[violence] honour crimes

The fast-track trial of a Moroccan immigrant accused of stabbing his 18-year-old daughter to death last year in an 'honour' killing opened in the northeastern Italian town of Pordenone on Monday. El Ketaoui Dafani, a cook, allegedly became enraged after discovering his daughter Sanaa had a love affair with a 32-year-old Italian man. Sanaa Dafani was stabbed in the throat in September with a large kitchen knife while she was sitting in a car with her 31-year-old boyfriend in the small town of Montereale Valcellina, northwest of Trieste.

Almost seven years after Naila Farhat, 20, became another victim of an acid throwing attack by a spurned suitor, she is finally seeing more vigorous efforts toward the passage of a law seeking to amend existing legislation to reinforce protection of women against violent assaults. Farhat is the first to admit, though, that beneath her physical scars is a smoldering anger that refuses to be pacified until she has exacted vengeance against her violators. 

At a landmark conference held recently in Ramallah in the occupied Palestinian territory, delegates were told of documented cases of “honour” crimes where women and girls had been poisoned, strangled, shot and forced to commit suicide by arelatives because their alleged behaviours had tarnished the family “honour”. These behaviours included talking on the phone with a man, being late or the mere rumour or supposition that an illicit behaviour may have happened.

Last week, three Pakistani sisters, age 20, 16, and 14, had their lives irrevocably changed. As they walked from Kalat city to Pandarani village in the Baluchistan province, two motorcyclists threw acid on them, causing severe burns over their faces and bodies. Two weeks earlier, two sisters in the same province suffered the same attack—and they are only 11 and 13 years old. Their crimes? Not wearing hijabs and traveling unaccompanied by men. The Baloch Ghaeratmand Group, which was until recently unknown in the province, circulated a pamphlet in April that warned, “Acid will be thrown on the faces of women and girls who step out of their houses without covering their faces… People who fail to comply with these orders will themselves be responsible for the consequences.” 

ما تزال الحكومة السورية تدعم قتل النساء السوريات بحفاظها على المادة 192 من قانون العقوبات السوري التي تتيح لأي كان أن يقتل ابنته أو زوجته أو أخته أو أمه مدعيا أنه فعل ذلك "دفاعا عن الشرف"! ليحظى بوسام كبطل عبر إعفاء من العقوبة أو ما يشبه الإعفاء منها! مثلما حدث مع قتلة كل من هدى أبو عسلي، زهرة عزو، والمئات من النساء السوريات اللواتي يقتلن سنويا بهذه الذريعة!

In her recent article 'To Specify or Single Out' in the Muslim World Journal of Human Rights, WLUML networker Rochelle L. Terman asks 'Should We Use the Term “Honor Killing”? The use of the term ‘honor killing’ has elicited strong reactions from a variety of groups for years; but the recent Aqsa Parvez and Aasiya Hassan cases have brought a renewed interest from women’s rights activists, community leaders, and law enforcement to study the term and come to a consensus on its validity and usefulness, particularly in the North American and European Diaspora. While some aver that the term ‘honor killing’ is an appropriate description of a unique and particular crime, others deem it as rather a racist and misleading phrase used to promote violent stereotypes of particular communities, particularly Muslim minorities in North America and Europe.

On March 3rd, a panel discussion on violence against women and girls justified in the name of culture was held by the Global Campaign to Stop Killing and Stoning women (SKSW Campaign) during the 54th Session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW).The aim of the event was to present an overview of the diverse contexts the Campaign is active in, focusing on the frontline work of our partners in their local contexts, and to expand the Campaign’s outreach through the distribution of Campaign materials and networking.

The Urdu expression `chaddar aur chardawari’ is often quoted in Pakistan to suggest that women are safest under their shawl (`chaddar’) and within the four walls (`chardawari’) of their home. This may hold true for many women, but for some, such as 25-year-old Naseeba Bibi, it could not be further from the truth. Naseeba said she had suffered continual abuse from her husband since they got married six years ago in Kasur, about 55km southeast of Lahore, Punjab Province.

Statement by Organisation of Women’s Freedom in Iraq-Abroad Representative:  According to official sources at Ninawa Criminal Court, the four people charged with the stoning of Du'a Khalil Aswad on 7 April 2007 have been sentenced to death. The decision was made on 27 March, just three weeks before the third anniversary of Du'as murder. It is reported that two of the convicted men are Du'a's brothers. Du'a was stoned to death in front of almost 2,000 men; with Iraqi police maintaining "law and order" while the stoning took place. The authorities knew about the atrocity, but did not prevent it.

Thirteen women are murdered in "honour killings" by their own relatives every day, according to Rana Husseini, a human rights advocate and journalist who has devoted her career to fighting the barbaric and widespread practice. "I'm documenting the cases of women, their stories, the fact that they lived on this earth and that someone deprived them the right to live," Husseini told IPS. An honour killing occurs when a family feels that their female relative has tarnished their reputation, according to Husseini, author of the recently released book "Murder in the Name of Honor".