Palestinian hip hop artists decry honor killings

By Anav Silverman  Tazpit News Agency

In cooperation with U.N .Women, a Palestinian hip hop group known as DAM, released a music video last month about the brutal reality of honor killing in Palestinian society. Entitled, “If I Could Go Back In Time,” the song describes the life of a young woman murdered by her family for refusing to go through an arranged marriage.

Suhell Nafar, a member of the Lod-based hip hop group, which has performed internationally, explained that “the song is not a specific incident but it describes the phenomena of honor killing in general,” as reported by WAFA news agency at a Ramallah press conference held for the music video in November.  According to the WAFA news report, 12 women were murdered by male family members in Judea and Samaria between January and August of 2012 in “honor” crimes.

Soraida Hussein, the general director of the Women’s Technical Affairs Committee (WATC) based in Ramallah and Gaza, stated that “we live in a society that is allowing its members to kill each other.”

“The video is one of the most powerful tools in our effort to bring social change,” added Hussein.

The music video was made available on YouTube, where it has been viewed over 145,000 times, in order “to ensure the dissemination of its message and initiate debate,” said Nafar, who also co-directed the video.

In 2011, Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas issued an order to repeal a decree which had allowed criminals guilty of assault or murder in the “defense of family honor” to be treated with lenient legal provisions. In a press release that accompanied the music video, Abbas’s decree was described as “ineffective.”

A report conducted by U.N. Women, (United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women)  and the Palestinian Authority Ministry of Women’s Affairs  covering  the periods of 2011-2013, reported that honor crime perpetrators are still protected by Palestinian law, which allows criminals to enter a plea of extenuating circumstances.

Over 5,000 women die each year in honor killings, which are committed around the world against women “for tarnishing the name and honor of the family.”  In May 2011, the body of Ayah Barad’iyya, a 21-year-old English major at Hebron University was discovered by Palestinian police in a well in a village northwest of Hebron.  Her killing, unlike most honor killings, was heavily reported on by Palestinian state media at the time and “not kept under the wraps,” as related by Haaretz.

“We should throw these words [honor killing] out of our dictionary,” said Nafar in a Maan News Agency article. “No one asks the right questions, no one tries to shed the light on the human face; it is just another death. A death justified merely by the fact of being a girl,” he stated.

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