A 16-year-old Turkish girl found dead in a hole last December was probably buried alive, judging by the amounts of soil in her lungs and stomach, authorities claim, the BBC reports.
Medine Memi may have been the victim of an “honor killing.” An “honor killing” takes place after one family member commits an act that serves to dishonor the rest of the family. Members of the family then kill the one who committed the act, as defense of honor is seen as a justifiable reason for murder. Memi’s father and grandfather have been arrested, but not yet charged.
Memi’s neighbor noticed she’d been missing for a month before calling the police. Officers then visited Memi’s house, and found her body “in a hole, newly covered with concrete, next to the hen-house,” the BBC reports. She was found dead with her hands tied behind her back and minor bruises on her body.
Memi lived in Kahta, Turkey, a heavily conservative and religious south-east town. The BBC reports that while many “honor killings” are carried out by muslims in Turkey, the practice has more to do with the regional customs of this mainly Kurdish town than with religion. Apparently, if a female child is seen even speaking to a boy, there is “strong peer pressure from the community on the male members of the family to restore their honor.”
The United Nations Population Fund estimates the number of worldwide “honor killings” at 5,000 per year. Both men and women are targeted, though women are much more often victims. According to the Turkish prime minister’s office, there were 16 honor killings in Adiyaman, the province where Memi lived, between 2003 and 2007.