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article imageOp-Ed: Watch 'Honor Diaries' film and support girls and women

By Lonna Lisa Williams     Jun 2, 2014 in World
So-called Honor Killings, often supported by Islamist Sharia Law, allow men to get away with murder. No minimum age for girls to marry allow men to abuse children. Culture and religion are no excuse for abuse. Watch the film "Honor Diaries."
When I lived in Turkey for 2.5 years, my Turkish students told me their stories. I didn't even have to ask. Young women freely shared that, especially in villages in the east and south of Turkey, teenage girls are still married to old men in a wedding arranged by their parents. They often don't even meet that man until the wedding night. Some girls run away to the cities to escape such a marriage trap, but many are killed by their brothers, fathers, uncles, or cousins in what Islamists call "Honor Killings."
I met a young woman who had a vivid scar across her cheek. Her brothers gave it to her because she stopped wearing a headscarf and started dressing in Western style and dating men. She escaped her village to work as a janitor at my language school.
"I always look over my shoulder, thinking my brothers will come after me," she said. "I hope I can find a rich man to marry and take care of me. I hope he will treat me kindly."
"I've known girls who were murdered by their families for refusing to marry an older man they didn't even know," one of my students declared.
"It's happening, still, in our time," another young woman stated. "Most of the time, these stories don't leave Turkey."
Turkey is considered a modern, moderate Muslim country. Even so, new laws by their Isamist Prime Minister target women. Life is much worse for women in Sharia-ruled places. Pakistan, Iran, and Afghanistan are considered the worst places for a woman to live. Many are killed every year in "Honor Killings," some stoned to death like the pregnant young wife who was murdered by her family outside a Pakistani courthouse for refusing to marry the cousin her family had picked for her and marrying a man for love instead. Under Pakistani law, the men who did this can be "forgiven" by other male family members and not even face prosecution. In Saudi Arabia, women are treated like children and are not allowed to go outside without covering themselves with the "abaya." They cannot drive a car. They cannot have a job, get an education, get married, seek medical help, or travel without the consent of a male "guardian."
Recently, two young girls were gang-raped and hung to death on a tree in northern India. They were from a poor family, and the police wouldn't even do anything until their family members refuse to let their bodies be cut down unless justice was attempted. These were, apparently, poor Hindu girls, taken advantage of by men. "The Washington Post" reports that "Marrying off girls as young as 10 is still a widespread practice in Pakistan, Afghanistan and elsewhere in Asia and Africa, despite the prohibition of child marriage in some existing national and provincial laws." It also pointed out that 1 in 3 girls in Pakistan get married before the age of 18 and 1 in 9 get married under the age of 15. The United Nations Human Rights Council estimates that "more than 140 million girls will be married before their 18th birthdays over the next decade and that almost 50 percent of these child brides are in South Asia. Child marriage can have devastating consequences for these women."
In Saudi Arabia, a young woman was gang-raped and sentenced to 200 lashes and 6 months in jail, and the lawyer who tried to defend her was penalized. In 2005, 15 school girls in Saudi Arabia were allowed to burn to death because the "morality police" would not unlock their school gate because they were not wearing their abayas (full body veils, usually black).
Over 300 (Christian) schoolgirls were kidnapped by a militant Islamist group in Nigeria, to be sold off as sex slaves or forced to marry terrorists, and no one has yet rescued them despite a Twitter and world outcry to #BringBackOurGirls.
Iraq recently pushed forward Sharia Law that allows girls as young as 9 to be married off—often to men old enough to be their grandfathers. In America, it is a serious crime for an adult to have sex with a minor (a girl or boy under the age of 18). Some Pakistan Muslim clerics recently stated that it was "un-Muslim" to make a minimum-age marriage law for girls.
Some women, Western and Middle Eastern together, Muslim, Christian, and Jews (or of no religion), are reacting against such blatant violation of human rights. They are writing articles urging the world to "Bring Back All Girls." They are posting photos of themselves on a Facebook page called "My Stealthy Freedom" where they take off their veils. Some of the photos show these women with flowers in their hair, dancing in the desert, or posing with their supportive husbands.
Women and men are making videos that show them happily dancing without burkas (later, the "Happy Iranians" group that did this was arrested and forced to "recant"). Western and Middle-Eastern women are coming together to make full-length, documentary films like "Honor Diaries," which chronicles their own stories first-hand and handles such issues as wife abuse (beating a wife is allowed in the Quran), rape (also allowed against "infidels" in the Quran), and genital mutilation (not in the Quran but often practiced in Muslim countries), which destroys a woman's ability to enjoy sex so that she is used only for a man's pleasure or to have babies.
"Honor Diaries" can be seen in selected theaters. Check out their website for more information. Their motto is "culture and religion are no excuse for abuse toward girls or women." Of course, not all Muslims take an extremist view of oppression against women, and some Muslim men are joining with Muslim women, Christians, Jews, and those of other or no religion to put an end to female abuse. And, of course, abuse toward women does not just happen in Muslim countries. But the film "Honor Diaries" highlights how often it does.
Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani Muslim teenager who was shot by Islamist extremists for blogging about and advocating educational right for girls, appears in the film. She was the youngest person ever to be nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. We could follow her example and speak out for girls and women who are not allowed to speak for themselves.
A woman veiled in black stands next to her husband in Istanbul
A woman veiled in black stands next to her husband in Istanbul
Turkish university students with Lonna Lisa Williams
Turkish university students with Lonna Lisa Williams
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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