Mehmet Goren, 49, was found guilty of “honor killing” his 15 year-old daughter Tulay Goren who disappeared from her home in January 1999. He was sentenced to life with a minimum of 22 years in prison.
According to the Metropolitan Police, there were 129 honor-based crimes from April to October in London alone this year, compared to the 132 honor crimes committed in 2008-09. These figures are merely the tip of the iceberg because many honor crimes are never reported. Family and community members remain silent and thus make it exceedingly difficult to identify and protect victims or prosecute offenders. Even if the prosecutor pursues a case, the crown’s primary witness is usually a sibling or the mother. Mothers seldom testify against their sons or husband. . .until now.
Enter Hanim Goren, the true protagonist of this drama. Refusing to hide behind a screen to protect her identity, Hanim told the jury that her marriage to Mehmet had been arranged by her parents and that he had been an abusive husband and father. She told the jury: “For thirty years I have kept a lot of things inside me. Only I know, and God knows.” What Hanim did not choose to keep inside of her were the events that led up to her daughter’s disappearance and presumed murder.
Hanim’s fragile stature disguised her strong desire to get justice for her daughter. In a voice filled with calm rage and raw pain, Hanim described how, on two separate occasions, Mehmet attempted to kill her and their family – first by gas and then by rat poison. The last time she saw her daughter was the night before she disappeared. Hanim Goren said: “In the children’s bedroom I saw Tulay lying on the floor face down. Her hands and her feet were tied. Her hands and her feet were all a purple black color.” At one point during her trial, Hanim peered directly at her husband in the dock and screamed: “Look at my face. Tell me what you did to Tulay!”
Hanim’s oldest daughter Nuray Guler best described her mother’s courage when she said: “In taking this action, she has confronted and accused the men of our family. No one should fail to realize what this means within our culture. These people do not forget.” Hanim’s courage to stand up and speak up for her daughter Tulay is only overshadowed by her pain. She will always remember her beautiful daughter who had her whole life in front of her as well as the pain of knowing her husband abruptly ended that life. I can only hope that other mothers and sisters in similar circumstances will follow her lead and step from behind the curtain of darkness to protect their children or assist with the prosecution of those who kill in the name of honor.
Original print date: December 20, 2009