Meltem Arikan

The word “Namus” originates from “Namos” in ancient Greek. The syllable of the word “Namos” is “Nam”, and this word has found its way into the English language as “Name” and into Arabic as “Nam” meaning “the title” belonging to a person. However, the word Namus has been literally translated to the English language and used today as “Honour,” and when there is a crime in the name of Namus, it is in English being defined as Honour Killing.

The loss of Namus is identified with losing any value attached to man’s name. During ancient times, women were considered the belonging or property of her man. If a woman had an affair with another man, she lost her value as a woman. This would be equal for her man to losing the value of the gold in his purse. For a woman losing her namus would make her dishonourable, and she would deserve to be condemned, punished or killed. For thousands of years, women determined the namus of a man, but the subject as of namus of the woman was never considered. Unfortunately, since then nothing much has changed. Still, women have no voice in their namus. In many countries all around the world, women wearing low-cuts or walking around with revealing clothes are the excuses to justify rape.

Why is it only through sexuality of women that dishonour is defined? Why is no dishonour attributed to a single man who harms nature? If it is all about not losing value then do men assume that they have added value when they cut trees, destroy rivers, or plunder nature?

Why aren’t men dishonourable when they are corrupt, when they destroy nature for the sake of unearned income or cut trees with no mercy and demolish the historical background of a city?

They hide all types of intrigue, injustice and cowardliness behind women... Isn’t it time to question the Namus of the men who have the mentality of defining Namus through sexuality and the body of a Woman?

You killed women, you raped little children, and because they looked the wrong way or their clothes are revealing, you still continue to kill…

And you say women are our Namus thereby relieving your non-existing consciences.

You mark off the limits of women and you clean up those who cross it as if they are rubbish…

You slaughter women just as you slaughter nature.

We know that the male dominant system slaughters nature and women to prove their potency. You carry on to fool yourselves…

Carry on to slaughtering, destroying, demolishing, raping, while believing the Namus you gain through women will always be enough to hide every type of dishonour. Unfortunately these facts have not changed in thousands of years.  

Meltem Arıkan is a Turkish novelist and playwright. Her fourth novel Yeter Tenimi Acıtmayın (Stop Hurting My Flesh) was banned in early 2004 by the Committee to Protect the Minors from Obscene Publications, with the accusation of "Writing about the non-existing incest fact in Turkey, attempting to disturb the Turkish family order with a feminist approach.” The ban was lifted after two months and Arıkan has been awarded with “Freedom of Idea and Statement Prize 2004” by the Turkish Publishers’ Association. She published her 9th novel in 2009.  Stop Hurting My Flesh was recently republished in Turkish and will be published in English in 2013.

Tags: Honor Killing

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