January 14, 2007

Turkey Works to Stop "Honor" Killings

From Turkey Works to Stop "Honor" Killings: The killing of women and girls by male relatives who think the females have brought shame to the family's honor is an atrocity that has plagued Turkey and other Islamic countries for generations. Thousands of women have died, been attacked or compelled to commit suicide in so-called honor killings. In Turkey, the government has launched a major campaign against honor killings, at a level and with a breadth virtually unheard of in the Islamic world. Turkish imams have joined pop music stars and soccer celebrities to produce TV spots and billboard ads condemning all forms of violence against women, and the nation's top Islamic authority has declared honor killing a sin. Last year, jail sentences for men and boys who commit the crime were stiffened, and new provisions in the penal code make it harder for a court to reduce sentences. In cities and towns with the highest honor killing rates, officials working with advocacy groups are holding town hall meetings and setting up rescue teams and hotlines for endangered women and girls. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the head of an Islamist-rooted party, went before the Organization of the Islamic Conference in November to condemn honor killings as a scourge that must be eradicated from Islamic societies.