‘Price Of Honor’ Docu Exposes The Horrific Epidemic Of Honor Killings

price-of-honor-documentary

Honor Killings may be a crime that is unfamiliar to most of us in the Western world, but don’t be under any illusion about it not happening close to home. With the diaspora of many middle eastern and south-east Asian cultures spread around the world in countries like the US, UK, Canada, Australia and across Western Europe, it has now become a crime that is spread globally.

Worldwide is it estimated that 5000 honor killings happen every year, and the majority, if not all, killings are done to women and girls.

What is an honor killing? It is when a family member decides it is better to kill their own child, daughter, sister, mother etc, than bring shame on their family. It often happens in cultures and religious circles where women are forced to marry someone of the parent’s choosing, and in families who possess a disdain for Western culture, even though they may live in one.

We are seeing more and more of these crimes happening in the US and Canada, and one story in particular is the focus of a new documentary called ‘The Price of Honor’ by filmmakers Neena Najad and Xoel Pamos.

The news story of two Texas teen sisters, Amina and Sarah Said, being shot by their father in 2008 caught the attention of many, not just because of the crime itself, but because of his unrelenting attitude that what he did was the right thing, and given the opportunity he would do it again.

What did his daughters do that warranted being murdered. The answer is actually nothing, which is why murder is a crime. But in the eyes of their Egyptian-born father Yaser Said (who is still at large today) they were becoming too “westernized” and one them even had an American boyfriend. Guess that’s bound to happen when you live in a Western country eh… but oh, totally the girls’ fault here (*note heavy sarcasm in lieu of heavy amounts of profanity*).

In an interview with The Daily Beast, the two filmmakers said they originally intended to make a general film about honor killings (which, by the way, has no actual honor involved, let’s just get that straight!) but then they came across Amina and Sarah’s story and decided to focus on that.

As they have screened the film across the country, they say audiences have been shocked that this type of crime is happening in their own backyard, right under their noses. There are a large number of honor killings which never get reported, just keep that in mind. So the fact that documentaries like this are exposing it to the masses in America will hopefully educate more people to be able to identify a potential honor killing situation and prevent it.

the-price-of-honor-documentary

During the filming process, the filmmakers were threatened by the girls’ uncle, but it pushed them to continue making the documentary as they hope it will encourage more people to speak out about cases they are aware of.

They also spoke about the complexities of honor killings, and the attitude of shame that is a huge cultural boundary in many families, and what it forces some people to do.

“The AHA Foundation [created by Ayaan Hirsi Ali], which focuses on honor violence here, did a study where they found 26 honor killings in the past year. But when you look into honor violence, as opposed to killing, you can’t really get an accurate number. It goes into the thousands. The signs are very similar to domestic abuse. There is another prevalent practice in which family members push the victim to the limit until she kills herself. Obviously that doesn’t count as an honor killing, it counts as suicide. So there’s a lot more than the numbers show.”

There are some key differences between honor killings and domestic violence which need to be talked about more in our western culture, in order to identify crimes and create better legislation that will prosecute perpetrators (including bystanders) accordingly.

“Some people think it’s the same thing, but it’s really not. Because in domestic abuse the abuser is a coward. It’s more about controlling women in private. In honor violence, it’s a person who has the support of his own family to not only abuse but kill a woman. Every single honor killing, you’ll find it was never one person. Usually the mother is involved. This is something in the U.S. that we have to work on understanding.”

Aside from raising awareness, filmmakers Neena and Xoel have also created a hashtag #catchyasernow which they hope will work hand in hand with the film to re-open the search for this killer. They have also asked people to donate to the reward price, which currently stands at $30,000 for his capture. By creating this film and spreading awareness through social media they want to send a clear message to those involved in hiding Yaser Said.

“We know there are people who know where he is. We think if we can raise enough money, someone will give him up. We believe very strongly that the police department should get involved again. And the only way they’re going to do it is if there’s pressure on them.”

This is an important topic about a crime that is still relatively new to the West, but has been going on for far too long. To get a more in-depth look at honor killings from family members and women who have been close to victims, be sure to watch the documentary Honor Diaries (available on Netflix) where a group of activist women from around the world share stories in a round-table style discussion, with the aim to educate people that this is a crime that needs to be stopped.


 

One Comment

  1. Pingback: Award-Winning Docu Filmmaker Launches Summit To Tackle Honor Killings

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.