In the end, Derya appears to be one of the luckier of the young women who, despite having lost their homes, family and everything which they once loved and believed about the world, have found a chance to live as free human beings.
By Dan Bilefsky International Herald Tribune
Published: July 12, 2006
BATMAN, Turkey For 17-year-old Derya, a waif-like woman, the order to kill herself came from an uncle and was delivered in a text message to her cellphone. "You have blackened our name," it read. "Kill yourself and clean our shame or we will kill you first."
Derya says her crime was to fall for a boy she met at school. She knew the risks: Her aunt had been killed by her grandfather for seeing a boy. But after being cloistered and veiled for most of her life, she says, she felt free for the first time and wanted to express her independence.
When news of the love affair spread to her family, she says her mother warned her that her father would kill her. But she refused to listen. Then came the threatening text messages, sent by her brothers and uncles, sometimes 15 a day. Derya says they were the equivalent of a death sentence.
Consumed by shame and fearful for her life, she says she decided to carry out her family's wishes. First, she said, she jumped into the Tigris River, but survived. Next she tried hanging herself, but an uncle cut her down. Then she slashed her wrists with a kitchen knife.
"My family attacked my personality and I felt I had committed the biggest sin in the world," she said from a women's shelter where she traded in her veil for a T-shirt and jeans. She declined to give her last name for fear her family is still hunting her. "I felt I had no right to dishonor my family, that I have no right to be alive. So I decided to respect my family's desire and to die."
But she isn't throwing her entire past away. At least not yet. I certainlly can't blame her for anything after what she's been through.
[the ending...]She still has her religion, and I've heard many interpretations of Islam which support the idea that Mohammed himself wanted relative equality for men and women within the society he envisoned.
Derya said the deep problem is inequality between the sexes, even though the Prophet Muhammad argued in favor of empowering women.
"In my village and in my father's tribe, boys are in the sky while girls are treated as if they are under the earth," she said. "As long as families do not trust their daughters, bad things will continue to happen."
However it is achieved, this utterly insane way of life, one which enslaves, tortures and destroys the lives of its young women in order to maintain its practitioners' terrified and ignorant status quo, can only be ended, or at least remediated, by those leaders and imams of the fundamentalist religious faith to which these folks claim such a bloody adherance.