Muslims commit 91 percent of honor killings worldwide. A manual of Islamic law certified as a reliable guide to Sunni orthodoxy by Al-Azhar, 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.”
Until the encouragement Islamic law gives to honor killing is acknowledged and confronted, more women will suffer.
“44 women killed in the name of ‘honour’ in Swat,” Express Tribune, October 19, 2017:
SWAT: Swat has witnessed the murder of 44 women in the name of “honour” during the current year, many of which have been concealed under the name of suicide, non-government organisation Awakening has revealed in a study.
Speaking with Pakistan Today, the NGO’s director Irfan Hussain Babak said that the rate at which “honour killings” were being carried out this year had increased sharply from last year. The year 2016 had seen 53 cases of honour killings in Swat. The NGO, which works for women’s rights in Swat and provides legal aid to families of the victims, has revealed that a lot of these cases are disguised as suicides.
Swat police have denied the reliability of these reports. Figures taken by Mingora superintendent of police (SP) claim that there had been 11 instances of honour killings this year, while there had been 6 cases in 2016.
Mingora Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) Habibullah told Pakistan Today that Swat police were working hard to tackle the issue of honour killings in the district. He said that cases of honour killings would be filed by the state now, expressing his hopes that this would deter the evil practice and bring the perpetrators of the crime to justice. According to the police, three cases have been filed by the state and are all under hearing at court.
The police said that members of the victims’ families were usually involved in honour killings and to prevent themselves from disgrace, the other aggrieved family members did not bring the cases to the police, preferring the local jirgas to resolve the matter instead. If the police did make arrests, people did not appear before court to testify. This allowed criminals to escape readily from punishment, they said.
Swat bar senior lawyer Sohail Sultan observed that Swat came under the provincially administered tribal areas and therefore many laws which safeguarded women’s rights had not been extended to the area, which was a direct cause of the growing number of honour killings in Swat.
According to the Swat’s women jirga head Tabassum Adnan, the main reason for the rise of honour killings in Swat was the lack of effective legislation, which allowed criminals to run free without fear of punishment….