This morning, on the 22nd of January 2007, on the forth millennium after hamoraby’s law, Zahra Ezo gasped for her last breath on the intensive care bed in Almojtahed hospital in Damascus, over 4 stabs in her back, and one in her neck, that were put through her body with the blade of spite from her brother’s knife in defense of his “honor” ?!

Zahra Ezo who just finished her sweet sixteen, was kidnapped by one of the family’s friends in Alhasaka. Kidnapped and blackmailed with no fault of her own. But, she’s a woman, a child, a FEMALE. And that was enough for her to be responsible for the whole family’s honor. Moreover, the whole tribe’s honor.

while the kidnapper went to prison, Zahra became a target to wash the shame, a target to kill! she escaped death and reached to the girls' care center in Damascus. “Lucky” her, she reached the center at the same time the national organization for developing women’s role were participating as a partner in the center’s administration. But that didn’t save her!

over the nine months during Zahra’s stay in the center, she escaped two attempts of murder. at the first time her brother came holding the butcher’s cleaver to kill her the minute she appeared through the center door. the second time it was her uncle holding the knife. and both times, the national organization managed to solve the problem.. and started a long trip to convince the family that the girl is not more than a child in the first place, and that she was kidnapped with no fault of her own. that the real criminal was the friend who betrayed every moral value, and not Zahra, the innocent child who continued to successfully finish her education.

after the organization succeeded in turning the center from a dark prison full of corruption and diseases to the beginning of a real caring institute, Zahra rushed, like many girls there, to benefit from the new situation. She started schooling periods with great determination and strength. she started drawing and developing her talent. and also began to write in an interesting literary style.

one day, her aunt and cousin came to visit her, and found out about the whole story. The aunt and her son, the two wonderful people who deserve all the love and honor, knew that Zahra was a victim being held as a criminal where she had no fault. they knew that Zahra was pure and honest, and capable of building a lovely life for herself.

Zahra and her cousin, the man who is a man by all means of the word, fell in love with each other and decided to get married and start a new life for better and for worse.

but the fear of the family’s knife lingered strongly in their hearts. therefore the organization did what they can to provide safety for Zahra and her husband to be, and insisted that Zahra’s father vow to Alhasaka court that he would not harm her in any way, in hopes that this vow would stop the shedding of black blood.

the father as well as the brother who once held the knife to her throat both agreed. and they threw a lovely wedding in the presence of some of the family’s members. the father attended the contraction of marriage and the mother attended the wedding reception over a month ago. and Zahra moved to her new house where she shared the difficulties of daily life with her loving hard working husband.

But the relatives didn’t like what happened! the men who were entitled to do everything and anything they wanted did not like the fact that Zahra was alive! so they started a chain of instigation and public pressure…

after a month from the wedding, Zahra’s brother visited her new home, and spent the weekend over, eating, drinking and sleeping. joking and laughing until he made sure there were no suspicions left.

on the following working morning, on Sunday the 21st of Jan,2007, Zahra’s husband went to work leaving his wife and her brother home alone, thinking that everything had been finally solved. But…

as soon as the brother - the killer- that was loaded with the pressure of a culture that accused him and his family of surrendering to the shame woke up, he took his knife and stabbed Zahra 4 times in her back until it reached her lung, and one time in her throat and escaped away…

when the crime was finally discovered after a while, Zahra had already lost a lot of blood, she was rushed to Almojtahed hospital in Damascus almost dead, and was put in intensive care. the doctors of the hospital put a lot of effort into saving Zahra’s life but the stabs were much stronger than them..

Zahra didn’t even see the end of the day in the hospital….
and she left this cruel world this morning while her family members were celebrating. yes, another celebration of killing a Syrian woman.

Zahra, the victim of masculinity times and times again. the victim of a culture that became a disgrace written over our foreheads..the victim of the law that still allows murderers to flaunt their crimes.. the victim of everyone who justifies this murder and everyone who seals the lips over it’s conviction.

Zahra, the victim of religious institutions that still collude with these murders, and the victim of civil institutions that still considers the feminine causes to be not in the priorities. the victim of governmental institutions that don’t mind sacrificing Syrian women on the chancel of “international reputation” .. and the victim of the “developmental” media silent as devil!!

Zahra, the victim of bureaucracy and closed minds that still hold steel bars in front of the civil community in his attempt to find shelters for violated threatened women..shelters to protect them from murder.. and open the doors to a safe noble life for them…

Zahra.. OUR victim!!
we all killed Zahra!
we all participated in holding the black knife!

the following words were written by Zahra a few months ago.. describing her feelings towards one of the ladies of the national organization for developing women’s role, that supervises the girls’ care center in Damascus where she was staying:

I felt a queen of Arab queens in the color of wheat, the wheat that gives people grace and blessing. and your pure heart in the color of white clouds.

and then what?
if I should say beauty; I cannot describe. If I should say morality; I cannot speak.

Believe it, I can’t describe her in any way. every time I sit in front of her I try to write words about her but I can’t. why? maybe because I’ve never seen anyone like her. and when I look in her eyes she paralyses me with those eyes, and there I am, unable to move. charms without knowing, seals lips and no lash is closed over lid.

and I can’t leave her in fear of her sweet tender anger like the wings of a butterfly touching my cheek, leaving a lovely trace in my heart and pleasing the beholder.

I love her when she speaks, and respect her when she rages.
I don’t know how I managed to write all of this.
I wish I knew more. because I enjoy writing about her.
your love is a river that runs through my eyes, and your whisper is a breeze that blows through my lids. I love you with all my sins.
your forever loving girl.

Bassam Alkadi - Supervisor, (The knife of honor slices Zahra’s throat!!)
Translated by areej shmaies
Exclusive: “SWO”

SWO (22/1/2007)