Rumors Can Kill

الخميس 23 تشرين الأول 2008

Written By: Ola Eliwat

“She was in the car with him when her brother caught her in the act.”

“I’m not assuming anything, but it’s obvious there’s something wrong about her.”

“She had it coming, if you ask me! I always sensed she was hiding something.”

Many times we hear things like this, from neighbors, friends, relatives or even when we overhear two perfect strangers chatting the time away while waiting for a bus. It is established we do hear this all the time, but the question is, how often do we question the source of that gossip, or wonder about its consequences.

The sad fact is, many of us tend to take this lightly. We use gossip as a pastime and think that it’s OK to mention a rumor or too as long as we make it clear that we’re not sure about it and that it’s just a rumor, forgetting the most important feature of rumors: they snowball. So, you hear something, think it could be an interesting material for conversation over a cup of coffee and, after all, what’s the worst that could happen?

To answer that, let’s think of the latest honor crimes that took place recently in Jordan. An uncle shot his niece dead because he “suspected” she was involved in an illegitimate affair. Well, that’s just one case in point, the girl is dead and, there’s no telling yet if that’s the worst that could happen.

I’m sure you’ve read or heard about other honor crimes that took place in Jordan, but have you ever thought how many times did the news include the word “suspected”? I’m not an expert, but I know this much: no Religion and no law on earth would impose a punishment on any person based on suspicion, and yet, if someone kills his sister or daughter because he “suspected” something, he still manages to get away with a slap on the wrist, only by adding the magical word to his crime, “Honor.”

To avoid any confusion, I must point out that honor crimes are still unacceptable whether they were based on suspicion or actual facts. However, I’m trying to highlight the role of gossip and rumors in creating such crimes or other hideous acts against the girls in our society. You may have never actually dealt with someone who shot his sister because he heard something about her, but you may have stood in line next to a girl who got banned from going to school or got beaten half to death over something she didn’t do. I personally know a girl whose father didn’t allow her and her sisters to study beyond the tenth grade out of fear for his/their “honor.” I don’t know what they call that, but I think that it can also be called an “honor crime.”

The following movie, Dandana, tackles the issue of rumor and gossip in creating such situations and disturb the peace of families. It may start as small as a molehill and end up as huge as a mountain. You never know how it started or how it will end.

Dandana was done by Fekra, a group of Jordanian youth who don’t have much, but are trying to make the best of what they have to carry their ideas to the world. Dandana is the group’s first movie.

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  • Well written! I agree with your opinion that people who pull their daughters out of school for ‘honor’ reasons should be charged with honor crimes themselves. I enjoyed reading that – keep it up!

  • Well written! I agree with your opinion that people who pull their daughters out of school for ‘honor’ reasons should be charged with honor crimes themselves. I enjoyed reading that – keep it up!

  • Ola, Fekra, THANK YOU!

  • Ola, Fekra, THANK YOU!

  • I’d love to see more from this group.

  • I’d love to see more from this group.

  • Ola

    Actually we are preparing something new, this time in collaboration with RFC

  • Ola

    Actually we are preparing something new, this time in collaboration with RFC

  • Worood

    Ola Its really good, i liked it a lot, and its really true. I heard about a girl who got shot by her brother in front of her parents, bcoz he heard that she has a cell phone and she uses it to call guys when she goes to University. so sad.
    Can’t wait to watch what’s next…

  • Worood

    Ola Its really good, i liked it a lot, and its really true. I heard about a girl who got shot by her brother in front of her parents, bcoz he heard that she has a cell phone and she uses it to call guys when she goes to University. so sad.
    Can’t wait to watch what’s next…

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  • MO

    very nice

  • MO

    very nice

  • Ash

    i totally agree with u, honor crimes r spread in jordan n protected by the tribal code,,, but as i study journalism, i have to tell u that newspapers usually DONT encourage such act, actually it depends basically on the newspapers’s policy, it different on “al rai” than “al ghad” , and finally as man, i dont bellieve it’s something manly to show ur muscles to the world on a girl, i get crazy and angry all the time on my family, but i neve have the gutts to lay a hand on them , so in worst case scenario, there r logical ways to deal with such a thing even while top anger moments, and it all starts by one thing,,, mention god till u calm down to think logically, next thing is make sure of this information n not rush to conclusions like a fool !

    i’d only rush to conclusions in one case , when i hate someone n wishes to stick an accusation to them, which brings us back to the first point … “it’s not manly to show ur muscles on a girl,,, specially if she was ur blood”

  • Ash

    i totally agree with u, honor crimes r spread in jordan n protected by the tribal code,,, but as i study journalism, i have to tell u that newspapers usually DONT encourage such act, actually it depends basically on the newspapers’s policy, it different on “al rai” than “al ghad” , and finally as man, i dont bellieve it’s something manly to show ur muscles to the world on a girl, i get crazy and angry all the time on my family, but i neve have the gutts to lay a hand on them , so in worst case scenario, there r logical ways to deal with such a thing even while top anger moments, and it all starts by one thing,,, mention god till u calm down to think logically, next thing is make sure of this information n not rush to conclusions like a fool !

    i’d only rush to conclusions in one case , when i hate someone n wishes to stick an accusation to them, which brings us back to the first point … “it’s not manly to show ur muscles on a girl,,, specially if she was ur blood”

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  • Elena

    Nice work and very true, but we have to stress on the fact that our law encourages this through the facilities that it gives to these killers. I did this research on the human rights and democracy in Jordan a few weeks ago, and it is very disappointing to read of all the issues present in the international studies (UN, EC, …) from limiting the freedom of expression to creating new laws against democracy, to limiting the NGOs any access to vulnerable groups (women and children, …) and what is really sad, is that many honour crimes are actually not related to honour but to the heritage, especially when it is the brother who does the crime. He kills his sister, adds as you said the magic word “Honour”, goes to prison for a few months and gets out with the heritage to himself.

  • Elena

    Nice work and very true, but we have to stress on the fact that our law encourages this through the facilities that it gives to these killers. I did this research on the human rights and democracy in Jordan a few weeks ago, and it is very disappointing to read of all the issues present in the international studies (UN, EC, …) from limiting the freedom of expression to creating new laws against democracy, to limiting the NGOs any access to vulnerable groups (women and children, …) and what is really sad, is that many honour crimes are actually not related to honour but to the heritage, especially when it is the brother who does the crime. He kills his sister, adds as you said the magic word “Honour”, goes to prison for a few months and gets out with the heritage to himself.

  • Ola

    Elena, Thanks for pointing out that fact. It’s very true and it poses the question: Given that, Why does the government refuse to change the law of honor crimes?

    I think it goes down to the value of human life and eliminating all forms of sexism… and I’m saying that because I tried to discuss the governments argument and it was a load of crap. Really, I find it hard to believe that they think that the honor crimes law will help keep the society clean of sin. Pathetic…

  • Ola

    Elena, Thanks for pointing out that fact. It’s very true and it poses the question: Given that, Why does the government refuse to change the law of honor crimes?

    I think it goes down to the value of human life and eliminating all forms of sexism… and I’m saying that because I tried to discuss the governments argument and it was a load of crap. Really, I find it hard to believe that they think that the honor crimes law will help keep the society clean of sin. Pathetic…

  • Natasha

    really interesting, very important topic…

  • Natasha

    really interesting, very important topic…