In the Newsroom

February 8, 2010
Turkish women fight against honor killings

Gizem Yarbil.

Gizem Yarbil, an associate producer at Worldfocus who grew up in Turkey, argues Turkish immigrants may cling even more strongly to their customs– including honor killings– when faced with the difficulties of life in the West.

The first honor killing story I delved into as a journalist was of a Turkish girl from Germany.

Hatun Surucu was 23 years old when her youngest brother shot her at a bus stop in Berlin in 2005. She was training to be an electrician and she had a son.

She was born in Germany to Kurdish parents who had migrated to the country from Turkey. From the day she was born, she was confined to a secluded lifestyle under the strict scrutiny of her parents and her brothers. When Hatun was 16, she was married to her cousin in Turkey in an arranged marriage. She moved to a village in Turkey and had her son when she was 18. When Hatun decided to leave her marriage and moved back to Berlin, she knew she couldn’t return to her family home. She took refuge in a women’s shelter, got rid of her head scarf and started to rebuild her and her son’s life.

Hatun’s new western lifestyle was deemed dishonorable by her family. They decided she was bringing a bad name to the family so she had to be killed.

Hatun’s story is only one example of honor killings among Europe’s Muslim immigrant communities. A report by the Council of Europe warns that honor killings are far more prevalent in Europe than previously believed. Reasons for an honor killing range from having sex out of wedlock, refusing to consent to an arranged marriage, refusing to wear a head scarf– even having been raped.

Joschen Blaschke, the president of the European Migration Center at the time we interviewed him in 2006, traced the problem in Germany with the Turkish immigrant communities to the economy. He said that when the economy slumped in the 1980s in Germany, most immigrant Turks had to settle for lower wages and inferior work. He argued that this caused the community to become more isolated, and that many families became more religious and determined to preserve their culture, including the concept of “honor.”

In an article in 2008 by BBC reporter Alexa Dvorson about her chilling conversation with a group of boys in Germany of Turkish, Kurdish and Palestinian origin, echoes Blaschke’s sentiment.  Confronted by the reporter, a Kurdish teenager tries to justify honor killings.  “We have no money,” he says, “We have nothing except our honour. If we lose that, it’s the worst things that can happen to us.”

– Gizem Yarbil
Deutsche Welle reports on women’s groups in Turkey working to stop honor killings:




the only way for us to solve all our problems in the world is to live like the animals and plants; a part of nature. But can you imagine that? Exactly, it’ll never happen.


[…] Turkish women fight against honor killings 8 02 2010 This blog was published on the website of the international news program Worldfocus which airs on PB… […]


These societal customs are barbaric and will only stop with more education for both men and women and less isolation from world customs and opinions. More education will help them understand that what they do is viewed by the rest of the civilized world as so reprehensible, so backward, so full of ignorance, as to be incomprehensible to civilized people. Unfortunately those who need to understand this, do not read or inform themselves nor care frankly how others view them. Only further education can help stop these practices. But it will be a long process unfortunately.


Gizem hanim, why dont you call them “German women” or “German women of Kurdish descent” or most accurately “German women of Kurdish descent from southeast Turkey” (aka your imaginary “Kurdistan”) ? Good journalism is about reporting facts, not misleading readers into believing untruths. Like Tolga mentioned earlier, it seems you have an agenda to slander Turks with something Kurds do.


[…] WorldFocus highlights Turkish women fighting against honor killings. […]


Honor killings are part of Kurdish culture, not Turkish, Kurds have complete different language(not even in the same family with Turkish) and ethnicity, they are not related. Most immigrants outside Turkey are from poorest part of the country, southeast where is called as Kurdistan by some. These people do not send their children to schools, and whenever Turkey forces them, EU’s self righteous people blame Turkey for assimilating this “precious” culture. In fact, these policies proven to work and there are only few of these “honor killers” in rural mountain villages. The situation in EU is different they are even more isolated then Turkey and keep living their “traditions”.




There is no “Honor” in killing an innocent women who must live in the modern world while abiding to a strict male dominated interpretation of her responsibility to uphold in ancient traditions. These are not “Honor” killings, these are “Revenge” killings.


I agree 100% with Tolga.


You mean kurdish women. Honor killing is a KURDISH phenomenon. In Turkey, it occurs in the (Kurdish populated) southeast of the country and if it occurs anywhere else, the family background will be from that region. Why is that for foreigners, they are “poor kurds fighting for freedom”, but for “honor killings” or any barbaric thing they do, they are suddenly “Turkish”. Its looks like theyre trying to slander Turks by tagging them with the backwardness of Kurds. Disgusting hypocrisy and double standards.


Whatever it takes this has to stop – everyone must get together to stop this. It is a disgrace that such heinous crimes still continue and the society, the government and the justice system is unable to bring a stop to it. Act people….


In your segment on “Honor Killing”
the word honor was repeated so often;
and explained so civily(economics, gender,etc)
I began to believe the killings could be really be justified!

This is murder…..We need to stop making it an excercize
in civil academic discourse.

There is no Honor in Killing!

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