it was this month’s february 2015 issue of cosmopolitan, which is being sold in a plastic bag, that taught me something i was not seeing elsewhere. regularly plastered on the front is a sexified celebrity with loud colors and text about all the sex columns within, but for one month, cosmopolitan took its turn with bringing news to the forefront, in a very emotional and arresting way. i praise cosmopolitan magazine and the karma nirvana fund for this.

i stared…and then i read. i read for hours about what this cover meant. (see links below)

the cover depicts shafilea ahmed, a british girl who lost her life by the hands of her parents, and their religion. she was suffocated to death by her mother and father while her siblings watched. this is what is known as an honor killing.

an honor killing is the murder of a member of a family member by other members of the family in their belief that the family member has brought dishonor upon the family name and/or religion. common reasons for dishonor are refusing an arranged marriage, being in a relationship that goes against family desires, sexual activity outside of marriage, seeking a divorce, being a victim of rape, homosexuality, or as minor as dressing inappropriately. some family members are even forced to commit suicide in front of their family members.

honor killings/ honor murders are an epidemic around the world. “according to the united nations, some 5,000 women are murdered by family members in honor killings every year.” – cnn

within certain religions, honor killings are seemingly ‘ok’ by unwritten law. “although islam and muslim codes of law are often used to justify the use of stoning as a punishment for adultery, there is actually no reference to stoning in the koran.” – policy.mic  furthermore,  “there is nothing in the quran that justifies honor killings. there is nothing that says you should kill for the honor of the family,” said taj hargey, director of the muslim educational centre of oxford in england.” – cnn

“but one vocal british campaigner against honor violence points out that not all the crimes are perpetrated by muslims…. “significant cases are happening within south asian communities, be it pakistani, indian, sikh, muslim, kurdish, iranian, middle eastern communities,”” – irshad manji, the author of “allah, liberty and love: courage to reconcile faith and freedom,”

nazir afzal of britain’s crown prosecution service voiced his poignant view that “at the end of the day, murder is murder. there is no faith on earth, no community on earth that justifies this,”- cnn

my heart goes out to the women and girls of these communities, families, and sometimes religions that face this horrible, unjust punishment. i am not writing about my opinion here. i am simply trying to spread the word that this is happening. this piece is neither an anti-religious piece, nor is it to bring negativity towards certain religions. i have traveled the world and i am proud to say that i respect and am tolerant of other cultures and their religions beliefs, however, i will never be tolerant of any action that harms humanity. above all, we have to have respect for life. writting this, i feel very blessed to come from a community where i am not punished for how i express myself as a woman, and i wish this and more for my peers around the world. in time, i believe that time will teach and time will heal. by kgb