Honour by Elif Shafak: Horror of honor killing

By Ghadeer Ghloum

In Elif Shafak’s novel “Honour”, the concept of honor killing plays a significant role. The story revolves around a Turkish-Kurdish family that is living in Istanbul and their struggle with family honor and the consequences it has on their destiny. The novel explores the harsh reality of honor killings, where women are often murdered by their own family members, typically male relatives, for sullying the family’s reputation, since the honor of the family rests on the shoulders of the women, specifically on their virginity.

Novelist Elif Shafak

These violations can range from engaging in relationships outside of the family’s approval or marrying outside of the prescribed cultural or religious norms. In this novel, Shafak delves into the motives behind honor killings and their social and cultural dynamics within society. The protagonist is a wife and mother who becomes the victim of an honor killing by her own son after she leaves her abusive husband and starts a new life in London, where she starts an affair with a man she meets.

Her actions are seen as a shame to the family’s name, which can only be cleansed through murdering her under the name of honor for being the bringer of shame. The novel explores the tragic impact of her murder on her family members. Through the hardships faced by the characters, the novel navigates the clash between tradition and personal desires as Shafak raises important questions about tradition and the concept of honor, striving to challenge and dismantle this harmful practice.

The novel serves as a powerful reflection on the importance of humanity, respecting personal freedom and the destructive consequences of rigid societal expectations and pressure. Each character portrays a realistic and relatable struggle that allows the reader to empathize with their struggles and understand their perspectives, whether it is Pembe, the victim of honor killing, who was torn between choosing to adhere to societal expectations and pursuing her own happiness, or Iskender, Pembe’s son, who is struggling with society’s expectations and its obsession over women’s virginity and the concept of family shame and honor.

This leaves the reader to question the validity and limitations of honor in their own lives. Ultimately, Shafak’s “Honour” is a thought-provoking novel that explores the significance of family reputation, women’s oppression and freedom in society.

The post Honour by Elif Shafak: Horror of honor killing appeared first on Kuwait Times.

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