Honor Killings of Women Brought to Light

Jordanian journalist Rana Husseini’s new book examines the charged issue of honor killings of women that occur in Jordan, Syria, Pakistan, and other countries. Murder in the Name of Honor chronicles many years of careful research and reporting carried out by Ms Husseini, who writes for the English-language Jordan Times, and has won numerous awards, including the Reebok Human Rights Award.

Honor killings of women and girls are carried out by their male relatives in order to restore the honor of the family due to a woman’s perceived unchaste behavior. The issue is understandably highly sensitive, and until the intrepid and tireless reporting on the subject by Ms Husseini, the subject was not discussed openly. Largely because of Ms Husseini, the issue of honor killings has become a matter of public debate in Jordan. While the Jordanian royal family has long advocated for changes to laws that provide for lenient sentences for those convicted of honor killings, resistance to change has been persistent among certain sectors of society, who believe that toughening the penalties for those committing honor killings would somehow send a signal that unchaste behavior is acceptable. Amnesty International has campaigned to end the tolerance of honor killings in countries such as Jordan and has called for amendments to laws that allow these human rights violations to continue.

Amnesty International reported that there were at least 16 incidents of honor killings in Jordan in 2008. In March 2008 a man who had killed his married sister in 2007 was sentenced to just three months in prison. He murdered her because of her supposedly “immoral behavior” which included leaving home without her husband’s permission and speaking to other men on her mobile phone.

Ms Husseini will be on a tour of the United States over the next month to promote her book. She will be speaking at a number of public events including:

San Francisco on October 14 at 7 pm at the Modern Times Bookstore, 888 Valencia Street.

She will be speaking and signing her book in Chicago on October 19 at 7 pm at the Book Cellar, 4736 N. Lincoln Avenue at an event sponsored by Amnesty International USA and the National Organization for Women. She will be introduced by Rafia Zakaria, a member of Amnesty International’s Board of Directors and an expert on women and Islamic Law.

New York on October 21 at 7 pm at Bluestockings Bookstore 172 Allen Street.

Washington DC on October 27 at 6:00 pm at Busboys and Poets Bookstore, 2021 14th Street.

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25 thoughts on “Honor Killings of Women Brought to Light

  1. So this blog has been fixed today, I see. It might have been due to the problems and glitches that the blog had yesterday.

  2. After I posted this I saw some heartening news: the BBC just reported that a Jordanian man was just sentenced to fifteen years in prison for stabbing his 18-year-old sister to death in an honor killing. Amnesty International has not called for any particular length of prison time to be an appropriate sentence for the crime of honor killing, but has criticized the routine handing down of lenient sentences.

  3. So this blog has been fixed today, I see. It might have been due to the problems and glitches that the blog had yesterday.

  4. After I posted this I saw some heartening news: the BBC just reported that a Jordanian man was just sentenced to fifteen years in prison for stabbing his 18-year-old sister to death in an honor killing. Amnesty International has not called for any particular length of prison time to be an appropriate sentence for the crime of honor killing, but has criticized the routine handing down of lenient sentences.

  5. Thank you for posting Elise. I think I might actually be able to catch her when she's in DC at Busboys & Poets.

    Also interesting to see the 15 year sentence. That IS extremely long when compared to the usual sentences.

  6. Thank you for posting Elise. I think I might actually be able to catch her when she’s in DC at Busboys & Poets.

    Also interesting to see the 15 year sentence. That IS extremely long when compared to the usual sentences.

  7. "While the Jordanian royal family has long advocated for changes to laws that provide for lenient sentences for those convicted of honor killings, resistance to change has been persistent among certain sectors of society,"

    LOL. Like as if the Jordanian royal family has to worry about anything the people of Jordan think or say. If the laws of Jordan allow men to murder their wives, daughters, and sisters with impunity it is because the royal family wants it that way, period.

    Just for the record, Jordan is an absolute dictatorship, with 100% total absolute power resting in the hands of the obviously unelected King Abdullah Hussein. The King is personally in complete executive command of all aspects of the security services, the army, the police, and the judiciary, and holds total veto power over all laws passed by the so-called parliament. The Jordanian parliament, due to the fact that the unelected King picks the prime minister and cabinet and cancels any legislation he does not like at his whim, is not a democratic institution in any normal western sense of the word.

    So please Amnesty, for some reason you guys just love this particular dictatorship ruling Jordan, which by the way is the same regime that massacred 20,000 defenseless Palestinian refugees in one month in 1972 without a single investigation to this day. Please stop trying to constantly promote this ridiculous idea that Jordan, with its royal family in total complete control of every aspect of that country as being in any way shape or form a democracy.

  8. “While the Jordanian royal family has long advocated for changes to laws that provide for lenient sentences for those convicted of honor killings, resistance to change has been persistent among certain sectors of society,”

    LOL. Like as if the Jordanian royal family has to worry about anything the people of Jordan think or say. If the laws of Jordan allow men to murder their wives, daughters, and sisters with impunity it is because the royal family wants it that way, period.

    Just for the record, Jordan is an absolute dictatorship, with 100% total absolute power resting in the hands of the obviously unelected King Abdullah Hussein. The King is personally in complete executive command of all aspects of the security services, the army, the police, and the judiciary, and holds total veto power over all laws passed by the so-called parliament. The Jordanian parliament, due to the fact that the unelected King picks the prime minister and cabinet and cancels any legislation he does not like at his whim, is not a democratic institution in any normal western sense of the word.

    So please Amnesty, for some reason you guys just love this particular dictatorship ruling Jordan, which by the way is the same regime that massacred 20,000 defenseless Palestinian refugees in one month in 1972 without a single investigation to this day. Please stop trying to constantly promote this ridiculous idea that Jordan, with its royal family in total complete control of every aspect of that country as being in any way shape or form a democracy.

  9. The fact of the matter is that the Jordanian Royal Family has publicly and vigorously advocated for changes to Jordan's laws that provide for lenient sentencing of those who perpetrate honor killings. Her Majesty Queen Noor has been a supporter of change for the past ten years and has made her position known through interviews with such outlets as CNN. Rana Husseini was given an award by His Majesty King 'Abdullah in 2007 for her human rights advocacy specifically on the issue of honor killings. Amendments to the laws that had been presented by the government to the elected lower house of the Jordanian Parliament have been met with resistance by the more conservative deputies. Despite that, largely because of Ms Husseini's tireless efforts, Jordanian judges have started to hand down harsher sentences–such as the fifteen-year sentence recently given to a man for murdering his sister. Amnesty International has never characterized Jordan as a "democracy."

  10. The fact of the matter is that the Jordanian Royal Family has publicly and vigorously advocated for changes to Jordan’s laws that provide for lenient sentencing of those who perpetrate honor killings. Her Majesty Queen Noor has been a supporter of change for the past ten years and has made her position known through interviews with such outlets as CNN. Rana Husseini was given an award by His Majesty King ‘Abdullah in 2007 for her human rights advocacy specifically on the issue of honor killings. Amendments to the laws that had been presented by the government to the elected lower house of the Jordanian Parliament have been met with resistance by the more conservative deputies. Despite that, largely because of Ms Husseini’s tireless efforts, Jordanian judges have started to hand down harsher sentences–such as the fifteen-year sentence recently given to a man for murdering his sister. Amnesty International has never characterized Jordan as a “democracy.”

  11. Elise Auerbach:

    LOL.
    So you continue to claim that the Jordanian King, who you yourself admit is by any commonly accepted definition of the word is an absolute dictator, with total unquestioned, complete power over the police, security services, prosecutors, judiciary, press, parliament, prime minister and cabinet of Jordon, that that King with so much total power, a person who can for example order anyone in that country imprisoned with the snap of his fingers, has desperately for years and years wanted killing of women by thier families to be punished more severely in Jordan but just has not had the power to change the law untill recently?

    Just exactly who are you trying to kid anyways?

  12. Elise Auerbach:

    LOL.
    So you continue to claim that the Jordanian King, who you yourself admit is by any commonly accepted definition of the word is an absolute dictator, with total unquestioned, complete power over the police, security services, prosecutors, judiciary, press, parliament, prime minister and cabinet of Jordon, that that King with so much total power, a person who can for example order anyone in that country imprisoned with the snap of his fingers, has desperately for years and years wanted killing of women by thier families to be punished more severely in Jordan but just has not had the power to change the law untill recently?

    Just exactly who are you trying to kid anyways?

  13. Elise Auerbach:

    LOL.
    So you continue to claim that the Jordanian King, who you yourself admit is by any commonly accepted definition of the word is an absolute dictator, with total unquestioned, complete power over the police, security services, prosecutors, judiciary, press, parliament, prime minister and cabinet of Jordon, that that King with so much total power, a person who can for example order anyone in that country imprisoned with the snap of his fingers, has desperately for years and years wanted killing of women by thier families to be punished more severely in Jordan but just has not had the power to change the law untill recently?

    Just exactly who are you trying to kid anyways?

  14. Elise Auerbach:

    LOL.
    So you continue to claim that the Jordanian King, who you yourself admit is by any commonly accepted definition of the word is an absolute dictator, with total unquestioned, complete power over the police, security services, prosecutors, judiciary, press, parliament, prime minister and cabinet of Jordon, that that King with so much total power, a person who can for example order anyone in that country imprisoned with the snap of his fingers, has desperately for years and years wanted killing of women by thier families to be punished more severely in Jordan but just has not had the power to change the law untill recently?

    Just exactly who are you trying to kid anyways?

  15. Elise Auerbach:

    LOL.
    So you continue to claim that the Jordanian King, who you yourself admit is by any commonly accepted definition of the word is an absolute dictator, with total unquestioned, complete power over the police, security services, prosecutors, judiciary, press, parliament, prime minister and cabinet of Jordon, that that King with so much total power, a person who can for example order anyone in that country imprisoned with the snap of his fingers, has desperately for years and years wanted killing of women by thier families to be punished more severely in Jordan but just has not had the power to change the law untill recently?

    Just exactly who are you trying to kid anyways?

  16. Elise Auerbach:

    LOL.
    So you continue to claim that the Jordanian King, who you yourself admit is by any commonly accepted definition of the word is an absolute dictator, with total unquestioned, complete power over the police, security services, prosecutors, judiciary, press, parliament, prime minister and cabinet of Jordon, that that King with so much total power, a person who can for example order anyone in that country imprisoned with the snap of his fingers, has desperately for years and years wanted killing of women by thier families to be punished more severely in Jordan but just has not had the power to change the law untill recently?

    Just exactly who are you trying to kid anyways?

  17. Elise Auerbach:

    LOL.
    So you continue to claim that the Jordanian King, who you yourself admit is by any commonly accepted definition of the word is an absolute dictator, with total unquestioned, complete power over the police, security services, prosecutors, judiciary, press, parliament, prime minister and cabinet of Jordon, that that King with so much total power, a person who can for example order anyone in that country imprisoned with the snap of his fingers, has desperately for years and years wanted killing of women by thier families to be punished more severely in Jordan but just has not had the power to change the law untill recently?

    Just exactly who are you trying to kid anyways?

  18. I never said that the King of Jordan is an absolute dictator. Please point out to me where I said that. The history of attempts to amend articles of the Jordanian penal code that provide for reduced sentencing for those who commit honor killings is quite clear and I have been summarizing what has happened to those attempts–they were introduced by the government but faced opposition in the lower house of parliament–the chamber of deputies–which is an elected body.

  19. I never said that the King of Jordan is an absolute dictator. Please point out to me where I said that. The history of attempts to amend articles of the Jordanian penal code that provide for reduced sentencing for those who commit honor killings is quite clear and I have been summarizing what has happened to those attempts–they were introduced by the government but faced opposition in the lower house of parliament–the chamber of deputies–which is an elected body.

  20. So the Jordanian King still has today in the year 2009 the kinds of powers that the English Kings have not had since they were stripped of them by the Magna Carta in the year 1215, but never the less you still stubbornly stick with your claim was he was just too politically weak to get a law passed in Parliament to prevent thousands of Jordanian women from being murdered by their family members over the last decade?

    Okay, fine, assume you are right.

    So then why did the King not just pass a law by decree to this effect during the 2 years from 2001 to 2003 when he had suspended Parliament and was ruling purely by royal decree?

    During these 2 years Jordan had no parliament at all because the King had dismissed them and was enacting laws entirely on his own without a parliament. During this 2 year period in fact the King enacted over 100 laws, including laws that for example, limited the Jordanian Parliament's powers and other laws that limited free elections when he decided to permit them to resume in 2004.

    Since he took the power during these 2 years to enact major laws by his royal decree alone, why did he not also decree a law protecting Jordanian women from being mass murdered by their own brothers, mothers and fathers?

  21. So the Jordanian King still has today in the year 2009 the kinds of powers that the English Kings have not had since they were stripped of them by the Magna Carta in the year 1215, but never the less you still stubbornly stick with your claim was he was just too politically weak to get a law passed in Parliament to prevent thousands of Jordanian women from being murdered by their family members over the last decade?

    Okay, fine, assume you are right.

    So then why did the King not just pass a law by decree to this effect during the 2 years from 2001 to 2003 when he had suspended Parliament and was ruling purely by royal decree?

    During these 2 years Jordan had no parliament at all because the King had dismissed them and was enacting laws entirely on his own without a parliament. During this 2 year period in fact the King enacted over 100 laws, including laws that for example, limited the Jordanian Parliament’s powers and other laws that limited free elections when he decided to permit them to resume in 2004.

    Since he took the power during these 2 years to enact major laws by his royal decree alone, why did he not also decree a law protecting Jordanian women from being mass murdered by their own brothers, mothers and fathers?

  22. These killings are true hatred towards women kind. Men are supposed to be loving father, caring brothers, affectionate husband and great uncles but they are turning into vicious animals, coward killers and terrible humankind.

    Women are same and equal creation of GOD. And they should be allowed to live freely with liberty of speech and actions. Who will stand against illiterate ,men of certain countries who murder women in name of religion. But religion does not allow this neither does God.

  23. These killings are true hatred towards women kind. Men are supposed to be loving father, caring brothers, affectionate husband and great uncles but they are turning into vicious animals, coward killers and terrible humankind.

    Women are same and equal creation of GOD. And they should be allowed to live freely with liberty of speech and actions. Who will stand against illiterate ,men of certain countries who murder women in name of religion. But religion does not allow this neither does God.