I have just read an article about "honor killings," which includes a link to a horrifying account by a young Palestinian woman of the day when she was burned alive for becoming pregnant while unmarried.
Aside from the sheer evil of killing women in such a casual manner (the Palestinian woman writes that nine of her thirteen siblings were murdered by her family, often by her mother), I was struck by a few points:
First, that there are apparently no guidelines governing murders of this type. A woman could be killed for reasons ranging from adultery, premarital sex, dating Christians, or just appearing in public without a scarf. There is no sense of proportionality, and no sense of justice either; it is common for young girls to be murdered because they have "brought shame to the family"—by being raped, sometimes by relatives. Justice does not even enter into the picture; all that matters is the family's shame.
Conclusion: The Arab culture does not include the idea of a "proportional response."
Second, although such murders are supposedly forbidden under Islam, in practice they are tolerated and even encouraged, through the legitimation of beating family members. The article notes a thriving industry in the British Muslim publishing world in books that describe how to beat your wives without leaving a mark.
Conclusion: Arab Muslims are practiced at ignoring Islam when it is convenient to do so, and have few concepts of discipline.
Third, the Arabs have a remarkably callous—and, dare I say it, sloppy—view towards killing. Setting women on fire, or tying them and leaving them on train tracks, or stabbing women dozens of times and then leaving them in dumpsters while they are still alive, is not only fantastically cruel, it is not very effective. (Not that I want murders to be more effective...)
Conclusion: It is more important to inflict pain than actually to kill cleanly; the messier, the better.
Why is there not more outrage over this barbarous practice? Where are those brave champions of women's rights at NOW or NARAL, when their sisters are being butchered for such trivial infractions as talking to boys? How can the world stand by and allow this abomination to continue contaminating the very earth beneath our feet? What does this say, both about the Arab culture and about our own, that the murders go on?
To me, the worst aspect of these so-called honor killings is that they are often decided on in family conference. Very well; if a family decides together to murder one of its own, then the family can be punished together as well. If entire families were rounded up and never seen again after a daughter is murdered, this abomination would end immediately. After all, the family is the important thing. Let them all rot in prison together, and never be released.
Yet European governments are slow to act, because they fear being perceived as against multiculturalism. How blind can they be? And make no mistake: as soon as white women start disappearing, the gloves will come off immediately. The present situation is tolerated, frankly, because the victims are Arab as well. Very well; if the Europeans want to be so multicultural, perhaps we shoud teach a neglected American tradition to the European people: lynching those who do violence against women.
I fear for the future. Such a poisoned culture that can produce such cruelty and callousness towards sisters and daughters will have to be driven from the face of the earth eventually. Only time will tell if the Arabs will improve themselves, or if force of arms will be necessary.