The film, Honor Diaries, shines light on human rights abuses committed against women in shame-honor cultures.
The concept of honor and the power of shame in such cultures is hard for Westerners to grasp. Because in them, the shame a woman’s “misbehavior” brings on the family is devastating, women’s movements and activities are tightly controlled.
Having lived in Afghanistan and worked with Afghan refugees in Europe and the U.S., I have seen firsthand the suffering caused in women’s lives in the name of preserving the family’s honor.
I also saw the devastating blowback when women crossed a line—intentionally or unintentionally.
In Afghanistan, a misdeed—not wearing the burqa if a father or husband required it, arriving home past dusk, texting a boy, wearing makeup in public, or laughing too loud—were enough to cause serious fallout for women.
Even more dangerous offenses would include going to school or work without permission, touching an unrelated man, refusing to marry the man chosen for her, converting to another religion, or running away, even from an abusive husband. Strangely, even being raped is considered to be the “moral crime” of fornication.
It’s hard to underestimate the power of shame to limit a woman’s choices in honor cultures. If she crosses a boundary, a girl or woman may be beaten, locked in her house, or permanently disfigured by having acid thrown in her face or her nose and/or ears cut off.
If the offense is so shameful that the family’s honor cannot be recovered otherwise, the men closest to the woman (a father, brother, or uncle) will feel compelled to carry out a so-called honor killing. In this case, the woman would simply disappear, usually with no repercussions for the murderer.
In some honor cultures, female genital mutilation (FGM) is used in an attempt to limit a woman’s sexual desire and control her behavior to keep her “pure” for her future husband. In FGM, the clitoris is sliced out and a girl’s (or even a baby’s) vagina partially sewn closed. This procedure is excruciatingly painful, can cause a girl-child to bleed to death, but also causes extreme difficulty and even death for the mother in childbirth.
Not all families within shame-honor cultures engage in these practices, but these human rights abuses against women are so prevalent that they should be brought into the light, and the governments that turn a blind eye to them called to account, both to criminalize these abuses and to bring swift justice to those perpetrating them.
Watch the ten-minute trailer free here: https://youtu.be/w-zWq_Xzw_g
The one-hour film, Honor Diaries by Micah Smith, is available to rent on iTunes for $4.99 or buy for $7.00 (SD): https://itun.es/us/3_loW
I encourage every woman to watch this film prayerfully, asking God what we might do on behalf of women in danger of these atrocities.