Honor Killings in the US

The media is awash with news of “honor killings” happening in faraway places. A wife disgraces the name of her husband and she is beat to death with a club, and then tossed into a well on the outskirts of the village. These things happen in backward countries that end in “-istan.” They don’t happen in the United States. Except they do.

The story above didn’t happen in Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Afghanistan, or some other country most Americans can’t find on a map. It happened in Georgia. The wife, Tonya Lynn, was beaten to death by her husband with a baseball bat after she allegedly confessed to having two affairs. He then tossed her body into a well and sent a text message from her phone to her niece to make it appear as if she had left town. According to the court documents, because she was allegedly “taunting him with news that she was having sex with two other men,” this isn’t murder in Georgia.

The Supreme Court of the Great State of Georgia overturned the husband’s conviction on the grounds that the trial judge had not allowed additional testimony about the alleged affairs, even though the husband had made the allegations during his testimony before the jury.

The message sent is pretty clear. If Tonya somehow violated her husband’s property rights over her vagina, then it’s ok to kill her. At the very least, it shouldn’t really be called murder. It’s really just manslaughter, and should carry a lesser sentence.

Tonya had four children. The prosecutor may attempt to retry the case.

Image credit: Muminah billah

Image credit: Muminah billah

This was an honor killing. We just don’t call it that in the United States because we are far too civilized a country to admit that this is an issue. US statistics say otherwise. 1 out of every 3 women whose death was ruled a homicide has been killed by a current or former partner.

The fact that Tonya’s husband killed her is not in dispute. He did not walk in and catch his wife cheating and fly into a fit of rage. He killed her because she had dishonored him by allegedly bedding down with someone else.

When an American citizen was sentenced to death in Sudan for the crime of adultery, citizens in the United States reacted with horror and launched an international campaign to free the woman. Yet there is surprisingly little support for ending honor killings at home. There are no calls for tougher punishments for those that violate restraining orders. There is no real push to close the loophole that allows husbands to kill their wives and receive a slap on the wrist if they can catch them in the act.

While the citizens of the United States may not stand around a woman having rocks thrown at her head, and are quick to condemn the primitives that engage in such barbarism, they certainly don’t seem to mind the plague of domestic violence in the United States. While there may not be cheering over the honor killings in the United States, the silent consent is deafening.