OP-ED: Another ‘Honor Killing’ In A Family

A young girl died yesterday at the hands of – again – her own father for the perceived insult to his family’s honor. When will we learn?

OP-ED: Another ‘Honor Killing’ In A Family

A young girl died yesterday at the hands of – again – her own father for the perceived insult to his family’s honor. When will we learn?

By

Saleha Bakht
Art - Ameer Al-Khatahtbeh

Disclaimer: every article expressed in our opinions section is that of the writer, and doesn’t represent the view of our publication.

Again, a young girl died yesterday at the hands of – again – her own father for the perceived insult to his family’s honor. When will we learn?

Romina Ashrafi, a teenager from the small town of Talesh, Northern Iran, was allegedly murdered by her father Reza Ashrafi to “protect his family’s honor.” 

Beyond the rehashed topics of gender and honor-based violence, beyond talking about discrimination in culture or religion again, or what the definition of honor is, let’s talk for a minute about our children.

This 14-year-old girl in question eloped with a man at least twice her age, and after being caught by Iranian police officers, was sent home to her father who murdered her that same night.  

We’ve said it a million times: there is no world in which this is okay. We need to end child marriages, child abuse we need to end domestic violence, misogyny, sexism, pedophilia.

We need to check ourselves and the people around us to be sure that we are not the predator in some future situation. We need to check that we are not the family pushing our vulnerable members into the arms of strangers.  

There’s a quote from the Prophet Muhammed (PBUH) that reads, “Whosoever of you sees an evil, let him change it with his hand; and if he is not able to do so, then with his tongue; and if he is not able to do so, then with his heart…”

And this is a reality check that is up to us, that only we can do for ourselves. It takes a village to raise a child. So let’s be better for the children in our lives.

With our hands, let’s show our neighborhood children that hands should only be used to build and do constructive things. Let’s help our own families and set an example for how families should treat each other. At least they’ll know the future can be good.

With our mouths, let’s communicate effectively. Let’s resolve conflict in front of our children. Show them that mouths aren’t just used to yell at other people and that yelling on its own is no good. Let’s show them what peaceful resolution looks like and what they should look for in respectful relationships and what they need to be looking for with their own partners.  

With our hearts, lets pray and hope and find the motivation within ourselves to set the example for a better future that isn’t generations away. This is a change we can make within our own lifetimes. This is an example that we can start making in small steps as soon as we finish reading this article.

To be sure, some people will ask why should I care about a girl that died across an ocean? Why should I start caring about kids that aren’t mine?

Romina Ashrafi isn’t just another girl. The same way Aqsa Pervez isn’t just another girl in Mississauga. Nesreen Irsan isn’t just another girl murdered in Texas. Banaz Mahmod isn’t just another dead girl in London. These are all girls murdered by family. Some of these girls even told the police that they worried they would be murdered by family and the police sent them home anyway.

These aren’t just other girls. They’re our girls. They needed our care and our attention. They reached out and didn’t get the help they needed and that’s on us as the living. We can say it until we’re blue in the face; “If you’re being bullied at home or at school, tell an adult.” But are we even adults that listen?

Do we say, “I hear you, dear, but it can’t be that bad, go home”? Do we shoo them away with our hands? In our hearts and in our minds, do we think, “Please don’t bother me with this. What can I say to get you to leave me alone right now?”

Only to turn around the next day over the news of a dead kid and say in a plaintive manner, “I would have never have let them go home if I had just known.”

If we can’t hear when the children of our world try to tell us something, we need to work on opening our ears. We need to actively remind our hearts every moment to think of the people around us; to think of the tiny eyes that may be watching; the impressionable brains that are learning before they can even crawl. We need to remind ourselves again and again to be responsible with our words and our gestures all the time, especially when we’re tired.

How soon until we are the ones that our neighborhood’s children turn to to say something is wrong? And, when that happens, what will we do? Or are we the adults who will – again – just say, “go home”?

READ MORE: ‘Honor Killing’ Of 14-Year-Old Romina Ashrafi Sparks Outrage Across Iran