The Root Cause

Today as part of the Nights of Arab Documentary Film hosted by Shoman Foundation, me and two friends went to see the Jordanian film “If You Want to Kill Me.”

Directed by Widad Shafakoj, the film takes you through an hour of sadness and distress, as it revolves around the lives of three women detained in a Jordanian prison not because they are criminals but rather because they are victims.

They are victims of a system that provides no alternative facilities to protect women against honor killings. Although they are three women with three different stories, the basics are the same. The three of them were poor, they were abused in their families, and they were under the threats of honor killings either because they had relations or because it was assumed that they did .

The documentary doesn’t only include their stories in interviews but it also includes interviews with legal and human rights specialists. These specialists affirm that the law only provides minimal protection for them.

This is not a documentary that leaves you feeling good about life, instead it makes you question the view society holds of women and how their lives could be in the hands of others, all in the name of honor.

In a discussion held after the film, some people voiced valid concerns for women in such situations. They said that women under the threats of honor crimes need to be offered protection in a place other than a prison. They also stated that a written and signed guarantee from a parent shouldn’t be enough to grant these women protection, because most of the time women leave the facility only to be killed anyway.

It was interesting to see a pro-active audience who is speaking in the name of women who are victimized by a social vice like honor killings. However, the audience did also contain a person who said that some ladies disserve to be killed as they should be example for others who decide to engage in relationships outside wed-lock.

We are in the 21st century , yet within an audience educated enough to spend their Thursday watching a documentary, someone has to come up with such an opinion.

What I found interesting is that such opinions turn a blind eye to the fact that it takes two people to commit adultery, two people to have a relationship, and  that men are as equally involved in the relationship leading to honor killings as women. Yet, today women bear the threat alone.

To me, the film did shed light on a segment in society that needs our attention, a law that needs to be changed, and more importantly a mentality that needs to be adjusted so that honor is not attributed to a girl’s relationship record but rather to a society that honors rights of choice, rights to a life, and rights to an education for men and women alike.

I loved the enthusiasm of the people who called for the women to have a nicer facility in which they can stay in hiding from the families that want to kill them, but this is a temporary solution. What women need is a law that makes honor killings illegal.

The movie was an eye-opener it opened my eyes on the real product of poor educations, poor choices, poor understandings, and laws that don’t force families to know better. According to this film 108 women are being held in indefinite “protective custody” in Jordan because their lives are threatened .

Events like the Nights of Arab Documentary Films are eye-openers in general  because they are usually filled with people  who want to listen and learn about the issues that matter and listening is always the first step towards action. It is nice to be part of an inelegant discussion, of course minus the anecdotes that  made by those who believe that some women deserve to be killed in order to serve as examples for others who have relationships.

Still hope is there, and this is food for thought.




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