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. In this case, of course, the victim was the murderer’s wife, a victim to the culture of violence and intimidation that such laws help create.
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.”
Until the encouragement Islamic gives to honor killing is acknowledged and confronted, more women will suffer.
“Shot twice, stuffed in a sack and dumped in a canal… but Pakistani girl, 18, SURVIVES botched ‘honor killing’ carried out by her own family for marrying the man she loved,” by Damien Gayle, Daily Mail, June 5, 2014 (thanks to all who sent this in):
A teenager survived being shot twice and thrown in a canal by her family for marrying the man she loved, police in Pakistan said.
Saba Maqsood was attacked by her father, uncle, brother and aunt before she was tossed into the canal, said Ali Akbar, a spokesman for police in Hafizabad, Punjab province.
It comes just a week-and-a-half after the broad daylight ‘honour killing’ of another woman in a city centre drew worldwide condemnation.
Mr Akbar told Reuters that the most recent case was also ‘an honour-related incident’.
‘The victim, Saba … married her neighbour Muhammad Qaiser for love five days ago against the wishes of her family,’ he said.
‘They took her to Hafizabad, shot her twice and threw her in the canal after putting her in a sack, presuming that she was dead.’
Mr Akbar said Ms Maqsood was wounded in her cheek and her right hand. Her relatives fled the scene, he said, and after minutes in the water she regained consciousness and struggled to the bank, where passers-by helped her.
‘She is a brave girl. She came out of the canal and approached a nearby fuel station from where a rescue team rushed her to hospital,’ he said.
Many conservative Pakistani families believe it is dishonourable for a woman to fall in love and choose her own husband. Women from such families are expected to agree to arranged marriages. Refusal can lead to honour killings.
Last month a Pakistani woman called Farzana Iqbal was attacked and killed by suspected family members because she had married the man she loved.
The case drew intense global attention, including condemnation from the United Nations, in part because it the killing was so brazen. It happened in the centre of the city of Lahore, Pakistan’s cultural capital.
But many other incidents remain unreported. In 2013, 869 such cases were reported in the media, according to the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, but the true figure is believed to be higher.
Mr Akbar said he had recorded a statement from Ms Maqsood in which she blamed her family for the attack.
‘I was tortured and shot by my father Maqsood Ahmad, brother Faisal Maqsood, uncle Ashfaq Ahmad and his wife Sajida Bibi,’ he quoted her as saying.
Mr Akbar added: ‘Her condition is out of danger and we have registered a case against her family on her complaint.’
Police had raided her father’s home in the nearby city of Gujranwala but all the suspects had disappeared, he said.