Chechen convicted of ‘honour killing’

23 March 2017

A six-year-old murder case has been solved in Chechnya, after a man turned himself in to police, confessing to murdering a female cousin. The court took into account his frank confession and imposed a sentence less than half of the maximum.

Sayfulla Damayev, from the village of Savelyevskaya in northern Chechnya’s Naursky District, had quarrelled with his female cousin in July 2010, because, according to him, the woman’s behaviour was ‘not worthy of a Chechen woman’. During the quarrel, Damayev stabbed the woman several times with a knife, killing her. He buried the body in a forest near the village.

Damayev came forward to police and confessed after almost seven years. It’s unclear whether he was motivated by remorse, or the hope of having his sentenced reduced. During the short investigation, he described all the details of the murder, and claimed that he only intended to convince his cousin to lead a ‘modest and proper way of life’. According to him, she told him that he had no right to give her instructions on how to live. Damayev then stabbed her several times with a knife — according to him, in a crime of passion.

On 22 March, the Naursky District Court sentenced Damayev to six years in a maximum-security penal colony followed by eight months on parole.

‘Honour killings’ are a rare phenomenon in Chechnya. Such murders sometimes occur where, in the opinion of relatives, a girl or woman has offended the ‘honour’ of the family with her conduct, such as in engaging in extramarital sex or drinking alcohol. Honour killings are not a widely accepted practice in Chechen society, with many people blaming women’s male relatives when a woman’s behaviour is considered unacceptable.

Chechen authorities have been attempting to revive many Chechen traditions, which, intentionally or not has made such murders more widespread. Chechen TV channels, for example, will sometimes show a video of a young woman going with male friends for a trip to the mountains, as an example of shameful behaviour.

Several years ago, seven women were murdered in Grozny, who according to local media, ‘led a corrupt way of life’. The case was never properly investigated and was soon suspended.

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