Suicides for Family Honor

("Virgin suicides" forced on young women in Turkey)

"Virgin suicides" take the place of "honor killings"

Girls who "break" the moral code are forced to kill themselves so the male members of the families will not have to suffer legal prosecution.

  • Every few weeks in the Kurdish area of southeast Anatolia, Turkey, a young woman tries to take her life.
  • Others have been stoned to death, strangled, shot, or buried alive.
  • Their offenses ranged from sneaking a glance at a boy to wearing a short skirt, wanting to go to the movies, being raped by a stranger or relative, or having consensual sex out of wedlock.
  • In an effort to meet European Union standards for membership, Turkey has tightened the punishments for "honor crimes".
  • Instead of stopping such deaths, lives are being ended by a different method.
  • Parents want to spare their sons from the harsh punishments associated with killing their sisters by pressing the daughters to take their own lives.
  • There is evidence that indicates that a growing number of "dishonored" girls are being locked in a room for days with rat poison, a pistol, or a rope; and told by their families that the only thing between their disgrace and redemption is death.
  • The United Nations estimates that 5,000 women are killed each year around the world by relatives who accuse them of bringing dishonor to their families; the majority of such killings are in the Middle East.
  • A United Nations fact-finding mission has concluded that while some suicides were authentic, others appeared to be "honor killings disguised as a suicide or an accident".
  • In an effort to avoid stiffer sentences for family-male killers, girls are forced to kill themselves

  • Human rights groups say the recent trend of forced suicides is an unintended and sinister consequence of the Europan Union's pressure on Turkey to stiffen its punishments against so-called honor killings.
  • Until recently, family members of a dishonored girl, usually a younger brother, younger than 18, would carry out the death sentence and receive a short prison sentence because of his youth.
  • Sentences also were reduced with the defense that a relative had been provoked to commit murder.
  • In the last two years, Turkey has changed its penal code and imposed life sentences for murders in the name of honor, even if they are committed by minors.
  • This has prompted some families to take other steps; such as, forcing their daughters to commit suicide or killing them and disguising them as suicides.
  • Families of disgraced girls are choosing between sacrificing a son to a life in prison after designating him to kill his sister or of forcing their daughters to kill themselves; so, they won't lose two children at the same time.
—Excerpts from " 'Virgin suicides' take place of 'honor killings' "
by Dan Bilefsky, International Herald Tribune,
July 13, 2006; pages 1 and 5.

Pointing to a page about suicides Return to the "kill, murder" unit of words.