Monday, November 12, 2007

"Reclaiming Honor in Jordan"

On a post I did about a sex slave ring in Kazakhstan, I found the following comment:

For All Women Foundation said...
I have worked in some of the former Soviet republics, including Kazakhstan, and I truly hope they don't adopt radical Islam.

I have also worked in Jordan, on a number of occasions, on the "honor" killings situation. This is not the direction the former republics should go.

Ellen R. Sheeley, Author
"Reclaiming Honor in Jordan"

November 10, 2007 10:50 AM

In response to a request of mine for her to leave a link to a website or something, Ellen later came back and commented the following:

For All Women Foundation said...
Yankee Doodle, thank you. I am low tech, self funding all the work I've been doing on "honor" killings. So no Web site for now, just the book.

I am a marketer by education and training so, when I was working in the former Soviet republics, it was in the 1990s, not long after the collapse, and the NIS were trying to jump start market economies. It was a strange but fascinating time to be there working on that, for I was working among some very well trained, uber intelligent people, but they just couldn't quite grasp how marketing occurs on some of the most basic, basic levels. I kept thinking, egads, my seven-year-old neighbor kid understands marketing better than these people, but it was only because she'd been immersed in the culture of it from birth, whereas the others simply had no frame of reference.

My interpreter in Kazakhstan was a Muslim woman in her early 20s. We spent so much time together, and she told me to think of the Kazakhs as "Muslim lights," for they had no ability to practice their faith under Soviet rule, so they drank alcohol, didn't cover, etc. One day she took me to a beautiful Russian Orthodox church in a park in Almaty. We happened to arrive mid service, and she had no problem staying with me through the remainder of it. Maybe something similar could happen in Jordan, but I think it's unlikely.

Same in Azerbaijan. The people there are, as you stated, Turkic. What I saw and experienced there was, as my Kazakh friend would say, "Muslim light."

I would just hate to see these countries become radicalized. They are sitting on vast energy reserves. Could be a very, very dangerous combination.

November 11, 2007 12:38 PM

Intrigued, I looked at the reviews at and found three reviews of her book:

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A profound and thought-provoking work, October 18, 2007
By A. M. McReynolds (San Francisco, CA)

This was a hard book for me to read, but it's something that everyone, especially women, should know about. Ellen Sheeley, at her own expense and very real personal risk, has undertaken to systematically expose both these crimes and the apathy that seems to pervade Jordanians when it comes to acknowledging and punishing these honor killings. A 'must-read' for anyone who cares about human rights.

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
An Important Piece of Work..., July 13, 2007
By Zeina A (Jordan)

So begins the arduous task of reviewing this unique item. Arduous because, as a Jordanian, it burdens my heart that this book even needs to exist (it does). Arduous because it shook me that the subject was studied at this level of detail by a non-Jordanian. But...perhaps an integral factor in the equation of bringing this book into existence is that the writer has to be an outsider. Jordanian journalists from within have been trying to know themselves and know their society by exposing it's shadow...but anybody, is welcome to tackle the shadow.

Ellen R. Sheeley, being an American who -devotedly- dove right in to a foreign society to try to dig up info about this taboo issue may be an outsider, but that's what may have helped her keep cool enough of a head to compile the data needed to publish such a work.

I applaud her for being able to withstand the hardships of the process of publishing and marketing this type of book. I know some of what she has had to endure, and I only hope that her endeavours will be recognized by people who will thence take action upon eradicating these dis-honorable crimes.

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Honor Killings: A Sad But Timely Study, July 6, 2007
By Robert L. Willett

I probably learned more about a subject that is so foreign to our American culture, it is thought to be propaganda. But it is not, and the passion shown by Ellen Sheeley in spending her time and funds to bring the facts about this horrific crime out into the open will hopefully bear fruit.

The research summarized in her book demonstrates the acceptance of the custom and brings out how the laws of Jordan are incapable of dealing with the crime. She also points out that as Islamic believers emigrate to the Western world, honor killings go with them.

I hope that further study, by Ellen and others, will focus on the need to abolish the practice and put its shameful history behind the Jordanian people.

No matter what the future provides, Ellen has taken a significant step in exposing the killings for what they are; murder.

At this point, I am fishing, trying to lure Ellen into sending me more information about her experiences and about her book -- this sounds like a story that would be both interesting and pertinent!


WomanHonorThyself said...

Dont even get me started on the misogynism in the Muzzzlim and Araab world my friend!..arggggggggg...!..Blessed Veterans Day! :)

anticant said...

Does it really matter whether "honour killings" are fuelled by religion or culture? What has to be dissected here is Arabic and other Asian notions of 'honour'. Some aspects of these are clearly unacceptable to Western human rights values. Whatever valid criticisms there may be of the British Raj, it did at least have the bottle to suppress Suttee [Hindu widow-burning], and to largely keep the peace between Hindus and Muslims which only erupted into massive communal violence with independence and partition.