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.


  1. sc_770d159609e0f8deaa72849e3731a29d says

    The advantage of having Shakespeare as a sacred book and John Falstaff as a prophet:

    honour pricks
    me on. Yea, but how if honour prick me off when I
    come on? how then? Can honour set to a leg? no: or
    an arm? no: or take away the grief of a wound? no.
    Honour hath no skill in surgery, then? no. What is
    honour? a word. What is in that word honour? what
    is that honour? air. A trim reckoning! Who hath it?
    he that died o’ Wednesday. Doth he feel it? no.
    Doth he hear it? no. ‘Tis insensible, then. Yea,
    to the dead. But will it not live with the living?
    no. Why? detraction will not suffer it. Therefore
    I’ll none of it. Honour is a mere scutcheon: and so
    ends my catechism.

  2. Acolyte of Sagan says

    What #1 said 🙂

    Incredible, really, that the personal stories two little girls – first Malala and nthen Banaz – have been the catalysts for a growing wave of humanitarian protests even within the Middle East and Southern Asia, rather than everywhere but there, as it has been up until now. There are encouraging signs emerging that an increasing number of the oppressed are starting to fight back.
    Considering the similarities in their stories, does anybody else think that it would be a fitting way to honour (in the original sense of the word) the memory of Banaz by offering Malala a part in the film?

  3. sheila says

    I wonder of the progressives who respect control-freak murders in other peoples’ culture would also respect slavery in another culture? Being killed for trying to leave sounds like slavery to me.

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