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.