Honor Death – Father Kills His Daughter

This Honor Death episode was about a Noor Almaleki who converted from Muslim to Christianity and became “too Americanized” which disappointed her family.  She ran away, knowing they would kill her, but was ultimately hunted down and murdered by her own father.   Being Asian myself, I can relate being shunned by some Asian communities, so it was shocking that a lot of people in their  U.S. community never heard of this “Honor killing” including the juries of this case who did not label it as that.  It was as if just people didn’t know what it was and never heard of it, that it was silly made up thing to prosecute and doesn’t exist. But if you study world cultures, the reality is it does exists and also happens several places in the world including Europe, and I knew that since I was a kid.   Warning: this blog is a spoiler, so watch this episode first if you’d like.

I religiously watch 48 Hours Investigates and was surprised to find that they featured this story of Noor.  It is rare to hear of cultural stories.  I have followed news from the time Noor ran away, and went into hiding, but was sad to find next news of her, dead, run over by her own father in a parking lot.

Basically in some cultures or traditions, it’s common that if a daughter has “dishonored” the family, by being “too Americanized,” rebellious, was raped, leaves an abusive husband, etc, then it is her family’s mission (usually father or brother) to hunt her down and kill her to restore honor back into the family, or that she is supposed to kill herself by setting herself on fire, (which may be considered even more honorable).

Noor’s family settled in the U.S. in an Arab community when she was 4.  Her responsibilities growing up was to cook, clean, and take care of her siblings, and if she disobeyed, she’d get beaten.  As a teen, she appeared to by any regular American teen, having both guy and girl friends, which was shunned by her parents.  Her dad also did not like the way she dressed.  It infuriated her dad especially when he saw innocent pictures of her at 17 with guys in it.  She wasn’t allowed to hang out with guys as it would appear to make her look like a “slut.”  So was sent her back to Iraq and forced to marry a family friend who she was supposed to bring back, but didn’t.

Noor escaped a few times staying at friends but was tracked down by her parents and brought back home.  When she fell in love with a guy, she disappointed them again, as she wasn’t allowed to date.  She stayed over her boyfriend’s family’s house for safety, in which her parents banged on the door to tried to force her back home and threaten her.   This whole time her dad kept emphasizing  that she dishonored the family and when even the boyfriend’s family called the cops, he said something like “I don’t care if you put me in jail for the rest of my life, I’m tired of her dishonoring her family.”

So obviously, friends and extended family around who support her, knew for a long time that this was an honor killing.

When Noor was with her aunt at a building to fill out papers, her dad showed up then left waiting in his car.  When Noor and her aunt crossed the parking lot, he accelerated into them, hitting them, aunt flew across the lot, and he reverse, and sped off.   Noor fell into a coma and eventually died. Noor’s aunt broke her pelvis, but survived and identified the killer.

Noor’s father was found hiding in England and sent back to the U.S. and arrested.  He was brought to court, but the court knowing who the killer was, was trying to determine, if this was really an accident or a pre-meditated murder.  His lawyers made it sound like he regret the accident and was sobbing, calling for Noor.  But I felt he had no remorse and that he felt he did his job, especially the prison phone calls between him and his wife who said he rushed it.

Unfortunately, he was only charged 2nd degree murder, and it was not recognized as honor killing. He was only sentenced 35 years in prison.  The prosecutors felt devastated that justice was not served to Noor.

Sadly honor killing does happen in other parts of the world… communities in Asia, Middle East, Europe and now we know the United States.  I do agree with this episode that more people should be aware of what this is (as many friends of mine don’t know what it is as well).  Luckily, I’ve watched a lot of news stories and learned from school as well about these killings, that I’m aware that it exists. I hope some day when I have the resources, that this would be a cause I could help.

I know it’s not necessarily our right to tell which culture is wrong, but any murder, especially for what they define is “honor” is gruesome.

Continued to.. Part 2 – “Good Behavior”

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