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Purified by Blood

Purified by Blood: Honour Killings amongst Turks in the Netherlands

Clementine van Eck
Copyright Date: 2003
Pages: 304
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  • Book Info
    Purified by Blood
    Book Description:

    Honour killings are murders that are carried out to purify tarnished honour, the honour in question being namus. Both men and women possess namus. For women and girls, namus means chastity, while for men it means having chaste female family members. Honour killing is a widely known phenomenon in Turkey, where the Hürriyet newspaper reports an average of six such killings a month. As a result of migration since the 1960s and 1970s, we also encounter it in Western Europe (the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, France, Sweden and Denmark). This study examines in detail 20 cases of honour killing by Turks in the Netherlands. Particular attention is given to the social factors that play a role in the decision to commit a honour killing. This title is available in the OAPEN Library -

    eISBN: 978-90-485-0505-0
    Subjects: Anthropology, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. 1-4)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. 5-6)
  3. Preface
    (pp. 7-8)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 9-14)

    This study looks at honour killings committed by Turks in the Netherlands.¹ Honour killings are murders that are carried out to purify tarnished honour, the honour in question beingnamus.² Both men and women possessnamus. For women and girls,namusmeans chastity, while for men it means having chaste female family members. A man is therefore dependent for hisnamuson the conduct of the womenfolk in his family. This means in effect that women and girls must not have illicit contact with a member of the opposite sex and must avoid becoming the subject of gossip, since gossip...

  5. 1. Honour and honour killing
    (pp. 15-42)

    Zeynep Dursun lives with her parents, brothers and sisters in a village in Turkey. At fifteen, she is married off to Kemal Dursun, the seventeen-year-old son of her father’s brother, who lives with his parents in the Netherlands. The couple go to live in the Netherlands, where Zeynep finds work as a packer in a factory. After they have been married for five years, their first child is born, a daughter whom they call Sevim. Four years later a son, Erdoğan, is born. When the children are three and seven years old, Kemal is declared unfit for work and receives...

  6. 2. The victim
    (pp. 43-72)

    It is not only women¹ who are victims of honour killings, but men too.² The one responsible for the loss ofnamusis killed. If a girl is raped, the rapist is killed, not the girl. If a woman turns to prostitution, then she is the guilty party and hence the victim, not the men who visit her. If both parties are guilty, as in the case of adultery, both deserve to die: first the man, and then the woman. The man is killed by the family of the woman or girl whose honour he has violated, the woman by...

  7. 3. The honour killer
    (pp. 73-98)

    Yaşar Ayanoğlu, 28 years of age and unemployed, is an inveterate gambler and is up to his ears in debt. He and his wife, Aysel, decide to send their two eldest children to their grandparents in Turkey for the summer. The plan is for Aysel to get a job in a factory so that she can help pay off the debt.¹ Their youngest child, a two-year-old girl, will spend the summer with Yaşar Ayanoğlu’s brother, who lives in the same town. Aysel ends up working alongside Nuri Sakal, a single man living illegally in the Netherlands. Nuri and Aysel find...

  8. 4. Marriage and elopement
    (pp. 99-128)

    As Turkish marriage and elopement procedures vary from region to region, I can do no more than briefly outline them here. In general, it would be true to say that it is still quite common for parents from rural backgrounds to arrange their children’s marriages. This does not necessarily imply that they do so against their children’s wishes. Often the children have informally reached an agreement, but it is still the parents who must give the official go-ahead.¹ The boy’s family is the active party; they go in search of a suitablegelin(bride, daughter-in-law). The girl’s family is expected...

  9. 5. More case studies
    (pp. 129-156)

    The Kaya family lived in the Netherlands for years before settling in a town in Central Anatolia in 1986. There, Kaya opens up a lunchroom with Gitmez, his business partner. Kaya often returns to the Netherlands on business. During his absence, a relationship develops between his partner and his wife, Emine. This cannot remain a secret for long in such a small town and rumours begin to circulate. Kaya eventually comes to hear of it as well. In 1987, he decides to return to the Netherlands with his wife and children and to hand over the lunchroom to Gitmez. However,...

  10. 6. Alternatives to honour killing
    (pp. 157-182)

    It is not possible to ascertain how frequently honour killings occur in Turkey. The daily papers, with the exception of theCumhuriyet, regularly report on such killings.¹ Although honour killing is a common phenomenon in Turkish society, this should not suggest that the decision to commit an honour killing is taken lightly. If questions of honour arise, people usually have recourse to an alternative, so that an honour killing can be avoided.² Honour killing is the most extreme solution: it only becomes an option when the alternatives have failed and the question of honour escalates.³ The reason that honour killings...

  11. 7. Why an honour killing?
    (pp. 183-220)

    When studying court records of honour killings, we might easily conclude that loss of honour always ends in a killing. After all, that was the outcome of every question of honour in the court records. According to Gosewehr and Verheijden: “there is considerable pressure. People know and accept that the sanction for violating family honour is death.”¹ However, we should not lose sight of the fact that many a question of honour is resolved by peaceful means.²

    People do not automatically resort to honour killing whenevernamusis lost or at risk. In the nineteenth century, Westerners believed that there...

  12. Conclusion
    (pp. 221-222)

    When honour is violated, Turks speak of a ‘question of honour’. To escape the situation, honour must be purified. When studying court records on honour killings, one could easily jump to the conclusion that loss of honour always leads to an honour killing. After all, this is how the questions of honour set out in the court records all ended. However, most questions of honour are resolved without the spilling of blood. For instance, if a girl has a relationship with a boy before marriage,namuscan be purified if she marries either the boy in question or another.


  13. Appendix I. More case studies from the court records
    (pp. 223-236)
  14. Appendix II. Case studies from Bitlis province
    (pp. 237-240)
  15. Appendix III. The Turkish Criminal Code (TCK) and honour killing
    (pp. 241-244)
  16. Notes
    (pp. 245-288)
  17. Literature
    (pp. 289-300)
  18. Index
    (pp. 301-303)