Vendetta Song

Watch this video, 46.56 min, published on Al Jazeera, by Filmmaker Eylem Kaftan, June 13, 2012.

A young Turkish woman, now resident in Canada, travels to Turkey in an attempt to unravel the story behind her aunt Guzide’s murder, some 30 years earlier in a remote Kurdish village. As she searches for clues and closure, she encounters antiquated customs in a Kurdish culture she has never known. She knows that her aunt was a victim of a senseless vendetta killing and as she ventures from village to village she pieces together the woman’s final days and closes in on the identity of her killer. 

Filmmaker’s view: … //

… My aunt, Guzide Karaozan, was both the beneficiary and victim of Kurdish values. When she was born, her mother, my grandmother, had to give Guzide to the neighbouring village of Millan in southeastern Turkey. The women of Millan breastfed and raised her as one of their own. Once Guzide reached puberty, she was given away once more to a neighbouring village as a ceasefire offer. After Guzide’s husband was killed in a vendetta, both of her brothers-in-law wanted to marry her. When she refused and tried to escape, she was killed. Though Guzide’s murderer was never found, villagers believe Guzide’s husband’s family was responsible for her murder. After 30 years, Guzide Karaozan is still regarded as a legend by the villagers of Millan. The men of Millan have vowed to avenge her death.

Set against the backdrop of the Kurdish people’s struggle for identity, where boys grow up playing war games and girls learn to be mothers by looking after younger village children, Vendetta Song is a search for my aunt’s identity, her life, and her murderer. The film also reunites me with my roots, my native country and the people who cared for and loved my aunt.

Part murder-mystery, part family reunion, this personal road trip through southeastern Turkey opens a window to the land and its people, shedding light on the tragedy of Guzide Karaozan, who like hundreds of other women from this place, was cast away from her family, then murdered for the sake of honour.

In the name of honour, hundreds of women are killed in Middle Eastern countries every year. A man’s honour is defined by the chastity of ‘his’ women. The excuse for honour killings range from ‘immoral behaviour’, such as flirting with men, to acts like marital infidelity, refusing to submit to an arranged marriage, demanding a divorce, or ‘allowing themselves’ to be raped.

Families must maintain their ‘honour’ within traditional Kurdish communities. If a woman has brought ‘disgrace’ to her family, there is often intense pressure from the neighbours to execute her. Families sometimes execute the women in public to display that they have ‘restored their honour’. Thus, the courts’ leniency usually encourages families to execute their daughters, wives and sisters. (full text).

Links:

Eylem Kaftan on IMDb;

Vendetta Song on IMDb;

Search results for Vendetta Song on YouTube (longs).

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