Congrès Mondial des Études sur le Moyen-Orient et l'Afrique du Nord

Barcelone du 19 au 24 Juillet 2010


9105 - Violence against women in name of honour (447) - NOT_DEFINED activity_field_Panel

· NOT_DEFINED language: English

· NOT_DEFINED description:

Paper presenter: Alessia Belli (PhD candidate, Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies, Italy), “Being a Muslim Woman. The Complex Dynamics of Self-Definition through the Case of Honour Killing in Italy”
The background of this paper is represented by the crisis of multiculturalism that has been increasingly dismissed under the accuse of creating separatism. Due to this supposed tendency, many critics blamed multiculturalism as the first cause for the 9/11 and the Madrid and London bombings, thus linking the crisis of multiculturalism to Islam, perceived as a threat to the West and its fundamental values. More interestingly, in the critique of multiculturalism for having permitted the strengthening of cultural and religious minorities living in isolated ghettoes and the spread of Islamic fundamentalism and terrorism, the rights of Muslim women have come to play a strategic role. In fact, when media and political discourses try to give evidence of a clash of fundamental values, women wearing hijab, female circumcision, arranged and forced marriage and ‘honour killing’ are to the fore. Western societies draw the limits of toleration appealing to the equality between sexes and associate Muslim groups with the violation of women’s rights. In this guise, the dichotomy translates into the gap between a civilized West committed to gender equality and a backward Muslim ‘Rest’ that simply doesn’t. According to its detractors, multiculturalism faces the charge of having permitted and encouraged gender based discriminatory practices. What emerges is the idea of a homogeneous group, Muslim women, characterized by submission and impotence towards a violent patriarchy. Is this a reliable representation of Muslim women? In other words, how to denounce discriminations without feeding the stereotypes of non-Western cultures as patriarchal by definition; to be assertive against the many different forms of violence against women, but avoid the image of an arrogant, hegemonic West secure in its superiority and out of self-criticism? The problem is that stressing the concerns with women’s rights can lead, in certain contexts and depending on the political agenda, to demonize minority cultural groups rather than empower women within them. According to this perspective, the paper analyzes the dynamics that underpin the creation of an instrumental Muslim women identity in the specific context of Italy, trying to explore how state actors and media create definitions of Muslim women that feed essentialistic ideas of cultural and personal identity. In this sense, the case of honour killing represents an insightful lens to address the political dimension of identity and the power of labelling. Following a feminist approach, the paper gives voice to those Muslim women who promote different understandings of their identities. The merit of this perspective is that the idea of identity based on the concept of agency and dynamism that it defends, can help overcoming the theoretical and political shortcomings of traditional, essentialistic versions of multiculturalism.

Paper presenter: Mazhar Bagli (Faculty of Art Depertmand of Sociology, Dicle Univesity, Turkey), “Honor Killing in Turkey”
Honor killings exist worldwide regardless of political, social, cultural, or religious boundaries and honor killings is a widely known phenomenon in Turkey and although honor killings occur in cities and metropolitan areas in Turkey as well as in Turkish immigrant communities outside of Turkey, the majority of cases are concentrated in the southeast and the subject started being discussed in the media. As mentioned above, unfortunately, this topic has not been studied deeply enough although it is one of the most important problems in Turkey. A few available study related to the topic were performed by female lawyers and journalists. Occasionally, non-governmental institutions devoted to women rights published reports on honor killings. In this sense, we have both advantages and disadvantages of being the first on the matter. There has been a little research to date and I realised that we needed a scientific research to get a better understanding of this violence. The aim of this study was to find out about the ‘incentives’ (motives) of the perpetrators who committed the crime of honour and custom killings and to gather information for the following questions: What were the reasons and the methods of the crime? How was it committed, and who was the killer? And finally how to help to determine the policies to provide necessary sensitivity related to the matter. Every sociological case is based on a certain normative rule and value platform. In this context, surfacing the basic sociological values in terms of customs and honor are important aspects to resolve the problems mentioned above. Moreover, we aimed to discover how the concepts of custom, honor and the sociological values were perceived and to make comparisons with others in this study. The main aim of this study was to discuss this concept in the principle of the values the killers have, their family relations, socio-financial structures and personality characteristics. Unfortunately, the opinion of public and law about the honor and custom killings do not have features to give results. However, one of the most important factors that can reveal the results related to the problem is how the criminals felt, thought and how they behaved. Then, the information that will be obtained from the people who are directly involved in the case will be able to provide healthier results. This study was carried out in the chosen prisons from all over Turkey. Individual face to face interviews with the perpetrators convicted of honor and custom killings were conducted. Especially, it is a comprehensive study which is not limited with Eastern and South-eastern Anatolia regions where such murders are frequently seen.