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.
A Pakistani man and his father have been arrested in the country’s latest so-called “honor killing” after they set the son’s wife alight for leaving the house without asking his permission, police said Sunday.
Muhammad Siddique became enraged on learning that his wife, Shabana Bibi, 25, had visited her sister without first asking him if she could go out, her brother Muhammad Azam said.
Siddique and his father then beat Bibi before dousing her with petrol and setting her on fire in Central Pakistan’s Muzaffargarh district on Friday, Azam said.
Bibi had been married to Siddique for three years, during which time she had suffered repeated domestic abuse for the couple’s inability to have children, Azam said.
Suffering burns to 80 percent of her body, Bibi died of her injuries in hospital on Saturday.
“We have arrested the husband and father-in-law of the deceased woman and charged them for murder and terrorism,” district police chief Rai Zameer-ul-Haq told AFP. The charge of “terrorism” is regularly applied in such cases so as to expedite the legal process.
Hundreds of women are murdered by their relatives in Pakistan each year through domestic violence or on the grounds of defending family “honor”.
The Aurat Foundation, a campaign group that works to improve the lives of women in Pakistan’s conservative and patriarchal society, says more than 3,000 women have been killed in such attacks since 2008.