12.09.2005

A question of honor?

This is the most disturbing news story I've heard in a long time: An NPR piece on "honor killings" in Iraq, where women and girls who have been abducted and raped are killed to balance the shame they have brought on the family. There is a disturbing interview with a policeman who pulled the trigger on a 16-year-old cousin who was abducted and returned, and might have been assaulted. Actually having her examined to determine if she had been raped would have spread the dishonor. He notes that Islam forbids this behavior, but tribal customs are stronger and deeper.

It's horrifying how an upstanding citizen, sworn to uphold the law and nominally religious, can accept such customs. And while this is the flaw writ large, we're all succeptible to it on some level, accepting some injustices to get along in the world. But the chilling clarity with which this man explains that decision holds up a mirror that its frightening to look into.

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