Spectacles of Honor: Barbarism within Civilized Reactions to Public Killings

By Sandra Phelps.

Published by The Humanities Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

On April 7th 2007 seventeen year old Du’a Khalil Aswad was brutally murdered before a pack of shouting men and police officers in the public streets of her village in Northern Iraq. Du’a was beaten, kicked and stoned to death. What makes Du’aas murder extraordinary is that the crime was captured on mobile phone video by onlookers in the crowd and expediently sent to Utube and CNN for international viewing. Over a year later one can still log on and watch Du’a as she dies. Du’aas murder and dying breath are a public spectacle open to global gaze. The world watches, reacts and evaluates this painful spectacle of femininity, brutality, life and death. This paper examines the ways that the world reacts, the way that people – Kurds, Iraqis and others – analyze, decipher, construct and evaluate this event.

The killing of Dua has become the conduit for national guilt, increased religious divisions and a plethora of dichotomized stereotypes; East/West, male/female, Islam/Christian, Islam/Ezidi, innocence/guilt – and perhaps most paradoxical given the current occupation of Iraq by western forces – civilized/barbaric. It is the barbarism inherent within stoning a young woman to death that is at the forefront of international criticism of this gendered brutality.

Keywords: Honor Killing, Civilization, Barbarism, Kurdistan, Iraq, Women, Ethnic Division, Religious Divisions

International Journal of the Humanities, Volume 6, Issue 5, pp.141-146. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 534.041KB).

Dr. Sandra Phelps

Senior Lecturer, Department of Sociology, University of Kurdistan Hawler, Arbil, Northern Iraq, Iraq

Sandra Phelps is researching gender and ethnic intolerance within social groups. Sandra teaches Sociological, postcolonial and feminist theories.


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