The murder of a teenage girl in the southern province of Suweida, who was shot in the head by her father a few days ago, brought to mind the issue of honor crimes, which over the last few years have spread horribly in Arab societies. Girls at the spring of their lives have become victims of suspicion due to their behavior, emotional involvements or, in the worst cases, due to a moment of recklessness and foolishness.
Statistics from organizations that support women’s rights, confirm that around the world 5,000 people are killed every year, for reasons of honor protection. These crimes are committed mainly against females. Unofficial statistics indicate that their are 200 to 300 honor killings per year in Syria.
Does a girl’s emotional involvement with a young man justify the commission of murder? What are the circumstances behind most of honor crimes committed? What is the nature of honor crimes? Is it a custom, a law, a habit or a tradition?
Social researcher Faten Mohammed told Zaman al-Wasl that "the social environment plays an important and dangerous role in the spread of this type of crime, especially since uneducated men, in general, and rural men in particular, are deeply affected by their environment because they believes that their reputation depends on what people say about them".
She added: “when the girl strays from the ‘rightful path’ traced by society, people start speaking untruthfully about her reputation, which prompts the family to put a stop to what they consider as a shame brought upon them. That’s when the brother, under the pressure of moral scandals, decides to save the renowned honor of his family by shedding the blood of his deviant sister.”
It is noticeable, that “deviant women” are the primary concern of brothers. Husbands are rarely asked to wash off the shame brought upon the family’s honor. Even in cases where the husband overlooks the betrayal of his wife, the brother does not and takes care of killing her himself.
For his part, the lawyer Abdel Moneim Radwan asserts that 75% of honor crimes are committed by the brothers of the victims, whether the victim is a cheating wife or a daughter who deviates from proper behavior. He notes that the father usually comes second when it comes to washing the family of disgrace, followed by the uncle and the cousin and finally the lowest percentage goes to the son of the victim. It is equally noticeable that more than 80% of the perpetrators of honor crimes are illiterate people who cannot read or write. According to Radwan, this phenomenon can be explained by the family’s decision to make the youngest family member commit the crime since they don’t have an income and they can benefit of the mitigation factor of being of young age.
Our correspondent pointed out that Syrian law has some of the most tolerant and lenient laws when dealing with the perpetrators of these kinds of crimes, when compared to the majority of other the Arab countries. The Syrian Penal Code was organized under the title "Crimes and Misdemeanors on the Life and Safety of Man", specifically section four under the title "excusing murder and victimization" Article 548, in addition to Article 192 on the motive of honor.
Sheikh Haitham Mansour links honor crimes in Arab societies to the phenomenon of domestic violence that has emerged. It has also emerged due to the weakness of faith in God Almighty which causes, as he puts it: "a deviation from the straight path and the virtue of Islamic law that God ordered us to follow.”
This article was edited by The Syrian Observer. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.