Code Unknown

The photo below and to the right depicts the hole wherein died a 16-year-old Turkish girl, Medine Memi. She was buried alive there, six feet beneath a chicken pen, by her relatives. Memi was killed as punishment. Her offense: talking to boys.

Her father and grandfather have been arrested and are jailed pending trial. Her mother was arrested and then released. The girl’s death was brought to the attention of Turkish authorities by an informant in December.

Turkish media reports that Memi’s father was disturbed that his daughter had male friends. Her grandfather reportedly beat her for this crime, before she was interred in the earth. An autospy revealed large amounts of soil in her stomach and lungs, indicating that she had been alive and conscious when buried.

Such “honor killings” are believed to take 200 lives each year in Turkey. That accounts for half of all murders annually in that country.

Memi was found in a sitting position, her hands tied. Her tomb had been covered in cement. It is estimated that she had lain there for more than 40 days before her body was discovered.

The Daily Mail reports that Memi made a complaint to the police two months before she was killed, stating that her grandfather had beaten her for talking to boys. Her mother, Immihan, reportedly said of her daughter: “She tried to take refuge at the police station three times. And she was sent home three times.” The photo to the left is believed to depict Memi’s father, Ayhan, flanked by two Turkish police officials.

Sources told the Turkish publication Hurriyet Daily News that Memi’s death was decided upon by a family council. These consist of male family elders; honor killings are generally directed by such groups.

In the West, honor killings are associated, at least in the popular mind, with Islam. Yet Turkey is the least-Islamicized country in the Middle East; Memi’s killing occurred in a Kurdish-dominated area of Turkey.

In truth, honor killings pre-date Islam, and historically have not been confined to regions where Islam is prevalent. Alexandre Dumas’ novel Memoirs of a Physician, depicting pre-revolutionary era France, contains a turbulent passage in which a distraught brother prepares to slay his sister, for the offense of sexual congress with a man outside marriage.

Turkey does not go easy on convicted honor killers. They receive life in prison. Whole families have been interned; last year, five relatives of Naile Erdas were sentenced to life in prison for slaying her after she became pregnant following a rape. An uncle received 16 years for failing to report the crime.

To evade the harsh Turkish penal sanctions, some honor killers have turned to “honor suicide,” in which a woman is coerced into killing herself.

Turkey has tightened the punishments for “honor crimes.” But rather than such deaths being stopped, lives are being ended by a different means. Parents are trying to spare their sons from the harsh punishments associated with killing their sisters by pressing the daughters to take their own lives instead.

Women’s groups here say the evidence suggests that a growing number of “dishonored” girls are being locked in a room for days with rat poison, a pistol or a rope, and told by their families that the only thing resting between their disgrace and redemption is death.

I have written about these sorts of crimes before.

Here is the story of three young Pakistani women who, while en route to marriage to the young men of their choice, were abducted, beaten, tortured, and buried alive by their male relatives. Two female relatives—the mother of one, the aunt of another—begged for the young women’s lives. For their pains, they were shot and killed and tossed into the young women’s grave.

This is the story—with a rare happy ending—of an “honor-raped” woman.

Singer and poetess Ayman Udas was shot and killed by two of her brothers for the offense of singing on television.

And this young Egyptian man, refused by his father permission to marry the love of his life, a woman of a “lower class,” and ordered by that father to marry another woman, retreated to his room, and there sliced off his penis.

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6 Responses to “Code Unknown”


  1. 1 Julia February 6, 2010 at 4:52 pm

    HALF of all murders in Turkey every year are honor killings? That’s really unbelievable. I suppose it is good that Turkey’s punishments are harsher than many other countries, but the situation is still abysmal.

    • 2 bluenred February 6, 2010 at 5:54 pm

      On the other hand, that there are only 400 murders each year in all of Turkey is pretty impressive. Here in yeehaw country, there are 16,000.

      • 3 Julia February 6, 2010 at 7:01 pm

        Yeah, I found the total number fairly impressive, too. If they can manage to stop this honor killing crap, they would be a shining example of peace and lawfulness. Imagine that.

  2. 4 bluenred February 8, 2010 at 9:08 pm

    Well, I don’t know if they’d be “a shining example of peace and lawfulness.” They have a reputation for pretty mean police. But the people do seem to be able to better restrain themselves from running wild and putting holes in people than ‘Mericans do.

    Wasn’t always that way. As I say in another diary on this site, the “Christmas Cheer” one I think, Turkish boys were once not even given names until they had “lopped off heads in battle.”

    So I guess there’s still hope for ‘Mericans. ; )

  3. 5 Julia February 21, 2010 at 5:57 am

    Is there anywhere on earth that doesn’t have mean police? I used to think it was just us, but after I went to Canada, I started to think that maybe it’s just a type of person who is drawn to police work, a macho, power-trip type, and so it doesn’t matter what country you’re in, just how much leeway your country gives you to go out and commit Wrongness.

    That’s rather unbelievable about the Turkish boys. It sounds like something you’d read in a bad, historically-inaccurate Viking novel. Maybe like that gag-gift book you got me for Christmas. I’m glad that practice has at least been stamped out.

    There’s a movie out now about a Turkish honor killing – a drama, not a documentary, called “Bliss”, that I want to see. DO you know anything about it?

    • 6 bluenred February 21, 2010 at 10:45 am

      You know, I’m going to have think about that—the question of whether there is “anywhere on earth that doesn’t have mean police.”

      Canada, I think, may be contaminated by its proximity to the US.

      The Turkish head-lopping story is True. It did not come from the Viking book I gave you for Christmas, but it did come from a book I gave you: Millennium, an ambitious attempt to record a world history of the years 1000-2000 CE.

      I do know something about bliss, but not about that movie. ; )


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