Anthropologists, sociologists, psychologists and social workers are involved in the study, due to conclude in August. Associate Professor Mazhar Bağlı from Dicle University Department of Sociology is supervising the study.
The team visited 44 prisons in the region and interviewed 180 perpetrators of honor killings. Of these, 100 percent say they do not regret their actions, Professor Bağlı notes. In some cases, the victim’s relatives even praised the perpetrator, he adds.
Causes of honor killings vary. “It is not appropriate to associate honor killings with only one section of society. Some people think that it is related to a feudal structure, but this has proven to be false. There are also perpetrators who are well-educated university graduates. Of all those surveyed, 60 percent are either high school or university gradates or at the very least, literate. The victims of honor killing are not always women; males have also been targeted,” Bağlı says.
He also drew attention to a misperception in the society concerning the motive. “These murders are not motivated by rumors such as ‘she wore blue jeans,’ ‘she sent an SMS to her boyfriend’ or ‘she went to the park.’” Suggesting an illegitimate sexual relationship as the primary reason for the murders, Bağlı said cheating is an unforgivable act in the Southeast, even for a woman who “cheats” after divorcing her husband by remarrying.
“The ultimate punishment in such a situation is death. Both the groom’s and the bride’s families agree on this. Murder becomes inevitable when honor is at stake and turning to murder in such a situation is seen as a respectable act by the society,” he said.
Bağlı also emphasized the importance of raising public awareness and introducing punishments for perpetrators to deter them from carrying out an honor killing. “If we sit and do nothing, we will continue witnessing these tragic events,” he warned.
He also noted the final report to be produced by the study will be forwarded to relevant institutions, organizations and NGOs in one-and-a-half months, when the study is expected to conclude.