I watched Banaz A Love Story, and did so in horror, confusion, and sadness. I wondered to myself, "Where is the honor, in 'Honor Killing'?" If this isn’t a contradiction in terms, I don’t know what is! To say that I felt dis-ease is an understatement.
While I understand that culture shapes our sense of self, religion, beliefs, etc., I cannot tolerate murdering someone because it is culturally acceptable for a family’s honor to take precedence over a life. Yet, I wonder how it is possible for "humans" who possess the capacity to love, get to the point where we see another human as a commodity—something of less or no value at all? How do we get there? What is it at our very core that grants us permission to proceed with such hate?
At the age of 17, Banaz Mahmod was in an arranged marriage to a man she did not know previously and who was 10 years older than she was. He abused her in every way possible. Although she had left him on numerous occasions, her family sent her back each time because it was neccesary for their honor—it was preferable that she endure the abuse rather than they endure the shame.
After 2 years of leaving her abuser and being sent back to him by her family, she left for the last time and returned to her family home. 7 months later, her father arranged for everyone in the family, with the exception of Banaz, to leave their home so that her cousins could enter specifically to kill her. But killing Banaz wasn't enough; in fact, for over 2 hours they raped and tortured her. They eventually strangled her to death, stuffed her body in a suitcase and buried her 6 feet underground.
Her father, her uncle, and 3 cousins were later convicted of her murder—this was as much “justice” Banaz could get within a legal system after her death. Tragically, she had reached out to the police, but was unable to get the protection that she needed before her death.
The quote below is from the film. It was something Banaz said as she spoke about the man she was forced to marry.
"It was like I was his shoe and he would wear it."
Her “self”, at its nucleus is
calm and courageous--
as it was at birth,
but life insisted on darkness;
extinguished its brilliance to smoke,
and shattered her “self” at its core.
Each of the fragments needful, but
in a space in time that no longer was, or is.
Their voices, she silenced in ignorance,
conflicted by their tantrums and pleas.
'Til one day the atomic rage ignited
and all the chatter spewed forth.
Squeezing her heart and lungs fiercely,
her parts demanded to be heard.
She relented and listened summer
through summer to their stories
of anger and fear.
And so it was in her own compassion,
that she led her back
to the "self" of her birth.
at a photo,
in the place
we called home.
you in silhouette
walking on our beach
though not you,
in the deep
Like a Mist
like a mist
If I listen,
so I know