Will crimes of honor in Jordan ever be abolished?

Will crimes of honor in Jordan ever be abolished?

Last night on twitter I read that the statistics for crimes of honor in Jordan have reached a count of 13 for the year of 2010, and it felt like someone has stabbed me in the chest, because deep inside I knew the number was inaccurate, knowing that many of the women who are victims of such heinous crimes are buried in unmarked graved and there are many occasions where such brutality is not reported. I couldn’t help but wonder if such backward behavior would ever end.

As it was reported, the latest victim was 15 years of age, and was forced into a marriage which has ended in a divorce within a month, when she was forced back to her parent’s house in Ma’an and was imprisoned and chained up. On December 3rd her 19 year old brother suffocated her to death upon an agreement with his mother and siblings. Sadly the mayor of the village has participated in this hideous act and has issued an official paper stating that the victim was suffering from chronic diseases which have led to her death, but as it turns out a citizen reported it otherwise, and a coroner at a local morgue pronounced it as a crime of honor.

Crimes of honor or honor crimes as some may call it are very common crimes against women in the Middle East and North Africa region. Those crimes are very serious as most of them result in murdering the women sometimes as young as 13 years old by a family member, sometimes the father; brother and even uncles and cousins are involved in this brutal ritual which most tribes and families consider cleansing the family’s name and honor.

Although this critical issue has reached the supreme court in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan on numerous occasions, it has not been resolved and the punishment for a murderer who has committed an honor crime does not exceed three months if not less, and because of the legal system in Jordan and the tribal backgrounds of most families and cults it is almost impossible to raise punishments of honor crimes and therefore many people see it as an acceptable excuse to commit such heinous crimes.

Am just thinking out loud here and wondering, will anyone succeed in making a difference towards this law?! After all Crimes of honor in Jordan is a very delicate and sensitive issue which is still a taboo to discuss in our country and other close Arabic countries, however when will it stop?!

Those crimes against women are a form of violence against women rights and cannot be defined into anything other than pure murder and brutality as crimes of honour are usually committed by a family member, it could be a father, a brother and even a son, and in some cases it may also include members of the extended family such as a cousin or an uncle.

According to the National Geographic News, Hillary Mayell reported in 2002 that teenage brothers are well known for committing such horrible crimes, “teenage brothers are frequently directed to commit murder because, as minors, they could be subject to considerably lighter sentencing in there is a legal action. Typically, they would serve only three months to a year.”

Zaynab Nawaz, a program assistant for women’s rights at AMNESTY International also reported n National Graphics article which was reported by Hillary Mayel that “females in the family, mothers, mothers in law, sisters and cousins – frequently support the attacks. It’s a community mentality.”

While attending a seminar at the New York Institute of Technology in March, I got the chance to listen to Ms. Rana Swies (Women’s Rights Activist in Jordan) and Ms. Rana Husseini (Journalist at the Jordan Times and author of Murder in the Name of Honour) they both spoke about the reasons women are abused in Jordan, and have highlighted the following reasons at the Women’s History Panel.

  • Women are afraid of speaking up because they are scared of their name being published in the media, and therefore the issue cannot be tackled.
  • The issue is a taboo to be spoken about, therefore it seems impossible to validate actual reasons of why those crimes are committed and cannot be fought.

So where do we go from here? Do we stop fighting? Or do we go on?! Many blame Islam as a religion as an excuse for those heinous crimes however: “There is nothing in the Holy Quran that permits or sanctions honor killings. However, the view of women as a property with no rights of their own is deeply rooted in the Islamic culture.” Wrote Tahira Shahid Khan in her review Chained to Custom a professor specialized in womens issues at the Aga Khan Univesity in Pakistan.

The more I have researched statistics and press releases, the bigger my disappointment in how such crimes are tackled in Jordan. In December 2002, according to “Jordan Times”; the government-introduced amendments to Article 340 of the Penal Code that scrapped penalty exemptions for killers in what are loosely termed “crimes of honor.” The amendments, which kept reductions for men, entitled women also to benefit from reduced penalties if they committed murder after discovering their husbands had committed adultery.

However this doesn’t not cancel the penalties on crimes of honor they actually give women a reason to kill their husbands or fathers if they were caught cheating or un-loyal. Is this what we want under the name of “equality”? To justify crimes of honour for both men and women, instead of making those crimes an official murder where anyone could be punished as any other serial killer or murderer for taking a life that their not entitled to end?!

I really pray for a solution to all of this, and hope that one day, we can end it once and for all, but for the time being I strongly urge each and every one of you to read “La Sharaf fi Al-Jareemah” meaning there is no honor in crime, http://lasharaffiljareemah.ning.com/ – a movement dedicated to abolishing crimes of honor.


Director of Digital Marketing Strategy by Day, Blogger by Night. Mother to my lovely Hana and a food addict.

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  1. “The amendments, which kept reductions for men, entitled women also to benefit from reduced penalties if they committed murder after discovering their husbands had committed adultery.”

    i think that this is a BIG FAT LIE !!!
    (not made by you of-course)
    because only women are murdered, why dont you murder the men who commit adultery with the same murdered girl !!! doesnt he bring Shame to his family…

    thank you for writing about this, i highly encourage you to keep updating us and writing about this subject, so we can make a change, even if its a small one…
    thanks again :

  2. Well done, Lara.Don’t give up.

    Thanks for the plug for La Sharaf Fil Jareemah, too. I appreciate their work all the more if some women are afraid to speak out.

  3. Wish I could say there is a “light at the end of the tunnel” but sadly; this horrible violence against women will continue until a change in the Laws are made, and most importantly – enforced. As you eloquently stated; it is a systemic problem. Although honor killings seem to be more prevalent in the Middle-East; violence against women and the inequities in the law, are not much better in the US and Canada. The US and Canada have made good progress to curtail the inequities in the Law but we have much more work to do. Finally, the progress the US and Canada has made; were because women took a stand and said — no more! Men won’t make the change; it will be young women like you, in fact women of all ages to take a stand and say – no more! Keep writing Lara, and encourage women’s groups to protest the Parliament etc. etc.

  4. why don’t you ask your king or queen to ABOLISH it , Iam sure they could it with a strike of a pen ,no?

  5. عزيزتي
    اقدر لك مشاعرك الانسانيه،ولكن علي توضيح بعض الحقائق وارجو منك ان تاخذيها بعين الاعتبار،لقد انتهى العصر الذي كانت فيه عقوبة مثل هذه الجرائم هي اشهر محدوده،هنالك تشديد من قبل القضاء بهيئه خاصه حول التحقق من الاستفاده من مادة 98للعذر المخفف ،مما جعل العقوبه تصل في بعض الاحيان الى عشر سنوات والمشكله تكمن في الماده المتعلقه باسقاط الحق الشخصي فمثلا في جريمه ارتكبها الاب الذي كان مغتصبا لابنته على مدار سنوات وتبلغ من العمر 16 سنه تم الحكم عليه بالاعدام ونتيجة اسقاط الام للحق السخصي خفضت العقوبه الى 10 سنوات،وبالنسبه للماده 340 فالاحصائيات تشير الى انه خلال 50 سنه تقريبا لم يستفد منها الاحالتين على الاكثر ،نعم وجودها عار على الانسانيه ومخالف للشريعه ومخالف للدستور ولكن لا تؤثر في الحكم القضائي ،والاحصائيات تشير الى ان عدد هذه الجرائم يتراوح من 15/25سنويا والجريمه التي تحدثت عنها هي رقم17 لهذه السنه،صحيح ان هنالك جرائم يتم اخفاؤها ولكن هذا يحدث حتى في دوله مثل بريطانيا،علينا ان نفعل شيئا ويجب ان تتم مراقبة القضاء ،والوقوف ضد استخدام الحق الشخصي في مثل هذه الجرائم لانها جريمه عائليه يشترك فيها كل افراد العائله ،وتزغرد لها نساء الجاني/المجني عليها
    نحن في حملة اين نقف ندعوك الى هذه المشاركه وستم اطلاق حملتنا في 17/9/2011 وهي منبثقه عن لا شرف في الجريمه.

  6. Violence against women is certainly not the monopoly of middle eatern countries. In the United States 1,181 females were killed by their intimate partners in 2005 (a number proportionally larger than Jordan). In France, 156 women were killed by their intimate partner in 2008. In Spain, 73 women died at home at the hands of their partners in 2010. I do not believe the motivation of such crimes is relevant: honor killing or other. As Ihsan Momani (above) indicated, these crimes go against Sharia law and have more to do with traditions than religion. In a society which is greatly influenced by religion, the best way to fight these crimes is through a better religious education.

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