President Donald Trump's new executive order on immigration directs the Department of Homeland Security to compile and publicize “information regarding the number and types of acts of gender-based violence against women, including so-called 'honor killings,' in the United States by foreign nationals.”
The inclusion of this politically loaded term in the new travel ban seems to specifically refer to Muslim immigrants, portraying them as monsters who murder their kin if they bring dishonor on their family.
It is a damaging stereotype and its reference in the revised Muslim ban has raised concerns among civil and human right groups.
“It is a thinly veiled reference to stereotypes about Islam and Muslims,” Daniel Mach, director ACLU Program on Freedom of Religion and Belief, told the Religious News Service. “This reference to honor killings is part of a broader effort to smear an entire faith by the extreme acts of a few, and its inclusion in this order bolsters the argument that this is simply another attempt at a Muslim ban.”
Along with portraying Islam in violent light, Trump’s desire to track “honor killings” seems like an attempt to distract Americans from similar issues at home.
Every year, more than 4,774,000 women in the U.S. experience physical violence at the hand of their current of former partner and more than 1,500 women are killed by the men they knew. In fact, cases of domestic violence make up about 15 percent of all violent crime in the country.
Immigrants are not behind all of these crimes, so why are they the only ones being targeted?
Comparatively, the number of honor killings in the U.S. is around 23 to 27 each year, according to a rough estimate by a Department of Justice-sponsored study in 2014.
It is a good idea to track gender-base violence in a society where it is so prevalent, but Trump’s desire to publicize the ritualistic killings has nothing to do with protecting victims of abuse. Because while the president, who has himself been accused of sexual abuse, is professing his concerns for “honor killings,” his administration is reportedly preparing to gut the funding for Department of Justice’s Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) grants.
It is a dangerous move, since the federal budget cut will likely force some shelters to shut down, thus putting victims of domestic violence in even more danger.
The list of honor killings might not help curb the problem of domestic abuse, but it would definitely promote Trump administration’s agenda by linking gender-based violence to immigrants, further demonizing them.
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Banner and thumbnail credit: Reuters, Joshua Roberts