Jordan’s Honor Killings; From Cultural Defense to a Lenient Legal System

We live in the year 2020, where the entire world has become more developed, yet there are still women being killed to “defend the family’s honor”, and in some countries, there are no laws criminalizing such practices.

Jordan, for instance, has one of the world’s highest rates of honor killings. Unlike other forms of murder, honor crimes are not taken with the same seriousness because they fall under a family’s right to protect its reputation from “shame”.

Article 340 of the Jordanian Penal Code states that a man who kills or violently attacks his wife or a female relative while committing adultery can have a reduction in penalty. The penalty can be further reduced under Article 98, where the crime was committed in a “state of fury”. To add to that, under Article 97, when a court applies the “fit of fury” defense for premeditated murder, the penalty can be further reduced, sometimes reaching just one year of imprisonment.

Unfortunately, it isn’t just the laws that need amendment, it’s the intrinsic culture of injustice against women that needs to change.

Recently, a tragic story about a Jordanian woman called Ahlam made headlines after her father attacked and killed her using a cement block, and then sat to drink tea and smoke a cigarette next to her dead body. Ahlam had apparently suffered years of physical abuse at the hands of her father and brothers and was trying to flee from home.

Daughters, wives, and sisters are held liable for the reputation of the family; they can either bring pride to the rest of the family, or shame. This is a crime that exists in several parts of the world, not just the Middle East, and can be traced back hundreds of years. Like any other crime of violence against women, if there aren’t enough campaigns, movements, and awareness, it will just keep happening. Persistence can trigger change.

WE SAID THIS: Let’s speak up to end all kinds of violence against women!