Honor Killings of Women Brought to Light

October 13, 2009

Jordanian journalist Rana Husseini’s new book examines the charged issue of honor killings of women that occur in Jordan, Syria, Pakistan, and other countries. Murder in the Name of Honor chronicles many years of careful research and reporting carried out by Ms Husseini, who writes for the English-language Jordan Times, and has won numerous awards, including the Reebok Human Rights Award.

Honor killings of women and girls are carried out by their male relatives in order to restore the honor of the family due to a woman’s perceived unchaste behavior. The issue is understandably highly sensitive, and until the intrepid and tireless reporting on the subject by Ms Husseini, the subject was not discussed openly. Largely because of Ms Husseini, the issue of honor killings has become a matter of public debate in Jordan. While the Jordanian royal family has long advocated for changes to laws that provide for lenient sentences for those convicted of honor killings, resistance to change has been persistent among certain sectors of society, who believe that toughening the penalties for those committing honor killings would somehow send a signal that unchaste behavior is acceptable. Amnesty International has campaigned to end the tolerance of honor killings in countries such as Jordan and has called for amendments to laws that allow these human rights violations to continue.

Amnesty International reported that there were at least 16 incidents of honor killings in Jordan in 2008. In March 2008 a man who had killed his married sister in 2007 was sentenced to just three months in prison. He murdered her because of her supposedly “immoral behavior” which included leaving home without her husband’s permission and speaking to other men on her mobile phone.

Ms Husseini will be on a tour of the United States over the next month to promote her book. She will be speaking at a number of public events including:

San Francisco on October 14 at 7 pm at the Modern Times Bookstore, 888 Valencia Street.

She will be speaking and signing her book in Chicago on October 19 at 7 pm at the Book Cellar, 4736 N. Lincoln Avenue at an event sponsored by Amnesty International USA and the National Organization for Women. She will be introduced by Rafia Zakaria, a member of Amnesty International’s Board of Directors and an expert on women and Islamic Law.

New York on October 21 at 7 pm at Bluestockings Bookstore 172 Allen Street.

Washington DC on October 27 at 6:00 pm at Busboys and Poets Bookstore, 2021 14th Street.