Another Horrific Honor Killing in Turkey – Girl 16 Buried Alive

The hole where a 16-year-old girl was buried alive by her relatives.

Turkish girl, 16, buried alive for talking to boys | World news |

Turkish police have recovered the body of a 16-year-old girl they say was buried alive by relatives in an “honour” killing carried out as punishment for talking to boys.

The girl, who has been identified only by the initials MM, was found in a sitting position with her hands tied, in a two-metre hole dug under a chicken pen outside her home in Kahta, in the south-eastern province of Adiyaman.

A postmortem examination revealed large amounts of soil in her lungs and stomach, indicating that she had been alive and conscious while being buried. Her body showed no signs of bruising.

An informant told the police she had been killed following a family “council” meeting. The girl’s father and grandfather have been arrested and are being held for trial.

Official figures have indicated that more than 200 such killings take place each year, accounting for around half of all murders in Turkey. Women and girls are stoned to death, strangled, shot or buried alive. Their offenses ranged from stealing a glance at a boy to wearing a short skirt, wanting to go to the movies, being raped by a stranger or relative or having consensual sex.

In order to understand this, one must realize that in this culture honor is equated with women, women’s sexuality and the control of women. Honor is a property of women which is controlled by men. Women should passively obey the rules of conduct accepted as honorable while men have to actively make women obey these rules. As a result, ‘honor’ is usually formulated as something obliging both men and women to behave in a certain way. Women, in terms of “being careful about themselves, especially in their relations with men” and men, in terms of “having an attentive eye on their women.”  -UNDP “The Dynamics of Honour Killing in Turkey.”

Recently, Turkey has tightened the punishment for attacks on women and girls in its bid to join the European Union. Persons found guilty of honor killing are sentenced to life in prison. There are well documented cases, where Turkish courts have sentenced whole families to life imprisonment for an honor killing. One result of this stricter enforcement is honor suicides. Families try to spare their men by forcing ‘disgraced’ women and girls to kill themselves. Women’s groups say that girls are often locked in a room with a rope, a pistol or rat poison until the job is done.

The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) estimates that the annual worldwide total of honor-killing victims may be as high as 5,000.


Why Does Honor Killing Occur? How can we end it?

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At the DPI briefing in November on violence against women this video about honor killing was shown.

In 2003, a man fatally stabbed his daughter twenty-five times because she refused to tell him where she had been following a three-week absence. In 2002, a man killed his sister after seeing her “talking to a strange man during a wedding party.” In 2001, a man killed his sister “after seeing a man leave her house.”   Honoring the Killers – Human Rights Watch

The United Nations Population Fund estimates that 5000 honor killings occur worldwide each year. Most victims of honor killings are women and girls who are said to have dishonored their families by refusing to enter into an arranged marriage, attempting to leave an abusive husband, being the victim of sexual assault, having a relationship outside of the their own tribal or religious group or allegedly committing adultery. There is evidence that some men have been killed by their relatives because they were homosexuals.

Honor killings had been reported in Egypt, the Islamic Republic of Iran, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Pakistan, Punjab, the Syrian Arab Republic, Turkey, Yemen, and other Mediterranean and Persian Gulf countries. They have also taken place in Europe and North America within migrant communities.

Honor killings, regardless of where they take place are a gross violation of human rights. In some countries where the practice is deeply rooted, ending impunity for killers and programs to change the minds and hearts of men and boys is slowly leading to change.

Countries in Europe and North America treat honor killings like any other murder, but struggle to find ways to integrate migrants into western society that are religiously and culturally sensitive. For an interesting perspective on this read: “The Whore Lived Like a German”,  from Spiegel Online International.