|Sarah and Amina Said: The Price of Honor Film Poster|
Around the world thousands of women and girls are subjected to avenged acts of honor violence. It is a huge price to pay when they aren't meeting the expectations of their family. Honor is a systematic approach to keep women and girls in check, oftentimes to control their chastity and sexuality. Avenged acts of honor violence are anything from raping, acid burning, cutting, basically scarring someone mentally and/or physically to killing. These examples are consequences to a violation against that system. This is not to be confused with the non-vengeful acts, though they are now constituted as crimes of honor, yet are apart of tribal traditions, such as female genital mutilation (fgm) and forced marriages.
Such traditions has no correlation with the teachings of Islam. These are practices that have been adopted and enforced by extremists and religious fanatics. There is a higher emphasis on social standing than the welfare and good of another human-being. Cultural practitioners have no qualms with discarding family if they become a disappointment. Though women and girls are majority victims, they also become accomplices to such tragedies. Mothers will subject their children to agony to restore honor to the family.
Although the ratio is small, men and boys are targeted for being homosexual, refusing an arranged marriage or marrying someone outside their culture. One must abide by honor and is beholden to their family’s beliefs and traditions. Even when confronted by western customs, they must abide by their familial ideals first. This can be quite difficult especially for a child who attends school with other American children, which are typically free to express themselves and search for their own sense of identity. In honor societies, a woman's autonomy is forbidden. At first, girls are the property of their fathers and brothers. The father decides who she shall marry. Then she becomes the property of her husband. This is a critical expectation to honor. Girls who break from this code may be disowned and avenged by their families.
Experts suggest that the reports on honor violence are not being treated as such. For example, In the United States, they are often mislabeled which hinders the investigations. According to The Price of Honor Documentary, within the western world, honor violence is mistaken for domestic violence because the perpetrator is usually family. Yet there is a distinct difference between the two. Perpetrators of honor violence feel that their behavior is justified. It is often upheld and warranted, strategically carried out by the victim's family and community. Whereas in a domestic violence situation, the assailant understands that he is committing a crime, may feel guilt, fears getting caught and would be ashamed and brought to justice by the victim's family and local community. Honor violence is a perpetuated type of violence due to the very fact that the tradition is sanctioned by those that are the closest to the victims. Family members believe that they are doing something good. They are supported by their communities. In many cases, women and girls will oblige and succumb to the pressures of cultural traditions just to keep the peace.
In honor violence and honor killings scenarios, the assailant sometimes get away. This has been the case of the Texas murders of Amina and Sarah Said, two teenage girls who were murdered by their father, Yaser Said. In 2008, Yaser shot his daughters to death in the back of his taxi cab because they wanted to love who they wanted to love and be normal American teenagers. The documentary, The Price of Honor notes that Yaser's whereabouts may be known by those that are closest to him--his brothers and the victims' uncles. These are the same people who might have helped him with his escape.
Perpetrators of such violence are often male-fathers who will disown and harm their daughters for the belief that she has been corrupted. They feel shame if their daughters are perceived as unchaste, disobedient and independent. Fifty-eight percent of the victims that are killed are accused of being too western and or resisting or disobeying cultural or religious expectations. These sort of cases are surging at a vast rate especially throughout the western world, leaving experts, educators and activists with the urgency of educating the public about this sort of violence, and the search for resources for those who pose as victims.
The Price of Honor encourages the public to assist them with their campaign to create awareness about the issue and to even aid in restoring honor to Amina and Sarah Said by helping them catch their killer. It is a sad thing when we lose someone so vital and symbolized so much hope. Amina and Sarah Said were smart, athletic, beautiful and determined to be free of their father and live happy lives. Observing from afar, you could not have known such evil existed at home. Their future resembled so much possibility. Maybe after all the hurt and pain, The Price Of Honor is that beacon of hope for women and girls around the world, as it aids in restoring honor and faith by shedding light on these violent traditions.