March 24, 2009

Honor Crimes: Enough Is Enough

Yes I've been trying to ignore the subject lately. Because every time I read about another case, I feel like a little part of me dies inside. We're watching innocent victims die every other day and we're doing nothing. I feel so angry at the fact that there ARE people who can be doing something about it but they're not. I've said this before and I'm going to say it again. There's no point of trying to make Jordan look like the modern country where equality prevails when women are being murdered frequently and their killers are set free. I couldn't care less if we have female police officers or plumbers as long as a father can kill his daughter for wearing makeup and be guaranteed to get away with it. The last time somebody tried to do something about it was almost 10 years ago. A decade ago. Since then nothing has been done and this disgusting charade continues. What scares me is that we've gotten so used to them to the point where no possible story could shock us. We ALL need to become outraged by this. We should never accept it as the status quo.

So here's a start. Join in Kinzi's initiative to flood the Jordan Times with emails about the subject expressing our anger. Just send in whatever feelings you have about this subject at

I've attached here Narmeen Murad's article in the Jordan Times.
A father and his two underage sons tortured and killed their 19-year-old daughter and sister because she reportedly was caught wearing makeup while out on an errand with her younger brother. Her uncle, who caught her apparently walking in an area other than the one she said she was going to, brought her back to her father and reported her “crime”.

I want to repeat this news. A young girl, a teenager, was relentlessly beaten with water hoses mercilessly and continuously by three men until she died. Initial reports indicate that the police arrested the three after she was declared dead by the doctor. The father, who led the two-hour beatings, shared his hose with his underage sons and encouraged them to join in the beating. Now this has been designated as an “honour crime”.

Welcome to Jordan in the 21st century. This case underlines the paradox of messages from this apparently modern country that has taken a leading position in the region with its progress despite its limited resources, yet still allows its human resources and future to remain hostage to archaic practices that have no relevance to the majority of society.

Parliament has rejected amendments to a law that would have banned the use of a ‘fit of fury’ clause to stop the practice of letting the perpetrators of crimes against women go free. Instead they have continued to support heartless and unnecessary murder, which is masked as a claim to have cleansed the honour of their families. This is the same Parliament that has failed women repeatedly thereby institutionalising open discrimination and the subordination of women to their male “guardians” as well as condoning violence against women.

The fact that Parliament does not fairly represent the makeup of society not only serves to maintain the integrity, and therefore supremacy, of only a certain category of people in the country politically - which is obviously the aim of the legislator - but it also allows this mentality to continue derailing all efforts to improve the legal status of women in the Kingdom. This Parliament, which was elected to serve all the people, has silenced half of the population because of their gender.

Women activists, including some of the most influential women in the country, have spoken out and advocated against what can only be described as stark legislative discrimination against women in Jordan, to no avail. The reason behind their failure is not that “society” is intrinsically against these changes, but because the cause of women has not been taken up by our male leaders who have left gender issues to women and forgot that it is the responsibility of societies as a whole to ensure that all members of that society are treated fairly and with justice.

When was the last time the prime minister made statements about improving the situation of women in Jordan? When was the last time the government intervened with Parliament and used its considerable clout to ensure the passing of laws that would change the lives of women for the better? Clearly there is no political will to improve the status of women in Jordan or even extend them the minimum protection against violence and inexplicable discrimination. As long as that political will is absent there will be no change.

An adult woman has the right to make choices in her life including personal ones. We all know this. We all know that men and women are equal in their humanity, their intelligence and their needs. We all know that it is not acceptable for any man to use force on a woman. We all know that the majority of Jordanians would not stand by idly and quietly and watch a woman being beaten to death without stepping in to stop it or even prevent it in the first place.

If we the people can’t stand to watch murder being perpetrated, how long are we going to accept that the government does exactly this? The government is watching the murder it has condoned.

Every single member of the Cabinet and every single senior official and every single journalist, judge, lawyer, activist and citizen who isn’t doing something to stop this “horror show” of crime against women, is doing exactly that: watching the long episode of torture and murder without batting an eyelid or lifting a finger. We watched this show 18 times last year. We have watched it seven times already this year. In every show a human being is robbed of their chance at life by an apathetic society.

I think we should all be ashamed of ourselves.

I really admire her courage to candidly speak about this. All I have to add is this: for all of you in a position of power, shame on you. From leadership to government to the parliament, shame on you. Do something. ANYTHING.


Saed said...


Now apart from the shame, I do hope that flooding them with emails would help.

And I do hope that the king himself can say something, I doubt he would do that, and I thought to some level he's a role model.

The world is changing and it's time people realize it.

I know that tribalism does cause corruption in the country, we all do, maybe it gets far enough to allow this kind of horrors to occur.

It goes deeper than yelling at a bunch of people, and deeper than, it goes way way deeper.

Call me a dumbass and I know a lot of you ignorant people will, but I think that the government can definately do something about this, and I REALLY doubt people in the parliament would kill women like that.

Tribalism in my opinion is very much involved in this and it is a disease.

Dunno what else to say really.

Hell, at some level I think it's almost neccessary for us people to take personal or low blows to be heard.

It's sick.

Beat her to death?

Shoo later they legalize beating women for leaving the effing kitchen?

SICK people... 2 hours just whipping and hearing her scream, what is this world coming to?

Weak, sick-minded, idiotic. ignorant people...

Tala said...

>>> Parliament has rejected amendments to [honor killing] law

And who do you think designed the constitution to grossly over represent tribal regions while grossly under representing urban populations?

And who do you think hand-picked these retarded parliamentarians in an election that banned international or local independent monitors?





kinzi said...

Farah, thanks for adding your voice on your blog.It will be your generation that makes this happen, so you are not allowed to get cynical yet ;)

Please check out Roba's blog, where commenter Deena and others have created a wiki-doc action plan. Some great thinkers there!

Tala, I am sorry for how my country has messed yours up, in many ways.

Instead of doing the 'rinse and repeat' blame America dance, please join us women in doing what we can to change things with today's resources in today's world. You obviously have a passion for change, please add your energies to the cause.:)

kinzi said...

oh yea, and it was actually T at Jo Ladies who got me fired up :)

Tara said...

Kinzi, you are not the brightest American I have ever met but I have a soft spot for your single mindedness and simplicity. I am not against you or anyone else shouting their lungs out at the wrong crowds in Jordan who are helpless. That's your business. A more effective approach, one that has a better chance of producing results, is for you to go to the source. Ask your American friends to send letters to your president Obama asking him to link US aid to Jordan with the abolition of Jordan's Bozo Constitution and the draft of a real modern Constitution with provisions for real democratic elections. Or at least write to demand the King use his Banana Parliament to abolish laws legalizing murder of Jordanian women. That's about the only effective way to save about 10 Jordanian women from getting murdered each year. Nothing will stop crimes of honor or passion, not in Jordan or anywhere else, but justice must be blind to gender. Now go pick up the phone and call the White House switchboard.

Tia said...

umm what are people fighting about here!

Honour crimes are just a symptom of a culture aspect, sadly speaking!

But I do believe that imposing a stricter consequences will get people to think before actually murdering a female relative.

Still, I think that the aspect should be looked/studied and fixed, which is going to take probably longer than a generation or two.

Tarshaa said...

Tia, how in the world can a phenomena that's facilitated by a handful of US-backed despotic men, King Abdullah II and his hand-picked Banana Parliament, reflect on the culture of Jordan, when Jordanians do not have any say in the laws of Jordan? Are you people pretending to be stupid or just plain racist? Or may be Americans love their imposed King so much and have invested in him billions of dollars that they prefer to engage in this ridiculously Kafkaesque awareness campaign that ignores the White Elephant's monopoly over honor killing laws (King Abdullah II) and instead keep beating his victims on the head with something they have no control over. This campaign is starting to sound like an anti-Arab defamation campaign and nothing more. You either confront you little puppet King to end honor killing or you stop defaming us. This racism has to stop. Had Jordan been a true democracy, you have every right to berate Jordanians. BUT JORDAN IS NOT. HOW MANY TIMES DO WE HAVE TO REPEAT IT BEFORE YOU GET IT.

ahmad dark 1987 said...

there is another side to blame on why the parliment haven't done any thing to stop these disgusting crimes and they are us jordanians .
who was the one to elect such parliment?.
of cource it is us and as long we don't start to better our choices and choose those who will work to the country not for the tribe and the pocket then these crimes will continue to be approved.

Anonymous said...

ahmad, a good advice is to read prior comments before you comment.

The Jordanian parliament does not represent Jordanians. King Abdallah II, with the tacit approval of the USA, banned international monitors and banned local NGOs from supervising elections. By all accounts, the elections were a major fraud. Opposition and international monitors who stood outside voting stations counted 100 going in but the government reported 500 votes from same voting station, as an example. Of course the 400 fabricated votes were in favor of pro King Abdallah II MPs.

If you know anything about the Jordanian constitution, you will know that even in the remote case of an honest election, Parliament is designed in a manner that gives tribal regions 10 times the voting power of Urban Jordanians such as the Amman, Irbid, and Zarqa areas. So the majority of Jordanians are disenfranchised by design even in the case of an honest election.

I find it utterly despicable for King Abdallah and Queen Rania to remain silent in the face of these attacks on the Jordanian people, when the royals know all too well that they bear complete responsibility for the defamation Jordan is enduring because of their honor killing laws and because of some disgustingly pragmatic political equation whereby the King wins the loyalty of powerful tribe, and in return he allows Jordanian women to get butchered and the killers get away with murder.

Farah said...

Just a small comment to add.

I don't think the parliament represents the people at all, but the fact of the matter is that most Jordanians are against amending any honor crime related laws (many polls have shown that), which is why its considered a political risk to even start a discussion about the subject. Meaning true democracy would'nt really change the situation at hand. Any changes will have to be imposed in the beginning.

Anonymous said...

don't see how it's racist to work on a campaign that if effective will result in saving the lives of jordanians. it seems image matters more than substance even if it results in the deaths of 20 or more people each year.

Kat Kit said...

>>> FARAH: most Jordanians are against amending any honor crime related laws (many polls have shown that)

that's a fabrication. where is the link to the independent study? but if we go along with polls, most Jordanians are against corruption and against treaty with Israel and for democracy. yet we have none of those. so what's your point?

>> ANON: it seems image matters more than substance

actually it's quite the opposite. if the so called honor killing campaigners were honest about making a difference, they would turn to the King and demand end to these laws. but all the Kinzi campaign is doing is perpetuating a lie that somehow all we have to do is to shame Jordanians and the laws will change. no matter how many times we tell Kinzi 7 Co. they have to go to the Royal Court to end honor killing laws, they keep shouting at us. how in the world will they save lives by talking to the wrong people? they know it's the king who is behind these morbid laws. but Kinzi & Co. are too close and too friendly to the royal court to be of any use. so Kinzi and Co. are trying to score cheap PR points by avoiding pointing fingers at the King. That's not fighting honor killing laws. That's cheap dishonest opportunism that puts PR and self-interest above victim. We either speak the truth or we shut up.

Farah said...

Kit Kat, my point is changing these laws will be faced with a lot of opposition. In an alghad poll in 2007, 34% of 4000 voters voted against amending honor crimes. True that is not the majority but if 34% of computer-literate, generally informed readers are against that I'm scared to think what the rest of the population would think.

Please do not resort to personal attacks, as this is the last thing we need. We all agree that this honor crimes is a phenomenon that needs to be abolished, so let's focus on that instead of focusing on the differences in opinion, which will get us nowhere. We all need to unite together in opposition to these horrible crimes.

Anonymous said...

Here are the facts that seem to be often ignored in the honor killing debate:

1- Honor killing is a problem not because of the crimes, which happen everywhere in the world under different names. Honor killing is a problem because of the laws that let the male murderer free with a lenient sentence. So the mission is to change the laws.

2- Honor killing in Jordan is not a cultural phenomenon. Less than 20 women were killed, tragically, and their male killers were given short sentences and freed, last year in Jordan. Less than 20 retarded men in a country of 6 million people are not a cultural or national phenomena. But it's a useful political tool for some to keep calling it a phenomena and to keep condemning a whole nation. So if we agree it's a legal problem and not a cultural phenomenon, we should be making calls to the Royal Court and the White House that seems disinterested in linking aid to the King with the abolition of honor killing laws. It is this US aid that protects the King and his powerful tribe. the King answers to the USA not to his people.

3- But if some wish to mobilize and educate, they need to do it in the tribal areas. These are the ultraconservative and progress-resistant voting blocs that have over 70% of the parliamentary seats with less than 30% of Jordan's population. Thanks to Jordan's retarded constitution, blessed by the USA, these tribal voting blocs are responsible for keeping the laws on the book with the King's help.

4- Some say the jordanian parliament is elected by Jordanians, so honor killing laws exist because Jordanians want them. Not true. Ultimately, King Abdallah II is the man who shapes the parliamentary elections and decides the final make up of the Jordanian parliament through unorthodox means that fall short of international standards of transparency and fairness. The King's main political allies are the tribes. They make up most of his security and military establishment. To win their loyalty, the King has refused to cancel honor killing laws which were enacted under his father King Hussain's rein. The tribes want these laws to stay.

5- With all of the above as a backdrop, most Jordanians do not like to be accused of being sympathetic to honor killing since no one asked their opinion when the laws were enacted and they dare not confront the US-backed King and his powerful tribal allies, not just over honor killing laws, but over dozens of problems that keep retarding Jordan's progress into the 21st century.

6- Since the USA approved the rigged Jordanian elections and did not lift a finger to object to the King's ban on international election monitors, the Americans stood silent and allowed a great miscarriage of justice to take place in Jordan, honor killing. It was a rape of Jordanian democracy, or whatever little of it we had, all for the sake of protecting the Israel peace treaty and US military and intelligence presence on Jordanian soil. So women are killed in Jordan because the US does not see the need for a fair and free election at the moment in Jordan.

7- we don't doubt the good intentions of some of the Americans involved in the honor killing campaigns, but American males have killed and brutalized far more Arab women in few years in Iraq than half a century of honor killing in all Arab countries combined. Americans should fix their miss in Iraq and Afghanistan before they give lectures about a phenomena that kills about 15 women in Jordan annually. Compare that with over 300,000 Arab women butchered in Iraq at the hands of American males and other white men.

8- Many of the Jordan-based campaigner against honor killing have close ties to the Royal Court. This is a classic conflict of interest case. To keep their ties intact, they participate in the disinformation by keeping the focus away from the King and Queen and on the Jordanian peopel who can't do anything because of all of the above. Any campaign tactic that ignores the complete monoply the King has over solving honor killing laws is a dishonest campaign. The Jordanian King is the only leaders that is willing to tarnish his pople's reputation internationally to shift the blame away from him. King abdullah II and his father before him helped disgrace Jordan by refusing to cancel honor killing laws all those years, just to keep his tribal allies happy.

Rania said...

Anon...Thank you for this eye-opener. let me see if i can sum it all up. the americans deny arabs democracy by supporting corrupt arab dictatorship who in turn undermine arab women's right along with other rights. then the same Americans talk down to us and lecture us about social problems their dictators caused in the first place. sounds perverse but disturbingly true. the greatest obstacle to arab progress are USA and their sponsored arab dictators.

Kati said...

Anon: I could not agree more with point 8. Rania Husseini for example is the Royal Court's official spokesperson on Honor Killing around the world. She basically is theur best protection against accusations that they stand behind attempt to keep the laws intact. She never points a finger at the king or his Parliament. She goes along with the deception and the royal court's talking points that put the blame on Jordanians. She also gets funding from the RAND corporation, the neocon thinktank that was instrumental in shaping US public opinion in support of the Iraq war. This is the war like you said caused far more harm to Arab women then any social problem in the Arab world and will continue to do so for decades.

For the record every time i tried to post your column on other blogs focusing on honor killing, they reject it. Kinzi's being a prime example. Here is this American girl who should be busy mobilizing Americans to stop brutalizing Muslim women in Iraq and Afghanistan and to provide restitution to the tens of thousand of Arab and Muslim women they continue to brutalize there. But she prefers to play activist in a problem the US has created for Jordan by constantly subverting our chances for democracy.

Farah pointed to a study that shows that only 34% of Jordanians support honor killing. If Jordanian today, fairly and freely, elect a truly representative parliaments that is not rigged, honor killing laws would banish forever. And those 15 or so Jordanian men would now have to keep in the back of their minds that they will spend the rest of their lives behind bars for the crime of murder.

Anonymous said...

the foreign women are probably well intended but they haven't done their homework. if they did they would know that many in the current generation of activists have been coopted with high level government jobs, awards and other unearned rewards bestowed on them from above. they would also know that the regime has a political stake in maintaining the laws as they are. so as has been implied any honest effort must address the sad fact that the two parties are in bed with each other and that's at heart why nothing has changed.

at least one activist had the guts to take it to the king.

kinzi said...

Tara, I never claimed to be a bright American, and I appreciate your soft spot for my simplicity. :)It takes all kinds to make things happen, the bright and the not-so-bright.

In light of my intellectual deficiencies, I do tend to surround myself with people with greater such capacity. I hope you will be one of them.

At your request, I will write a letter to my president and congressman, maybe try to get an editorial in a couple American papers.

KitKat (or Tara, or Mastoo7a, or whoever you are depending on the day or blog, I am sorry for shouting and shaming if that is what is bothering you. I think this is worth making a spectacle of myself over. I was in the middle of three ALMOST honor killings, it isn't a passion I caught from the Jordan Times.

I find the 'Kinzi & Co.' quote pretty funny. I'll have to share it with the other ladies.

Now please, as I have asked you, please take all that righteous indignation and run with it! I do my shouting and simplistic blogging, you do your part with something more culturally effective and appropriate.

I have to thank you, and the others, for not just telling me to 'go home to America'. I really do love your country.