Saturday, January 19, 2013

The Truth About Honour Crimes? You Won't Find it in the Ryerson Review of Journalism's Cover Story

Even though, eons back, I studied journalism at Ryerson, I have never purchased an issue of Ryerson's Review of Journalism. But I happened see it at a book store the other day, and was drawn by the cover showing a close-up of a young woman's face with a large, black X over her culmouth. "DISHONOURED" is the word that leapt out at me. Intrigued, I read the statement in smaller letters just above it: "How honour-killing coverage shifted the blame from killer to culture."

Here's the link to the article by Hafsa Lodi,  "a young Muslims journalist" (as she's described). Read it and see for yourself how deftly she shifts the blame from culture to killer, and how she reserves her highest dudgeon not for those who commit these unspeakable crimes, but for the media, which, she claims, are incapable to telling the truth about the murdrs  Meaning, of course, the truth as she sees it, which, truthfully, is a whitewash of the truth.

How do we know that it's Ms. Lodi and not the media that have gotten it wrong? Well, for one thing, there's this, by Phyllis Chesler, an expert on the subject of honour killings. But for those who would discount Chesler's analysis because she is on/of the Right, there's this, from the New York Times, a media source with peerless lefty credentials. It's an article about a young girl in Afghanistan who was brutally attacked by her brother and father for reasons of honour/dishonour, but who has no memory of the attack.

Funny how the NYT has no problem calling it an honour crime, and lays blame squarely on the culture, not the would-be killers:
For a woman in Afghanistan who has broken every taboo, however, there is no going home.        
Instead of returning to a haven, it is far likelier that at least one family member if not more would feel compelled by duty to enforce Pashtun tribal law and kill her to regain the family’s standing in the community, women’s advocates say.         
That is what happened to Nilofar, another young woman being cared for in one of Ms. Naderi’s shelters. Her father and brother tried to kill her, slashing her throat with a knife and stabbing her in the stomach after she refused to marry an older man they had picked out to be her husband.         
They left her for dead, but with enormous effort she managed to reach some farmers who took her to a hospital. When she returned home, she soon learned from her sister-in-law that her brother had started hiding a butcher knife under his pillow and was plotting to kill her in the middle of the night. A few days later she fled.         
“I don’t think Gul Meena can go home,” said Hassina Nekzad, the director of the Afghan Women’s Network in western Afghanistan, where there have been 22 “honor killings” in the last nine months. “I am sure that they will try to kill her again. If her brother did this and they did not put him in jail, why would he have changed? And maybe he will even feel more strongly.”...
The truth shall set you free, as they say (though not necessarily in journalism school). Ms. Lodi is proof that it won't do so, however, unless you are prepared to open your eyes and ears, and let it in.

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