Sunday, August 26, 2007

"Honour"? I don't think so

There is – incredibly – a place called Batman in Turkey. Thursday’s Guardian carried a truly gruesome article on a wave of so-called “honour suicides” : young woman more or less imprisoned by their family and bullied into “committing suicide”. The official figure for “honour killings” (i.e. straightforward murders) is 70 a year for Turkey as a whole, but the real figure is much higher (hundreds each year). The “offences” for which killings are ordered (by the family) include “…exchanging eye contact with a boy or wearing a skimpy skirt”. Other “popular penalties” include “…a woman having her nose sliced off or head shaved”. The spate of “honour suicides” is due to tougher laws against killings; “…to save men from prison, experts believe families are instead forcing women to kill themselves”. Never has the word “honour” been so misused. If there is anything more dishonourable than a father bullying his daughter into “committing suicide” then I’m afraid I don’t know what it is. Things like this are entirely sufficient to demonstrate what is wrong with “cultural relativism”.


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