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.
“Pakistani family slaughtered in honor killing,” Associated Press, December 10, 2014:
ISLAMABAD (AP) — Pakistani police Wednesday were looking for four men believed to have killed a couple and their four children as retribution for a perceived “honor crime.”
Police officer Mohammed Aslam said the killings happened Tuesday in the town of Athara Hazari in central Pakistan.
Aslam said the men are believed to have hacked the family to death with axes and knives. One daughter, identified by police as Aisha, survived and relayed what happened to authorities. She and the other bodies were found after a man delivering milk to the house noticed that no one was coming to the door, Aslam said.
Aisha told authorities the killings stemmed from her mother’s first marriage nearly 30 years ago to another man, Aslam said.
Another police officer, Mian Mohammad, said Ghulam Fatima’s son from her first marriage visited the family a few days ago. He was joined on Tuesday by three more men, who the police say helped him with the crime.
The surviving daughter told authorities that the son said he was taking revenge on her for leaving her first husband.
“It is an incident of honor killing,” said Mohammad.
In Pakistan, leaving one’s husband or marrying against a family’s wishes is extremely rare. Such actions are often perceived as crimes against the family’s honor and the woman can be killed in order to restore the family’s reputation.
Such retribution can be carried out years, even decades later. The killings are rarely prosecuted.