Far from the first so-called honor killings occurred in Berlin, a young Afghan woman was killed by her siblings. The crime caused a resonance in the country.
A young woman, mother of two children, Mariam H. came to Germany several years ago. She was fleeing from the Islamist terror and patriarchal views reigning in Afghanistan. Here she got the opportunity to make decisions herself and live freely, not depend on anyone. However, the European style of life was apparently not to the liking of her relatives. Two brothers of Mariam committed the murder, ostensibly to protect the honor of the family.
The case is being investigated by the Berlin Prosecutor’s Office and the State Criminal Office. The suspects, 22-year-old and 25-year-old brothers of the murdered Afghan woman, are under arrest. A spokesman for the Berlin prosecutor’s office says:
“We are investigating a suspicion of so-called honor killing. The term” honor killing “is used in Germany when a girl or a woman is killed by her relatives because, according to their beliefs, she disgraced the family by staining her honor.”
The investigation established that, having committed the murder of their sister, the brothers placed her body in a suitcase and transported it to Bavaria, at the place of residence of their older brother in Neuburg an der Donau. Then they all together buried the body of the murdered woman, where it was later found. An autopsy and examination determined that the remains belonged to Mariam, who was considered missing.
The police came out on the brothers’ trail a few days later, evidence of their involvement in the crime was obtained using the testimony of witnesses and CCTV cameras.
The murder rekindled debate in German society over honor killings. Many people ask the question – where and why does such an irrepressible hatred of European values and way of life arise?
The chairman of the board of the International Society for Human Rights, Martin Lesentin, is sure that the main aspect is patriarchal views associated with traditions and religious position. In addition, men, who have always had a dominant role, are forced to compete with women professionally, living in a free society. Clara Rigoni, a specialist from the Max Planck Institute, a researcher on criminal activities, security and law, agrees with him:
“It’s basically about men’s control of women’s sex life. Women’s sexual honor, which they believe families should protect. And it’s not just Muslim families.”
Ms. Rigoni believes that women around the world are victims of such crimes. Such patriarchal structures were at different times in different regions, she calls in this regard Southeast Asia, Africa, Latin America. There are still forced marriages there, as well as in the Mediterranean region, sometimes similar things happen there today.
The murder of a 34-year-old Afghan woman is consonant with another similar tragedy. In winter 2005, 23-year-old Khatun Syuryuchi was shot dead at a bus stop. She was killed by her brother to “protect the honor of the family.” The girl was forcibly married off, but after the birth of her son, she left the family and decided to return to Berlin. Her honor-related murder became one of the most high-profile crimes in Germany and caused a public outcry.
The current debate regarding the young Afghan woman has also reached the political level. An active discussion of the current policy is taking place on the eve of the elections to the Bundestag. Kai Wegner, head of the Berlin branch of the Christian Democratic Union, says:
“We need an open debate about integration that has failed because of archaic values that persist after (immigrants) move to Germany. Young women with migrant backgrounds are increasingly becoming victims of domestic violence.”
Franziska Giffey, a leading Berlin politician with the Social Democratic Party, writes on Twitter:
“I was shocked by the monstrous murder of a young woman and mother. She was taken out of her life because of the offended honor of the family, because she lived the way she wanted.
Bettina Jarash, Berlin mayor candidate from the Soyuz 90 / Green Party, also expressed her point of view on Twitter:
“If a woman is killed just because she wanted to live her free life, it is a nightmare crime. We must punish such crimes in all ways available to the rule of law.”
But the politician from the Left Party Elke Breitenbach believes that it is unacceptable to call such crimes as honor killings, this whitewashes criminal acts:
“It was a heinous crime, so I use the word femicide for it. It means killing women because of their gender. This is always about patriarchal structures. And the perpetrators are husbands, partners, brothers, fathers and sons.”
Beatrix von Storch from the opposition Alternative for Germany reacted to the politician’s point of view:
Breitenbach’s reaction to the “Islamist murder in Berlin” again shows that “the integration ideology of the Left Party has failed, it does not correspond to reality.
However, politicians agree on one thing – it is necessary to do everything possible in a liberal German society to make such crimes impossible. How? Martin Lesentin, for example, thinks education will help. A long-term system is needed that will facilitate the integration of migrants into German society:
“This is important because we can still see from the example of several waves of migration today that people living in Germany in the third or fourth generation still have sexist attitudes that can lead to such crimes.”
Clara Rigoni also supports his point of view – despite the difficulties, she says, it is necessary to eliminate patriarchal structures. She cites the example of Norway, where migrants attend integration courses where they are taught, among other things, about women’s sexual freedom.