There's no honor in honor killings

While working as an ER doctor, I met an Islamic family in which the father had murdered his teenage daughter after she became pregnant. A few years after this happened, they brought another daughter to the ER, complaining of abdominal pain. “Oh no!” I thought, “is she pregnant?” Medically, it was a plausible explanation for all of her symptoms and signs, and I had to find out.

The nurse took me aside. Whispering into my ear, she told me of the first murder, and said that I shouldn't let any men in the family know that I was ordering a pregnancy test. Given their tendency to go wherever they darn well pleased, it was impossible to keep them away from the desk where I was writing my orders. Consequently, I employed a high-tech security measure: I shielded the paper with my hand. Annoyingly nosy, one fellow kept asking me, with an evil smile, “What are you writing, Doctor?” I gave him a verbose explanation filled with sesquipedalian medical words and phrases I made up, wanting to tell him something so he didn't think I was hiding anything, but determined to tell him nothing. Surprisingly, when I said how the hyperacute pseudoionization potential inversion flux gradient was affecting the idiopathic membrane variance co-factor, he nodded as if he knew exactly what I was talking about.

When the lab tests came back, I took a deep breath and checked them. Yes, she was pregnant. I wondered what to do next.

The patient's Mom approached me. Grabbing my hand as if for both moral and physical support, she looked deeply frightened. “Tell me, Doctor, is she pregnant?

The nurse reassured me that it was safe to tell her the result. When she heard my “yes,” she fell to her knees. Still holding my hand, she looked up at my face and began sobbing, begging me not to tell any of the men in her family. They'd kill the daughter, she said, and from their track record I didn't think this was a groundless concern. When I said that I would not tell the men, she—still on her knees—began kissing my hand, and thanked me repeatedly. The Mom promised to “have this taken care of.” She never specified what she meant by that, but I assumed she meant abortion.

The views expressed on this page may or may not reflect my current opinions, nor do they necessarily represent my past ones. After reading a slice of what I wrote in my various websites and books, you may conclude that I am a liberal Democrat or a conservative Republican. Wrong; there is a better alternative. Just as the primary benefit from debate classes results when students present and defend opinions contrary to their own, I use a similar strategy as a creative writing tool to expand my brainpower—and yours. Mystified? Stay tuned for an explanation. PS: The wheels in your head are already turning a bit faster, aren't they?

“The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.”
F. Scott Fitzgerald

Reference: Imagining dialogue can boost critical thinking: Excerpt: “Examining an issue as a debate or dialogue between two sides helps people apply deeper, more sophisticated reasoning …”

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