August 31, 2006

A tragic local event
Dr. Kamal Artin

Without knowing the details of a recent tragic event in which an immigrant form Eastern Kurdistan took the lives of his wife and his mother in law, I suspected honor killing. This type of crime is an undeniable shameful cultural handicap in remote areas of Kurdistan . Such a handicap might very well be the product of a non-adoptive or at least misrepresented culture that was introduced to Kurdistan many centuries ago after her brutal invasion. I looked at my own sentence and questioned why I spontaneously used the word shameful to describe such a cultural handicap. The Kurdish collective unconscious with tendency to value ethics as well as the individualistic subconscious defense mechanism that generalization is unjustified came to my mind!

One definition of honor killing is: “an ancient Muslim tradition still sometimes observed; a male member of the family kills a female relative for tarnishing the family image” (1). Human Rights Watch has a broader definition for such crimes: “Honor crimes are acts of violence, usually murder, committed by male family members against female family members who are perceived to have brought dishonor upon the family. A woman can be targeted by her family for a variety of reasons including, refusing to enter into an arranged marriage, being the victim of a sexual assault, seeking a divorce -- even from an abusive husband -- or committing adultery. The mere perception that a woman has acted in a manner to bring "dishonor" to the family is sufficient to trigger an attack” (2).

Reportedly each year about 5000 females become the victim of honor killing around the world (2). This frightenting international statistic reminds us that it is not the ethnic background of an individual that leads to such tragedies but possibly the individual’s own vulnerability, the more hostile male gender, and the lack of understanding of one’s own culture that has been influenced by an invading foreign culture many centureis ago.

In the current case, we still do not know if fanticism, jealousy, inotoxication, post tramatic stress syndrome, depression, mania, psychosis or any other mental diorder led to such a violent behavior. Our job as concerned citizens is not to judge such individuals but let the medical and legal system make a determination. While in an underdeveloped country individuals might be guilty until proven otherwise and capital punishment might be an immediate reaction to suspected murder, in a civic society even a murderer is innocent until proven guilty and imprisonment for life is the punishment for such criminals who are sane. For now the best we can do is to wish the family of the victim much endurance to overcome their tragic loss, which is the loss of any human being with a conscious mind.

A memorial ceremony will be held for the victims on Thursday, 31 August 2006 from 6:30-9:30 p.m  at Evecina Cultural and Educational Foundation (Address: 15560-A, Rockfield Boulevard , Irvine , CA 92618 , Phone: 949-454-1555)


Honor killing. (n.d.). WordNet® 2.0. Retrieved August 30, 2006, from
Honor killing. (n.d.). Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Retrieved August 29, 2006