- Posted April 15, 2014 by
New York, New York
There Is No Honor In Violence
Honor-based violence is a phenomenon where a person (most often a woman) is subjected to violence by her collective family or community in order to restore ‘honor’, presumed to have been lost by her behavior.
Geographically, culturally, religiously, socially, and generationally, honor based violence varies in degree of severity. Women living under such criminal traditions are limited in their expressions of personal autonomy. More often than not, the consequences and repercussions for defying the code of “honor” are far worse than living under its implications. This is a violation of human rights at its most personal and intimate level.
When a woman lives under laws that condone misogyny and deny equal opportunities for educational, social, economical advancement, she is essentially powerless. Where honor based violence is prevalent, family and society predominates over the individual, and therefore any individualistic choice which challenges the collective identity and aims of the family are be considered selfish and a violation of that family’s honor.
Potential sites of conflict between the individual and the family may include:
Choice of sexual/marital partner
Education and employment
Behavior and contact with the opposite sex
Rejecting a forced marriage
Pregnancy outside of marriage
Leaving a spouse or seeking divorce
Kissing or intimacy in a public place
General conformity to the family and community’s culture and expectations
Honor Diaries is first film to break the silence on honor violence, an insidious human rights issue that impacts millions of women and girls around the world. Honor violence can take many forms – beatings, female genital mutilation, child marriage, even murder – and occurs in many places, including here in the United States. To me, no progressive social movement or change can ever be initiated without fair dialogue and viewing of facts, as shocking as they may seem. Now, more than ever, we need to unite to address what is the largest human rights violation that is occurring in our world.
To be clear, this abuse is not sanctioned by any particular religion – a point that is clearly established in Honor Diaries. The film-makers went through great lengths to help ensure that this film is fair, balanced, and truthful, and does not take a position on whether it’s culture or religion that’s at play. Rather it is a widespread practice, mistakenly labeled “culture”, that occurs throughout the world. Indeed, the Honor Diaries tagline is “culture is no excuse for abuse.” The goals of the film were to break the silence about honor based violence, to give women the courage and motivation to speak out, to address the misogyny that exists within societies, to educate people that these issues actually occur, and to remind people that when women’s rights are violated in a society, nobody wins.
Being a voice for the millions of women who are subjugated to violence in the name of honor is called advocacy. Honor Diaries provides a fair for open discussion, and opening the door to allow others to join a movement. One of the key messages of this film is that people of all backgrounds and perspectives should be aware of and comfortable talking about this issue. And in places where they can’t speak out, the film is doing it for them.
Choices, opportunities, and resources are what gives us as humans a chance to live a better life. When those are limited, compromised, or withheld, how much progress can we truly make? A perfect example is the recent movement to pass the Jaafari Personal Status Law in Iraq, which will legalize child marriage, marital rape, and false imprisonment. I remind everyone, please, do not allow governments slide into a vicious cycle of abuse against women and girls. Let us not regress after advancing two steps forwards, as history has shown time and time again that when women’s rights are subjected to subjugation and oppression, entire societies fail.
I’ve attended nationwide screenings of Honor Diaries, and have seen people around the world embrace it and its message. I have met survivors of honor based violence such as FGM and forced marriage after screenings that credit the film as their source of support and strength for now speaking out. With me, they have joined the movement committed to end violence against all women throughout the world, because culture should never be an excuse for abuse. When we unite for what is the most significant human rights violation globally, empowerment is shared and becomes a powerfully resourceful tool. And I hope you can join me to champion this cause.