Monday, July 30, 2007

Gendercide: "Honor" Killings in Jordan

Dua Khalil; stoned to death for being seen with a man from a different religion. Muqadas Bibi and her younger sisters; throats slit by their stepfather after Muqadas leaves her abusive husband. Dalia; stabbed by her father 12 times because she fell in love with a man of a different religion. All of these women were killed in the name of "honor". "Honor" killing means that a woman is killed when she "taints" family honor. When this happens tribal custom dictates that the only way to cleanse the family is to kill her. "90% of the cases that occur are based on just rumour and suspicion. So 90% of the women that are killed are still virgins at the time of death," says Norma Khouri (see * below) who wrote a book to commemorate her friend who was a victim of honor killings.

In Jordan, about 20 to 25 honor killings occur each year; accounting for 1/3 of all violent killings in the country! This number, however, doesn't include all the women who go into hiding or flee their country to escape, fearing for their lives. Currently Jordan's laws protects the killings; "A husband or a close blood relative who kills a woman caught in a situation highly suspicious of adultery will be totally exempt from sentence. (Article 340 of the criminal code)". Even if the relative is charged, they face only 3 months to 2 years in prison. "If you rob a house you get a higher sentence than for killing a woman!" said Mion Nagi a woman journalist from Jordan (picture on the right).

There is a Jordanian Women's Union that was established back in 1945 to assist women and educate them. The 10 branches of the Union focus on teaching women to read and write and also to help them understand their legal rights. Nadia Shamroukh (who runs the Union) said, "You can't separate social, political, and economic issues for women, because we believe women's rights are part of human rights." In recent years the Union's primary focus has been to raise awareness on honor killings. But no one has been more efficient at than the journalist Rana Husseini. Rana was just starting off as a journalist at the Jordan Times when she read about a 16-year-old girl who was shot by her brother. Back in the 90's it was taboo to write about honor killings. Facing public ignorance and the media's silence, Husseini decided to keep writing about the crimes. "I wanted to be their voice," she said. For her work Husseini received the Reebok Human Rights Award. Now most newspapers are reporting on honor killings, domestic violence, child abuse, and sexual abuse. Even the government is now acknowledging that the murders are happening. And while the "official" number of murders is different than those reported by Rana, she says it is a step forward. "At least the government acknowledges the problem," Rana said, "This is an important success, because then you can push them to find solutions."

While I chose to write exclusively on Jordan, it is not the only country that has reported "honor" killings; Brazil, Ecuador, Italy, Sweden, and Britain have also have these killings. The United Nations estimates that, throughout the world, 5 thousand woman are killed annually due to honor killings.

To read more about other countries and their problems with "honor" killings or to find out more about gendercide click here.
*I must make a correction. The book written by Norma Khouri, as I mentioned above, is fraudulent. I would normally just overwrite it, but I'm afraid a lot of people have already read this article. Thanks to the reader to clued me into this fact. You can read an article about the fraud here.

Peace, friends.


joanne said...

Stop honour killings!

You might note that the story of 'Dalia' which you have linked is fraudulent. Rana Husseini blames Norma Khoury, author of the fictional memoir for setting back the struggle against 'honour' killing in Jordan 10 years with her innaccurate and overstated book.

Anonymous said...

Have you even read the book?