Philobiblon: Honour killings

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Honour killings

An excellent piece in today's Observer, Death before dishonour, about honour killings in a variety of cultures, and among communities that have brought those cultures to Britain.

I started to count up the number of countries around the world in which such attitudes (if not always carried to these extremes) prevail, but it was so depressing that I had to stop. (When I lived in Thailand I learnt the lovely Thai proverb: "Having a daughter is like having a toilet in your front yard.")

Then again, looked at the other way, there are quite a number of countries where such attitudes used to prevail but from which they have almost entirely been banished. The Observer makes the point that: "Not so long ago, British women could be locked in mental asylums for getting pregnant out of wedlock; in living memory in the UK, it was preferable to have a daughter who was mad than one who was bad." (And there were also the horrific Magdalene laundries in Ireland, about which Joni Mitchell wrote.


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