This week, I attempted to find statistics on honor murders in the United States. I could not find any official statistics, or unofficial for that matter. I did, however, find a couple of stories that have received media attention. The FBI reported that “honor” was a factor in the shooting murder of two teenage girls in Texas by their father, who were seen as acting too western. Other homicides involved the stabbing of young girls by their parents or brothers. Although some websites have reported that honor murders are on the rise in the United States as a result of immigration from countries where honor murders are condoned, I could not find any official reports.
I also found another interesting article about the reporting on honor murders in the United States. The author was concerned about the public image of the Muslim world. Third World countries tend to be in the news only when something negative happens, like a natural disaster, famine, or social revolution. A quote from the article states that, “news stories about the Third World confirm Westerners’ sense that western democracies are the only civilized societies, which provide the basics of life for everyone, are stable, and governed fairly and honestly.” They included statistics about domestic violence in the U.S., many of which that we heard last week. One was domestic violence being the leader cause of injury to women in the U.S. and other similar statistics. One that I never realized before was that there are “nearly 3 times as many animal shelters in the United States as there are shelters for battered women.” I find this incredibly shocking.
On a related note, this article brought up some issues to me that I have been struggling with in recent weeks. I find myself a little uncomfortable with a lot of the discourse surrounding the issues we have discussed in this class in that they usually occur in developing countries and in tribal communities. A good point that the author articulated is that many of these issues happen in developed countries and the United States as well. Poverty seems to be the big influence with many of our discussions, however, in this past week with domestic violence it does not seem to matter as much as with something like maternal mortality. Often in my mind, I do associate developing countries with negative things, and that is because the only things I hear about them are negative. Additionally, we also often say that cultural norms are not an excuse for human rights violations, and I agree, however, I think a large amount of attention should be given to coinciding with cultural norms. And not just because if a program coincides with cultural norms it will be accepted faster by the community, but because there might actually be some value in cultural norms. Coming from an Indian reservation, I know of dozens of programs that were meant to improve the lives of Native peoples by imposing western viewpoints of what is right and proper on them that have really destroyed ways of life and contributed to the multitude of problems that plague Native communities today. The people in charge of these programs had nothing but the intention to better the conditions of the poor Native peoples they saw. But it rarely worked out that way. In many instances, we would have been better off if we had just been left alone. I understand that saving the lives of women is incredibly important, however, I often wonder if in fifty years the Ecuadorian people will praise or condemn the Jungle Mamas Project for their influence.
Please comment back to me because I am rather confused about the issues I wrote about and struggle with them a lot.