tina Isa and her father, mother and sister fought about Tina taking a part-time job at a local Wendyâ€™s. All three family members resisted her wish to earn some money; some she would give toward the family and some she would maybe buy some clothes. An innocent argument.
I grew up in an immigrant family, and the world of the new generation and the world of the elders are often light years away. Conflict in these matters is not the end of the world when the new world is truly new and you are young and filled with sparkling life. You’ll find a way to go beyond where your parents draw the lines too tightly. But, how to truly respect your family and yet truly live at the same time, that’s the challenge.
Unbeknownst to Tina Isa, as upright as her father acted on the outside, he was doing nefarious things. He and three other men were operating a cell of the Abu Nidal Organization (ANO), a Palestinian terrorist group, yes, amazingly, right in the Midwestern city of St. Louis, Mo.
But Tina Isa just thought her father traveled for business. She didnâ€™t know that during one trip for meetings in Mexico City, her father and others decided upon several tasks. They planned to target Jewish and American interests for terrorist attacks. They plotted to secure firearms and larger weaponry, arranging for secret storage sites.
Her father and his gang of thugs were collecting and relaying secret information and monies for the ANO, procuring passports by deceptive means so that other ANO members could travel anonymously, and particularly, to put great effort into discovering the identity of snitches in their own network who were passing information to law enforcement groups.
Meanwhile Tina Isa listened to the radio, sang along and didnâ€™t know her family home had been bugged. Didnâ€™t know that any phone call, any conversation that took place anywhere in her house was being recorded at a distance by the FBI, who were onto her father; suspecting him of being an illegal arms dealer. The FBI didnâ€™t know what they didnâ€™t know about Mr. Isa, either.
So, every evening the FBI guys went home to their families. Every morning the G-men came back to their hidden surveillance site and listened to the audios of the Isa home the night before. They just needed to amass enough evidence to arrest and get a solid conviction to put Mr. Isa and his friends in prison. It was boring work in a way, listening to the household noise of dinner and dishes, hoping the phone would ring, hoping something would break for them.
Imagine a new morning. Sun up, newly shaven, settling into the surveillance nest and taking one tape off the reel and putting on a fresh one. Imagine putting the tape of last night at the Isa household on the new box. Imagine expecting to hear the clack of dishes, padding of shoeless feet and instead hearing immediate screams…. screams of bloody murder, screams of a young girl crying and begging… another female voice snarling nonstop… the screaming and screaming while the father screamed and screamed himself hoarse, crying out over and over in his mother tongue midst grunts and sounds from great physical effort, “DIE my daughter DIE!! DIE! my Daughter die!!”
And the teenager, the beautiful Tina Isa died. Held down by her own mother snarling, while her father stabbed her to death. Stabbed her and stabbed her through the heart with a butcher knife. Stabbed the life blood out of this beautiful beautiful soul. It was. About the job. It was. Her father said, no. They argued. About. The Job. Mr. Isa couldnâ€™t bear her insolence. Better to have a dead daughter than a living one. Better to have a quiet daughter than one filled with ideas. Better to save her by killing her rather than allow her to be free of her own father and his evil. DIE!! Die, my daughter, die!!
And the mother. The mother. How could she have ever been worthy of the name ‘mother?’
And the sister, the sister who on television, said, â€˜Oh yes, Tina deserved this. It is the Islamic way.â€™ The sister who had somewhere in time sold her soul, and said all these egregious, self-satisfied things with a look of righteous breathing of rarified air… the rivalry of siblings over. She, the sister, had won. Through murder. Of her own flesh. And blood.
The mother and father were sent to prison, denying, denying, denying : We didnâ€™t do anything. We didnâ€™t do anything. Insane cum amnesia.
Pray? I can hardly see after writing this all out. My eyes could be filled with blood, or it could be tears. Or both. I fear my prayers might not be worthy, for at the moment the only words that come are ones like fireball, rending hems, pouring and pouring ashes over my own head…
for this came to me …. today. Can it be true? It came from the UK Mail. It makes me feel as I did in 1989 learning of Tina Isa… makes me feel I have ‘the sit and stare’ illness… not only because of Tina Isa and Duâ€™a Khalil Aswad, but because I know not only these two, but others, on this very day elsewhere in the world are not safe, and they are innocent. Right this minute.
3rd May 2007
“A 17-year-old girl has been stoned to death in Iraq because she loved a teenage boy of the wrong religion.
As a horrifying video of the stoning went out on the Internet, the British arm of Amnesty International condemned the death of Duâ€™a Khalil Aswad as “an abhorrent murder” and demanded that her killers be brought to justice.
Reports from Iraq said a local security force witnessed the incident, but did nothing to try to stop it. Now her boyfriend is in hiding in fear for his life.
Miss Aswad, a member of a minority Kurdish religious group called Yezidi, was condemned to death as an “honor killing” by other men in her family and hardline religious leaders because of her relationship with the Sunni Muslim boy.
The teenager was dragged outside by 8 or 9 men and stoned for half an hour until she died. Her boyfriend is now in hiding in fear for his life
They said she had shamed herself and her family when she failed to return home one night. Some reports suggested she had converted to Islam to be closer to her boyfriend.
Miss Aswad had taken shelter in the house of a Yezidi tribal leader in Bashika, a predominantly Kurdish town near the northern capital, Mosul.
A large crowd watched as eight or nine men stormed the house and dragged Miss Aswad into the street. There they hurled stones at her for half an hour until she was dead.
The stoning happened last month, but only came to light yesterday with the release of the Internet video.
It is feared her death has already triggered a retaliatory attack. Last week 23 Yezidi workmen were forced off a bus traveling from Mosulto Bashika by a group of Sunni gunmen and summarily shot dead.
An Amnesty International spokesman in London said they receive frequent reports of honor crimes from Iraq â€“ particularly in the predominantly Kurdish north.
Most victims are women and girls who are considered by male relatives to have shamed their families by immoral behavior.
Kurdish authorities have introduced reforms outlawing honor killings, but have failed to investigate them or prosecute suspects, added the Amnesty spokesman.
Kate Allen, the organizationâ€™s UK director, said: “Unless the authorities respond vigorously to this and any other reports of crimes in the name of ‘honor’, we must fear for the future of women in Iraq.”
The Burka With No Woman In It: Honor Killings Â© 2007, Clarissa Pinkola EstÃ©s, Ph.D., All Rights Reserved, is printed here under Creative Commons License by which author grants permission to copy, distribute and transmit this particular work under the conditions that the use be non-commercial, that the work be used in its entirety and not altered, added to, or subtracted from, and that it be attributed with author’s name and this full copyright notice. For other uses, contact copyright holder.