Thursday, March 17, 2005
My name is Yagmur (it means "rain"). I was born in rural Turkey, in a village. Generally Turkish women enjoy many freedoms, which our Arab sisters can’t even think of. Rural Turkey is a different story. Honour killings take place every day, women don’t have much say (if any) in household matters and female employment is out of question. However, much hard work is done by women because men don’t want to strain themselves; women are like cattle or slaves. If husband tells you to do something, you have to obey.
My mother was a fairly-educated woman, she taught me at home and I even went to school. My hobby was reading books; through them I learnt different languages and acquired a lot of knowledge.
I was a disciplined and obedient girl, unlike my sister who was somewhat uppity. When she was 18, she fell in love with a young man. They both loved each other but he was meant for another girl, thus his parents had decided. Dating is utterly forbidden in Islam, marriages are arranged and often young people meet on their wedding day.
My sister was rebellious. She “dated” that young man. Every night she would go to see him. They even kissed and actually their relationship went too far. She got pregnant. At first they planned to run away to a big city where they would be safe. They knew in villages, religion rules and they could be in trouble. In fact, authorities don’t care what’s going on in rural Turkey. Sometimes imams, mullahs and elders who try to practice Sharia and break the secular state law are punished but usually authorities are more interested in big cities full of tourists and turn a blind eye to what happens in villages.
I remember their young faces. I didn’t understand the whole situation; I was a little girl. But when I looked at them I could see they were happy. Their happiness made me happy too and I wanted to smile.
Instead of eloping, they decided to speak to my father. Pregnancy is a very good reason to get permission for marriage, or so they thought.
Alas, she had miscalculated my father’s love for her and his obsession with his “honour”. He became furious. Instead of letting the two young lovers marry and build their nest of love, he took her to the religious elders and they ruled that she had committed adultery. She was sentenced to death by stoning. They showed no mercy even for her unborn child. She had stained the “honour” of the family and the only way to remove that stain was to nip her life in the bud. Her unborn baby was a stain too and that little creature had to be destroyed as well, so my family could live honorably.
In the evening before her execution, she came to my room and told me that she would miss me. She was crying and hugged me to her bosom. Then she smiled and said that soon she would see her unborn baby; she didn’t need to wait until the birth day. I was blissfully unaware of her fate, but I felt that something bad was about to happen. I was so scared!
I still remember her eyes; they were blank; she stared at the sky while she was dug into the ground. She was wrapped in white sheets and her hands were tide to her body. She was buried up to her waist. The rabid mob circled her with stones in their hands and started throwing them at her while the roars of Allah-u-Akbar Allah-u-Akbar added to their frenzy. She twitched with pain as the stones hit her tender body and smashed her head. Blood gushed out from her face, cheeks, mouth, nose and eyes. All she could do was to bend to the left and to the right. Gradually the movements slowed down and finally she stopped moving. Her head fell on her chest. Her bloodied face remained serene. All the pain had gone. The hysteric mob relented and the chant of Allah-u’Akbar stopped. Someone approached and with a big boulder in his hand smashed the scull of my sister to finish her off. There was no need for that; she was already dead. Her bright black eyes that beamed with life were shut. Her jovial laughter that filled the house was silenced. Her heart that beat with such a heavenly love for only a short time had stopped. Her unborn baby was not given a chance to breathe one breath of air. He (or she) accompanied his young mother in her solitary and cold tomb, or who know, may be to a better place where love reigns and pain and ignorance are not known. These two budding lives had to be nipped so my father could keep his honour.
She wanted to marry a man whom she loved. She dreamt wearing a white wedding dress, that there would be a big ceremony, lots of people would be invited and they all would congratulate her, chant merry songs and throw flowers and confetti at her. Yes there was a ceremony, but it was not her wedding. She was not united with the man whom she loved but was wed to death. She was dressed in white but that was not her wedding gown. Lots of people came to the party but they came to curse her and to throw stones at her. No music was played and no merry songs were sang; only screams of Allah-u-Akbar filled the air. The only hug she got was from the cold earth in which she was half buried. The only kisses that she received were from the rocks thrown at her that tore her flesh and broke her bones. They were the kisses of death.
This was a tragedy for my sister’s young lover. His life lost its meaning. He got lashes but nothing more. He could well forget about the whole affair and get along with his life, but he didn't. I recall seeing him standing in front of our house every day, as if waiting for my sister to come out and meet him. I could see him crying. I can only imagine that when he was not crying in front of our house he was in the cemetery, crying over the grave of his love and his baby. One day he could no more bear his pains and hanged himself.
His death was hushed and no one talked about it. Maybe no one cared. He was reunited with his love and his baby. No one can hurt them anymore. No one can separate them from one another again.
It is a sad story. But unlike the story of Romeo and Juliet it is a story that is never told. No one talks about those young lovers. No one sheds tears for them. Not only they were buried, their memories were also buried as if they never existed - their tender love was a shame to others - a shame that had to be washed with blood.
But the saddest part is that according to Islam my sister deserved that death. The elders were sure she would be burning in Hell for eternity. No, I can't imagine that God can send someone to Hell for loving and for being happy. I can't accept a cruel God.
When I turned 18, I was married off to a Turkish businessman from Germany. When I came to Germany I found out that he had another wife.
He is not a bad man at all. He is very kind, but he is a Muslim. He doesn’t understand why Europeans don’t like polygamy, for instance. He doesn’t allow us to leave the home. He protects our honour in this strange way.
Then we moved to the UK. Here we are even more isolated than in Germany because there are fewer Turks. In Germany we at least could meet our fellow expats.
As for my relationship with my husband's first wife, we are friends. There is some rivalry between us, that’s for sure. But I am alone and can’t meet anyone or leave home. Her life is just as dull and empty as mine. We can’t hate each other; we should be friends to overcome our troubles. My co-wife and I are like two cellmates. We only have each other. There is not much room for antagonism or hard feelings.
I have 5 children, she has 4. She occupies a more privileged position within our family because she has a son. I have given birth only to daughters so far.
We are both educated, but she is so obsessed with kids that she has given herself up. I am still trying to grasp at non-existent straws; probably one day I will be freed… I read books, keep myself informed and like to think. She is not remotely interested in reading books or thinking. I am alone.
Sometimes I think of running away, but I have 5 daughters. I can neither leave them, nor run away with them. Actually, I am stuck.
Even though I left Islam a long time ago, I cannot stop praying or fasting. My husband keeps a rod for the disobedient…
When I try to protest, my mouth is shut up with quotes from the Quran. Islam defines our lives. Isn’t it stupid that people live according to a book written a long time ago?
I am not whining about my life but I do hate Islam. At least I could object to certain traditions but Islam preserved the worst in our culture, reducing women into slavery and keeping them ignorant. What can you expect from an uneducated woman?
When I look at my daughters, I pray that they may live in a free world, free from Islam and this slavery.
Ali, you promised to defeat Islam very soon, so please do it.
I know sometimes you must feel like giving up. It seems to me you’ve devoted yourself fully to the good cause of yours. You may feel at times that you will never succeed. I just want to say that you are fighting for women like me. When you despair, think of me and millions of women with similar tragic experiences. Never give up. You are my knight in shining armour. I just want you to know that I am your keen supporter.
Please sent this story to your friends and publish it in your site.
Yagmur Dursun is a pen name. Some details of this story have been changed to hide the identity of the author.