Faith-Based Murder: Jordanian Activists Document False Honor Killing Claims

Jordanian human rights advocates are fighting to raise awareness of not just the roughly two dozen honor killings in that country each year, but the fact that some of these killings are being falsely portrayed as motivated by religious values. Indeed, Jordan’s first female coroner, Israa Tawalbeh, has identified one 18-year-old girl named Maha who was killed by her brother when she refused to continue to work for him as a prostitute — he claimed to have killed her for his family’s honor.

Tawalbeh found that Maha’s brother was a drug addict with a criminal record who ran the family’s prostitution ring in Amman. He successfully claimed an honor killing and was given only a two-year sentence. Tawalbeh insists “[n]obody cared that the girl wanted to quit the prostitution business. Her brother got away because it is a male-dominated society and it is unfair.”

Others have found cases where honor killings are claimed when male relatives simply wanted inheritance money in the family.

According to Human Rights Watch, 95 percent of women killed in 1997 in Jordan in alleged honour killings were later proved to be innocent.

Jordan actually codified the right to kill for honor. Article 340 of the penal code states that a defendant who “surprises his wife or any close female relative” in an act of adultery or fornication may invoke a defence of “crime of honour.”

There have been a steady stream of shocking “honor killing” cases out of the Middle East in the last year — showing not a sudden increase in killings but an sudden increase in world attention to the abuse of women in these countries, here and here and here.

It is not surprising that, when countries tolerate or even codify the tradition of honor killing, it will be used as an excuse for murder in some cases. The question is how long it will take for countries to identify the mistreatment of women in these countries as a human rights violation and call for international action.

For the full story, click here.

8 thoughts on “Faith-Based Murder: Jordanian Activists Document False Honor Killing Claims”

  1. Just to put things in perspective:

    From the 2008 UN Report on Violence Against Women

    “Several global surveys suggest that half of all women who die from homicide are killed by their current or former husbands or partners. In Australia, Canada, Israel, South Africa and the United States, 40%-70% of female murder victims were killed by their partners.”

  2. Jill and Rafflaw,
    It strikes me that sometimes all of us lose sight of the truth that women’s rights is an issue of greater implication than equality for women. No society is truly free without equality between the sexes and for those who have varied places in the sexual spectrum.

    McCain’s references to (and leers at)Palin are creepy and his history suggests this has been a lifelong predilection. The fathers who are so preoccupied with their daughter’s virginity that they would participate in these ceremonies, are equally creepy. Beliefs that place women as subservient to men are the creations of either misogynist males, or those who doubt their own malehood.

  3. Jill,
    that was a great posting with the quote from the RNC delegagte. I am amazed that the family values Republicans haven’t been taken to task about that statement. Obama should ask McCain if a married man can have a soulmate other than his wife.

  4. rafflaw,

    Yes she should be. That’s a slap in her face. I linked with a Salon article by a man who was a cop at the RNC. It has much in it that links to a number of JT’s and other’s posts. The last line is instructive (in quotes below link).

    ” But Charles Hunter, an environmentalist delegate from New Hampshire and a veteran of Republican conventions going back to the 1980 coronation of Ronald Reagan at Detroit’s Joe Louis Arena, can’t sleep at all.

    “This is my last convention,” he tells me, lighting a cigarette.


    “I’m a real McCain guy. I served. But I liked the old McCain — when he was a true hero, before he signed on with the yahoos. I actually believe in ‘country first.'”

    “Not a fan of Palin?”

    “If I were McCain I’d probably bring her onto my ticket, too. That’s exactly the problem. I guess I tricked myself into thinking that McCain, even after he watered himself down for the election, could somehow restore sanity. The Democrats tried to paint him as a twin of Bush. Not true. But Palin … she does remind me of Bush. McCain has made a devil’s pact and sealed this party’s fate.”

    Even though he’s older, he smokes his cigarette like a young man, with earnest haste, before he flicks it off into the dark.

    “That’s it,” he said, “we’re through. Even if we win, we’ve lost.””

  5. The “she is my soulmate” comment bugged also. Shouldn’t Cindy McCain be upset with McCain calling another woman his soulmate? Very creepy!

  6. I think you’re right. Just imagine saying; “I’d like to bring little ole Tommy Ridge to Washington” (although at least he’s been there before, not just as a tourist!). It’s creepy and I’m sure what you saw McCain do means just what you think it does!

  7. Jill,
    I was very interested in your “men own women” statement because I see McCain and Palin in much the same light. Did anyone else see the face McCain gave to his wife when she wasn’t standing in the right place on the stage after his “thrilling” speech? If looks could kill we would have to indict him now. Palin also was getting the gentle”push” because she also was not standing where he wanted her to be standing. One of his comments about Palin in his speech was also very interesting. He said something to the effect of “wait till I bring Sarah Palin to Washington”. To me that smacks of the “men own women” idea because he is the one who will bring her to Washington. I would imagine it could have just as easily be written something like this: “I can’t wait to see Washington’s reaction when Sarah Palin goes to Washinton”. But then John McCain would not be in charge of where she was going. Subtle issues, but I think they tell a big story about McCain and Palin.

  8. This tradition arises from the idea that men own women. Here’s a quote from a christian girl at her “purity” ball–hope will be seeing more of this with McCain/Palin:

    “The girls, many wearing purity rings, made silent vows. “I promise to God and myself and my family that I will stay pure in my thoughts and actions until I marry,” said Katie Swindler, 16.” (NYT)

    I don’t think it’s accurate to say these are not traditions without support in the “religions of the book”. Men owning women is a part of religious teachings in all of these and most other cultures. It is also coded in secular law. This is destructive of everything good between men and women and no one should justify it, under any circumstances.

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