Slow Painful Progress

Turkey pushed to face 'virgin suicides'

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."
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.

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...]
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."
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.

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.


  1. No woman should ever fall for a man. It gives him too much power.


  2. Hhmmm... {sighhh}

    And vice-a-versa too, AG. I just wrote a fourth or fifth Lame-arsed email which is never likely to get sent to my 'stranged wife.

    The woofagoofa mamatoofa with the green teeth was right. Appropriately immature, but right none-the-less. Romantic Love Stinks!

  3. Nah, don't send it. Don't give her the satisfaction. The silent high road is the far better way.

  4. {-; Thanks, AG.

    It is the better way, cuz we really do love one another. We're simply (and horribly) incompatible, no matter how much both of us wish it weren't so.

    I'm not sending it. I'm goin' with my head on this one.

  5. My eyebrows are lifting here (you cant see it though since I have no webcam) about Turkey since yours and Bird's post. I am thinking here- these are supposed to be the guys who are swining towards the European way of doing things? I know that have that whole Asia-Euro yin yang thing going, but this is unsettling...

  6. Dig it Steve.

    The article says the city this girl lives in now has 250,000 people, but that it's grown enormously to get to that size in only the last several decades.

    That's a lot of people living by archaic sectarian customs, ostensibly under modern secural laws. When the US went through that, there were so many different customs, it was harder for folks to find any sympathetic support for the more brutal of those old ways from their wider neighbor base.

    And even here, the christian mafias still hold much sway. Same with some of the Asian pay-in-blood norms.

    It's gonna take a lot of time, and better ideas than Violence to stop Violence. {sigh}

  7. Wow - and I pout about the ass holes here. Like when someone I worked for yelled at a co-worker (female) one day, "are you eff'in stupid?" something he'd never say to a male. That sounds tame now.

  8. ...and people claim that they are superior to "lower" animals. Barbaric societal norms based on one group maintaining complete power and dominance over another one. Heartless bastards! What a tragic situation!

    ...also couldn't help but notice: "Batman, Turkey"?

  9. I hear ya Tonya. Just cuz things are relative, it doesn't make a lesser evil any more acceptable, eh.

    I'm actually workin' on another post which speaks to subtle descrimination against women in the modern west. Remember that Harvard President's "little gaff" last year?

    Heya Blueberry, I think I learned why it's called Batman while in college. I can't remember now though, just that it's got nothing to do with bats or men!

    Superiority sure is relative as well, ain't it. {shakin'head} It's certainly not the case in a lot of ways, especially when you consider that we CAN know better than to rely on violence to survive both physically and socially.

  10. Hhmm... "It's certainly not.. " meaning we are NOT morally superior. Especially since "morality" seems to be a function of sentience and a cognitive awareness of self and others.

    It's the stuff of "philosophy" until one's "loving" parents start puttin' their ideas ahead of their childrens' lives.

  11. Very deep stuff. Thank you for posting it. First time I read your blog. It is interesting. I'll keep checking it out.


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