Syria has 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.'” Wow — two years for murder! You can serve more time than that for serial double parking.
Why is the penalty so light for honor killings in majority-Muslim Syria? After all, we are constantly told in the West that honor killing has nothing to do with Islam. So why can’t Islamic clerics agitate for stiffer penalties for honor killings? Well, because they are on the other side: a manual of Islamic law certified by Al-Azhar as a reliable guide to Sunni orthodoxy 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. In accord with this, 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.”
Syria has scrapped a law limiting the length of sentences handed down to men convicted of killing female relatives they suspect of having illicit sex.
Women’s groups had long demanded that Article 548 be scrapped, arguing it decriminalised “honour” killings.
Activists say some 200 women are killed each year in honour cases by men who expect lenient treatment under the law.
The new law replaces the existing maximum sentence of one year in jail with a minimum jail term of two years.
Justice Minister Ahmad Hamoud Younis said the change was made by the decree of President Bashar al-Assad, following a recent increase in “wife-killings… on the pretext of adultery”.
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”.
The legislation covers any man who “unintentionally” kills his wife, sister, daughter or mother after catching her committing adultery or having unlawful sex. It also covers cases where the woman’s lover is killed.
Reports say women’s rights activists have given a cautious welcome to the change, with one group calling it a “small contribution to solving the problem”….