Another day, another honor killing

A 17-year-old Iraqi was brutally murdered by her father for developing a crush on a British soldier. Does he have any regret?


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Catherine Price
May 15, 2008 8:40PM (UTC)

When I saw this article in the Observer about another honor killing in Iraq, my first instinct was to skip past it. I mean, what new is there to say about the horrific practice of killing women in the name of "honor"? But then it occurred to me that this is a topic where it doesn't really matter if there's nothing new to say -- it's important to recognize that this shit is happening in hopes that, by keeping this issue in people's consciousness, eventually we can stop it.

Here's the deal: A 17-year-old Iraqi named Rand Abdel-Qader became infatuated with a British soldier in Basra. When her father found out that she had a crush on the guy -- and that she had been seen speaking (yes, speaking) with him in public -- he was so angry that, as the Observer puts it, he "stamped on, suffocated and then stabbed his student daughter to death." When Rand's horrified mother asked her two sons to try to rescue their sister, they instead helped Abdel-Qader kill her. And when the father was arrested, not only was he released after two hours, but -- according to Abdel-Qader -- the police congratulated him on what he had done. When Rand's shrouded corpse was thrown into a makeshift grave, her uncles spat on it in disgust.

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So. There's that. But the Observer piece takes things a step further by going back to Rand's father to ask if he feels any remorse over what he has done. Any guesses on his response? Think maybe he harbors a little bit of regret over brutally murdering his only daughter? Here are some choice quotes:

-- "Death was the least she deserved ... I don't regret it. I had the support of all my friends who are fathers, like me, and know what she did was unacceptable to any Muslim that honors his religion."

-- "I don't have a daughter now and I prefer to say that I never had one. That girl humiliated me in front of my family and friends. Speaking with a foreign soldier, she lost what is the most precious thing for any woman."

-- "I have only two boys from now on. That girl was a mistake in my life. I know God is blessing me for what I did ... My sons are by my side, and they were men enough to help me finish the life of someone who just brought shame to ours."

-- "Everyone knows that honor killings are sometimes impossible not to commit."

-- "If I had realized what she would become, I would have killed her the instant her mother delivered her."

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(All the above quotes are egregious, but this one sticks out to me. What she would become? Seems to me that by developing a crush, all Rand was becoming was a woman. One could argue that when you give birth to a baby girl, that transition shouldn't come as too much of a shocker -- but perhaps I'm just showing my biased opinion that having ovaries should not preclude you from being treated like a human being.)

When Abdel-Qader's wife (Rand's mother) told him she was divorcing and leaving him for murdering their daughter, he beat her so severely that he broke her arm. Now Abdel-Qader has supposedly been temporarily asked to leave his job at -- I'm not kidding -- the health department. But rumor has it that not only is he continuing to receive a paycheck, but he has been given money by a local politician to "disappear" to Jordan for a few weeks till this whole thing blows over. According to the Observer, this is a "usual practice in the 30-plus cases of 'honor' killings that have been registered since January alone."

If you're horrified by this and want to learn about possible ways to help, two places to start are the Iranian and Kurdish Women's Rights Organization and Stop-Stoning.org. Readers, if any of you knows of other good organizations working to prevent honor killings (and help survivors, like Rand's mother), let us know.


Catherine Price

Catherine Price is an award-winning journalist and author of Vitamania: How Vitamins Revolutionized the Way We Think About Food. Her written and multimedia work has appeared in publications including The Best American Science Writing, The New York Times, Popular Science, O: The Oprah Magazine, the Los Angeles Times, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Washington Post Magazine, Salon, Slate, Men’s Journal, Mother Jones, PARADE, Health Magazine, and Outside. Price lives in Philadelphia.

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