The whitewashing of Muslim honor killings in America has seeped into academia. And the PC police have found a new scapegoat: Hindu Americans.
In January, the Journal of Family Violence published "An Exploratory Study of Honor Crimes in the United States" by Brittany E. Hayes, Joshua D. Freilich and Steven M. Chermak. It was an act of cowardice as well as a shoddy piece of research. It broke absolutely no new ground, either theoretically or statistically, and is so "politically correct" that it completely misses an entire forest for a tree.
The study's first error consists of comparing violence against women in general with femicide. Being battered is not the same as being murdered. A classic honor killing is a family conspiracy mainly against a young daughter; fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles and cousins — sometimes even grandfathers — may join in. Westerners don't often kill their teenage daughters.
The reason Hayes et al. place honor killings within the broader context of "violence against women" is clear. They don't want to be accused of "Islamophobia" or of targeting any ethnic or religious group.
Hayes, Freilich and Chermak bend over backward not to single out Muslims.
They don't tell us the names of any of the 16 honor-killing perpetrators or the names of their victims. The phrase "Muslim perpetrator" and "Muslim honor killing" appear nowhere. In 10,000 words, only 14 are related to "Islam," "Muslims," "Arabs" or "Middle Easterners."
Three times, Hayes et al. rail against "Western media coverage." They write: "Significantly, media reporters in the United States may be more inclined to cover honor crimes, especially those committed by Middle Easterners, compared to other fatal crimes because they may be perceived as more 'exotic' and news worthy." They insist, "Reporters may search for an honor crime angle when the victim and/or offender are of a particular ethnicity or religion . . . there is a need to study honor crimes in the United States that involve victims and perpetrators from other cultures, like India, or extremist ideologies."
The New York Times, for example, has published a series of articles on Hindu honor killings in India and has published very few articles about Muslim honor killings in the United States, in North America or in Europe.
These authors seem not to be familiar with the 2012 study which compared Hindu honor killings in India with Muslim honor killings in Pakistan and Hindu versus Muslim honor killings worldwide. Hindus absolutely do perpetrate honor killings (and some of them are quite gruesome), but they do so mainly in India; they don't bring the custom with them when they emigrate to the West. (Or those who emigrate are not honor-killing tribalists.) That is why one cannot study them here.
Also, many honor killings in India are perpetrated by Muslims as well as by Hindus.
That study showed that most Hindu honor killings are caste-related and that Muslim honor killings are triggered by many more reasons, e.g., girls have been killed for looking at a boy, allowing their veil to slip, being seen without their veil, refusing to marry their first cousin, insisting on divorcing their first cousin, developing non-Muslim friends, having a non-Muslim boyfriend, being suspected of having an affair, wanting a higher education, etc.
Ironically, this comparison of Hindu and Muslim honor killings actually supports a politically correct view: The origin of honor killings probably resides in shame-and-honor tribalism, not necessarily in a particular religion. I don't understand why other scholars have not yet absorbed this point.
The Koran does not command that a woman be honor-killed. It does, however, demand male and female "modesty" and female "obedience," and it allows husbands to physically chastise wives. Perhaps extreme misogynists have allowed superstitious and illiterate people to believe that committing intimate family femicide is religiously sanctioned.
Neither Islam nor Hinduism, as religious institutions, has worked very hard to abolish honor killing. The Indian Hindu government has tried to do so. The Pakistani government has not.
Nevertheless, Hayes, Freilich and Chermak bend over backward not to single out any one ethnicity, religion or nationality — except, perhaps, India.
Phyllis Chesler, a Shillman-Ginsburg fellow at the Middle East Forum, is an emerita professor of psychology and women's studies and the author of sixteen books.