Deeyah has a powerful, moving article about honour culture and making a documentary film about the murder of Banaz Mahmod.
I grew up in a community where Honour is a social currency that defines our lives from the moment we are born.
Having honour is often the most sought after, protected and prized asset that speaks to the status and reputation of a family within their community. The burden of honour is most often placed on the behaviour of women. This collective sense of honour and shame has for centuries confined the movement, freedom of choice and restricted the uninhibited expression of ourselves.
You can not be who you are, you can not express your needs, hopes and opinions as an individual if they are in conflict with the greater good and reputation of the family, the community, the collective. If you grow up in a community defined by these patriarchal concepts of honour and social structures these are the parameters you are expected to live by. This is true for my own life and experiences as well.
Any strong expression of yourself, of autonomy, is not acceptable and can be punished by a variety of consequences from abuse, threats, intimidation, excommunication by the group, violence and the most extreme manifestation: taking someone’s life; murdering someone in the name of honour because their expression of the individual self was not in accordance with the group expectations.
There are people, even people who consider themselves progressive, who think that’s a good thing. I think they don’t properly consider what it means.
One particular thing Deeyah says is so sad.
What has upset me greatly from the very beginning of this project is how absent Banaz was from her own story. What I mean by that is whenever you see a film or a piece on tv about someone who has passed you will always have family members, friends, people who knew the person sharing their love, their memories and thoughts about the person who has died, they often show family home videos, photos and other momentoes. In this film that was just not the case at all.
Absent from her own story. It’s terrible.