Honor Suicides in Turkey
By Jan Goodwin
The family of Kadriye Demirel, a classmate of Derya's who was murdered by her brother (not pictured) for soiling the family's honor, refuses to mourn her death.
Photo Credit: France Keyser
In Turkey, honor suicides are now replacing honor killings for girls who bring "shame" on their families.
Perched on the edge of the sofa so that her feet just reach the floor, Derya, 17, is the picture of innocence: large almond eyes, too-long jeans turned up at the cuff, Alice headband. But Derya is here at this women's shelter in rural Turkey because her family wants her dead. Her crime: talking to a male classmate on her cell phone-the closest thing to dates many teens in strict Islamic societies have before marriage.
Derya met Recep, 16, in high school in 2005. "In those phone chats after school, I fell in love," she says. "That had never happened to me before, because in my culture, love comes after marriage."
In March of 2006, when her uncle (with whom she was living) realized what was going on, he confiscated Derya's cell phone. She bought another. He took that one away, too. She borrowed one from a friend. Her uncle alerted her mother, who warned her to cut off communication with Recep. "But I couldn't stop," Derya says. "Part of me was angry. Everyone uses cell phones. Why not me?"
Two months later, she received a text message. "Don't come home again," it read. "You have shamed our honor. You must kill yourself. If you don't, we will." More threats followed-from brothers, uncles, male cousins-sometimes 10 or 15 a day. "It was terrifying," says Derya. She began to see only one solution to her dilemma.