“Honor, Enforced”
Murdered by her Youngest Brother, One Woman Paid the Ultimate Price for Breaking with Tradition
A True Story

“Honor, Enforced” tells the inside story of Germany’s most famous victim of an honor killing – Hatun “Aynur” Sürücü.

A Kurdish German who lived in Berlin, Hatun was gunned down by her youngest brother Ayhan on a cold February night in 2005. Before he pulled the trigger, he confronted his sister one last time about her lifestyle….

Hatun had rolled the dice, betting that she could live her own life without having to renounce her family. She lost that wager when her baby brother pumped three bullets into her face: Hatun was dead within ten minutes.

Hatun Sürücü paid with her life for her desire to define it for herself. Yet the vibrant young mother lives on. Her friends, members of her family, activists and politicians continue to lay wreaths on the garden of her memory. Friends and family yearn to have back the good soul who constantly spread humor and excitement. Activists use her story to help other women avoid the same fate. And politicians cite Hatun as an example when they crusade for stricter laws against forced marriage.

Hatun enjoys all this attention, yet no one really knows who she is. In “Honor, Enforced,” readers will find out for the first time the struggles Hatun faced after she broke with her family and struck out on her own. They will experience petite and energetic Hatun as she celebrates her new life one day but faces depression, fear and financial problems the next.

“Honor, Enforced” is a contribution to a growing body of literature about Muslim women in Europe.


Note from Rhea: This manuscript is unfinished and was never published, but it was a great learning experience to work on the project and write what I did.

To learn more about so-called honor killings, I recommend the film When We Leave which has strong parallels to Hatun’s life.

I interviewed the filmmaker and the lead actress, Sibel Kekilli, who both say the film is not about Hatun, despite major storyline overlap. It’s a powerful film that shines light on the shocking injustices that women still face.

Click for more about the project: Why my book project failed

Rhea’s lesson’s learned from the book project:

Rule 1: Nail your story structure early on

Rule 2: Be realistic about the problems you face and reconsider the story structure/form based on the problems. Be willing to rethink your project along the way.

Rule 3: Think doable. Don’t bite off more than you can chew. Tame your ambition.

Rule 4: Don’t lose your momentum.

Rule 5: Conquer your self-doubts and fears. Just do it.