An “honour” crime is a violent crime or incident that is committed in order to protect or defend the honour of a family or community. The victim (usually female) is chosen because she is thought to have brought ‘shame’ upon those around her.
It’s important to note the difference between honour crimes and ‘crimes of passion’. Honour crimes, as described above, are culturally determined. Some examples include: a woman may refuse to accept an arranged marriage proposal, she may choose to have a non-Muslim relationship or she may simply be known of as being ‘too western’. Crimes of passion, on the other hand, relate more to the individual (for example, a jealous boyfriend may kill his attractive girlfriend).
It may come as no surprise, looking at the examples above, that honour crimes are something we often hear of happening in the Muslim community. They usually, although not always, involve a male family member committing a violent act against a female family member.
Here in the UK, police forces recorded more than 11,000 cases of honour crimes between the years 2010 and 2014. We even have a dedicated day in memory of the victims; the National Day of Memory for Victims of Honour Killings.
A recent trial, however, has drawn attention to an outbreak of violent honour crimes happening in Germany.
The Trial of Nurettin B.
On 22nd May, a Turkish-born Kurd known as Nurettin B. attempted to murder one of his three wives after she asked him to provide financial support for their child. His wife, known as Kader K., was attacked in the following way (as described by State Prosecutor Ann-Kristin Fröhlich):
“At around 6pm on November 20th 2016, Nurettin B. got into his car in Hamelin to meet Kader K. The trunk contained a knife, an axe and a rope. Sitting on the back seat of the car was their two-year-old son, who had spent the weekend with him. On the street, the former couple got into an argument and he begins hitting her. Then he takes the knife and plunges it into her chest. The 12.4 centimeter long blade penetrates the pericardium and heart muscle. A second stab opens the left abdominal cavity. Nurettin B. then pulls out the axe. With the blunt side, he hits her head and upper body, cracking her skull.
“Then he grabs the rope. On one end he ties a gibbet knot around her neck, then he ties the other end to the trailer hitch on the back of his black VW Passat. Nurettin B. steps on the gas. He races through the streets at 80 km/h (50 mph). After 208 meters (680 feet) the rope breaks. Kader K. is hurled against the curb. Nurettin B. drives to the police station to turn himself in. The child is still sitting in the back seat.”
Kader K., who survived the attack despite being comatose for weeks, said that the abuse started just after their Islamic Sharia wedding four years ago. Kader K., who wasn’t allowed to leave the house or own a mobile phone, claimed: “He believes women are slaves; they must be kept silent.”
Nurettin B. confessed to the crime and has been charged with attempted murder. He faces a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison.
Honour Crimes in Germany
The trial of Nurettin B. has drawn attention to a string of additional honour crimes in Germany; a few of which I have listed below. This list is by no means exhaustive and it’s important to remember that, as the majority of these crimes go unreported, we don’t have any reliable statistics to prove just how often these crimes are happening.
There is evidence of honour crimes happening in Germany dating back to the 90s. Perhaps most prolific was the murder of Hatun Sürücü who, in February 2005, was shot in the head and murdered by her brother after she divorced her cousin that she was forced to marry at the age of 16. She was also accused of “living like a German”.
2017, however, looks to be a record-breaking year for violent honour crimes in Germany; there being at least 26 recorded crimes thus far. This means, on average, we are hearing reports of a violent honour crime around every 5-6 days. Remember, this is probably just the tip of the iceberg.
A 39-year-old Turkish man murdered his pregnant wife because she wanted to divorce him.
A 47-year-old Turkish man stabbed his estranged wife while she was out with a friend.
A 44-year-old Iraqi man murdered his daughter because he didn’t approve of her boyfriend.
Amer K., a 36-year-old Lebanese man, was sentenced to twelve years in prison for stabbing his wife to death after she announced that she wanted to divorce him.
A 32-year-old German-Turkish man stabbed to death his ex-girlfriend after she began dating someone new.
A 32-year-old Turkish man shot and killed his ex-girlfriend after she broke up with him.
A 51-year-old Iraqi man tried to murder his wife with a hammer after she attended a German language class at a local language academy.
A 27-year-old Nigerian asylum seeker stabbed a young woman to death after she refused his advances.
A 21-year-old Serbian man stabbed his ex-girlfriend after she broke up with him.
A 26-year-old Afghan man stabbed his estranged wife during an argument.
A 43-year-old Syrian man burned his daughter with a cigarette and threatened to kill her.
A 40-year-old German-Turkish man stabbed his wife to death after they argued about moving their three children to Turkey.
A 30-year-old Syrian asylum seeker stabbed his ex girlfriend. He is still at large.
A 32-year-old asylum seeker murdered a German woman after she ended a relationship with him.
A 42-year-old Iraqi man stabbed his 52-year-old wife to death.
A 29-year-old Afghan man stabbed a women to death after she converted to Christianity.
A 34-year-old Syrian man stabbed his wife because she wanted a divorce.
A 39-year-old Egyptian asylum seeker stabbed his wife to death after an argument.
A 29-year-old Pakistani refugee murdered his girlfriend because she didn’t post any photos of the couple together on her Facebook page.
A 32-year-old Iraqi man strangled his wife in front of their three children.
A Turkish man was sentenced to two and a half years in prison after taking his wife to their local mosque, accusing her of offending his honour, and shooting her in both knees.
An Iraqi man stabbed his wife to death while she was sleeping. Their five children now live with relatives.
A 32-year-old Bosnian man murdered his girlfriend after she tried to end their abusive relationship. He also abducted and tortured her 12-year-old son, and made him watch his mother’s killing.
A 33-year-old Syrian asylum seeker stabbed his Christian wife after she moved out of their apartment.
A 24-year-old Ethiopian asylum seeker stabbed his pregnant girlfriend in the stomach in a restaurant after she “provoked” him.
A 52-year-old Tajik man stabbed his wife to death after she began working at a Christian day-care centre.