This story will break your heart. While Honor Killings are nothing new in the news, the cold and composed manner in which this father talks about killing his daughter, who he describes as a mistake he should have destroyed at birth, I couldn’t shake.
Her crime? “Falling”for a British soldier. Rand Abdel-Quader was thrown to the ground, stomped and then stabbed by her father, brothers and uncles for speaking with the British soldier. Her shrouded body was then tossed into a shallow unmarked grave, much like an animal, and then spat on. Her mother, who divorced her husband immediately after the killing, left him, and had her arm broken during her escape. She is now in hiding, dodging death threats from her own sons, and working for an organization which fights for woman’s rights in Iraq.
Something about this story brings Antigone to mind. Probably the bloodiest of Greek Tragedies, Antigone, daughter of Oedipus, is in my opinion a brilliant attempt at expressing grief in situations where society does not deem it appropriate. For those of you not familiar with Antigone, to boil it down in a chick-pea sized nutshell, Antigone’s brother Polynices is killed during war. However, Polynices fought for the bad guys, (traitor to Thebes) and is therefore not to be buried, but to be left where he fell and picked apart by scavenger birds. Well, Antigone isn’t having it, and gives her fallen brother a proper burial, and is imprisoned in a cave and hung for her doings. She dies, a virgin (suspended in a sealed cave, or a big vagina if you’re into signifiers and decoding myth…… a womb within a womb within a womb) her fiance Haimon, the King Creon’s son, stabs himself and dies at her feet, and the son’s Momma Eurydice stabs herself in the tummy and rips our her own entrails….. Everyone dies! It’s fun for the whole family!!
So, Antigone…. Anti- against, opposed to, gone- seed or semen….. or a more modern usage gyne- gynocology, having to do with all things lady.. A modern translation – in place of mother…Ah those Greeks! So crafty with the etymology. What’s a girl to do? What society and your king say, or what her nature is screaming? And so bravely, she disobeys and willingly confesses her crime when caught.
Anywhoo, what’s my point? As American’s there are very, very few instances when we as a society might feel shamed by our desire to mourn, this is in large part due to our need to see people as individuals first, and criminals second. Don’t believe me? How many 20/20 specials have you watched tearful parents lament the loss of their children turned mass-murderers, serial-killers, cult-leaders, pedophiles? Plenty. This is not true for our Iraqi brothers and sisters. They are dismissed as evil and written out of the family, and even more figuratively, snuffed out of history. This woman,and her sisters, like Antigone left hanging in a cave, are trapped in their own sex.