Azerbaijani social media users are debating whether the press should even give a voice to supporters of honor killings
“A bad woman deserves to have her head cut off”, Azerbaijani pop star Nadir Qafarzade said in a recent interview.
On August 20, in the Turkish city of Kirikkale, a man cut the throat of his ex-wife in front of their ten-year-old daughter.
The public outcry in Turkey reverberated across the Turkic-speaking world, including Azerbaijan, where honour killings and domestic violence are not uncommon.
In the days that followed, local media asked celebrities for their opinions on the events in Turkey.
Nadir Qafarzade was interviewed about the subject. He said:
“A bad woman deserves to be beheaded. How can a husband endure the shame of his wife’s infidelity”, said Nadir Qafarzade in an interview with Baku.ws.
He also said that women should not be given complete freedom, but “freedom within a framework.”
Reaction on social media
Azerbaijanis immediately took to social media to respond to Qafarzade’s statement.
Some defended Qafarzade and others scolded him. Others were disturbed by the mere fact that the discussion of honour killings persists in Azerbaijan.
Critics of Qafarzade pointed the finger at another target: the local press, which they accused of perpetuating domestic violence in Azerbaijan.
Prominent Azerbaijani writer living in political exile Gunel Mövlud wrote that it is necessary to condemn not only Nadir Gafarzadeh for his call to murder, but all local media sites providing him with a platform.
Coverage of honour killings
The Azerbaijani media not only regularly covers “honour crimes,” but gives voice to figures like Qafarzade who support this primitive idea of justice.
Each time coverage of honour crimes is followed by an onslaught of misogynistic comments on Azerbaijani social media, which often blame the victim for her “depravity.”
The social media response to honour crimes in Azerbaijan suggests the media plays an important role in normalizing honour crimes. Now Azerbaijani human rights and feminist organizations are concerned not only with fighting such sentiments in Azeri society, but the media’s problematic coverage of honor crimes.