Sixteen-year old Medine Mehmi lived in the village of Kahta near Adiyaman with her parents and grandfather, Fethi Memi, a violent widower who regularly beat the family members. In January, after her parents were beaten, Medine reported it to the police. When her grandfather learned of this, he threatened her. After another beating in August, Medine again reported it to the police. Then she disappeared…. So began my post of December 6 (click here)
I continued: This is a case of family revenge, not an “honor” killing, since, according to people close to the family, Medine was under great pressure from her grandfather and wasn’t allowed to leave the house, so there would have been no possibility of her even speaking to a man. Yet the brave girl managed to report the abuse to the police twice. What did the police do? The news article is mute on this issue until the police dug up her body and arrested the father and grandfather.
Today there is an update in the Turkish press (for English, click here) that gives the results of the autopsy. Medine Mehmi’s hands were tied and she was placed in a sitting position in a hole in the ground, completely awake and aware, and buried alive. Large amounts of soil were found in her stomach and lungs.
But what also interests me is the addition of an accusation against Medine that had not appeared in earlier accounts: now the article says she was killed because she “befriended boys” (in the Turkish article, she is accused of “cok geziyor” — she gets around outside the house)
A 16-year-old girl was buried alive by relatives in southeastern Turkey in a gruesome honor killing carried out because she reportedly befriended boys, the Anatolia news agency reported Thursday.
Where did that come from? Did this line of reasoning appear in order to make it a (regrettably) familiar form of “honor killing”, rather than a case of silencing the girl because she reported family abuse to the police? Did her father and grandfather, after their arrest, use this to justify the murder? Sure enough, that’s the source of this “information”:
The father is reported to have said in his testimony that the family was unhappy that M.M. had male friends.
Supposedly a family council decided Medine should die for this infraction. Is the court going to take the murderer’s word for what happened? Someone had reported initially that the girl never left the house. According to the recent report, Medine had never attended school and no photo exists of her. Where was she meeting these “boys”?
Obviously, it’s impossible to get the true “story” from reading the newspapers, in English or Turkish, but reporters should have some interest in getting their story straight. Honor killings are a familiar story — but this might well be a case of outright murder for revenge and to hide family violence. That would demonstrate the low status of women outside of the “honor” paradigm (and the authorities’ disinclination to take their claims seriously). In the most recent Turkish article, the father and grandfather are reported as claiming that when Medine reported the beatings to the police, the father and grandfather told the police that she was beaten because she was “talking to boys”. The police now say they began a “procedure” (islem) at the time. Yet Medine disappeared for 40 days before anyone investigated.
What is her mother’s account of what happened? So far, we’re just hearing the self-serving account of Medine’s killers, apparently taken at face value by reporters (and the court?). It’s interesting that a claim of “We did it because she was befriending boys” probably seems like extenuating circumstances.
One additional account is from Medine’s “relatives”: It was an accident. During an argument with her father and grandfather, Medine hit her head on a wall and died. Panicked, her relatives buried her under the chicken coop.
UPDATE: The BBC has picked up the story here.
UPDATE2: For a website about honor killings worldwide, click here.