Muslims commit 91 percent of honor killings worldwide. A manual of Islamic law certified as a reliable guide to Sunni orthodoxy by Al-Azhar University, the most respected authority in Sunni Islam, says that “retaliation is obligatory against anyone who kills a human being purely intentionally and without right.” However, “not subject to retaliation” is “a father or mother (or their fathers or mothers) for killing their offspring, or offspring’s offspring.” (‘Umdat al-Salik o1.1-2). In other words, someone who kills his child incurs no legal penalty under Islamic law.
The Palestinian Authority gives pardons or suspended sentences for honor murders. Iraqi women have asked for tougher sentences for Islamic honor murderers, who get off lightly now. Syria in 2009 scrapped a law limiting the length of sentences for honor killings, but “the new law says a man can still benefit from extenuating circumstances in crimes of passion or honour ‘provided he serves a prison term of no less than two years in the case of killing.'” And in 2003 the Jordanian Parliament voted down on Islamic grounds a provision designed to stiffen penalties for honor killings. Al-Jazeera reported that “Islamists and conservatives said the laws violated religious traditions and would destroy families and values.”
In light of all this, until authorities get the courage to tell the truth about honor killing and deal with its root causes, there will be many more such murders.
A 30-year-old woman and two of her children were beheaded overnight in Afghanistan’s east, police said, in what appeared to be the latest in a rapidly growing trend of so-called honor killings.
Police said they suspected the woman Serata’s divorced husband of barging into her house in the capital of Ghazni province and murdering her, alongside their eight-year-old son and nine-year-old daughter.
“The children saw the killer take their mother’s head off, so he killed them too,” a local policeman told Reuters, adding that the attacker had spared Sereta’s two-year-old daughter.
Activists say there has been a sharp rise in violent attacks on women in Afghanistan over the past year.
They blame President Hamid Karzai’s waning attention to women’s rights as his government prepares for the exit of most foreign troops in 2014 and seeks to negotiate with the Taliban, Afghanistan’s former Islamist rulers.
Excluding Serata’s beheading, there have been 16 cases of “honor killings” recorded across the country over March and April, the first two months of the Afghan new year, according toAfghanistan’s Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC).
This compares to the 20 cases recorded for all of last year, said commissioner Suraya Subhrang, blaming increased insecurity and weak rule of law for the sharp rise. Since AIHRC started recording such killings in 2001, there have never been more than 20 cases a year.
“And there are many that go unreported. Men make a quick decision in their own courts to kill a girl and hold a prayer for her the next day,” Subhrang told Reuters.
Serata divorced her husband Mohammad Arif, 38, a year ago after enduring almost a decade of domestic abuse, said Shukria Wali, head of Ghazni’s department of women’s affairs, which is attached to the ministry in Kabul.
Police said they were still hunting for Arif. Violent crimes against women often go unpunished in Afghanistan, with activists blaming police carelessness, corruption and a growing atmosphere of impunity.
Officers investigating the case described it as an honor killing – a phrase used to describe the murder of mostly women and girls by people who accuse them of besmirching a family’s reputation….
Donors are expected to commit just under $4 billion in development aid annually to Afghanistan at a summit in Tokyo on Sunday, though the European Union – the biggest contributor – has said maintaining its support will be difficult if women’s rights are not protected….
But they will give the money anyway.
Despite more than 10 years of war and billions of dollars in foreign aid, the country remains desperately poor. Female illiteracy rates in rural areas are above 90 percent and child marriages are still widespread despite being illegal.