Blaming the victim – and her children

‘No one knows why my sister was killed. Maybe she heard something or saw something she wasn’t supposed to see, and somebody wanted to shut her up.’ Fatimah Sha’aban is sitting in the unfinished living room of her house in Dahamesh, an enclave at the edge of Lod where she says “all my neighbors have guns.
They shoot them off all night – at weddings, for target practice, to try out before they buy them.”
Sha’aban, 53, wearing a white head scarf and long black robe, is a sister of Fatimah Abu Khatifan, 33, who was shot to death in her home last month by a masked man in another of Lod’s most violent neighborhoods, Pardess Snir. Her husband and a couple of other male relatives were arrested and soon released, but Sha’aban says everyone knows they’re innocent. “The husband was crying, poor guy, he loved my sister,” she says.
Honor killings, as a rule, are carried out by the victim’s blood relatives – members of her extended family, or hamula.
The victim’s whole family was enraged when police, less than an hour after the body was discovered, declared it an honor killing.
“It brings disgrace on the family. The woman’s daughters can never hope to be married – they’re marked as the daughters of an adulteress. Even the sons will find it hard to find wives,” says Sha’aban, noting that her sister had two sons and two daughters.
“My sister was a good woman who cleaned houses every day so she could feed her children. That’s all she cared about,” says Sha’aban. “Her children have nothing to be ashamed of about their mother.”
By arbitrarily calling Abu Khatifan’s death an honor killing, police stigmatized her children for life. Meanwhile, the killer, whoever and wherever he is, doesn’t have to answer to anyone.