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. In this case the victim was the murderer’s sister, 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 law gives to honor killing is acknowledged and confronted, more women will suffer.
A teenage girl was reportedly murdered by her relatives allegedly on the orders of a tribal jirga in Khyber Agency on Friday, in what the local political administration said was a case of ‘honour’ killing.
The jirga had issued the orders to kill 13-year-old Naghma after it emerged that she had allegedly attempted to run away with two young men, an official said.
After she allegedly ran away with them, the boys abandoned Naghma during the journey “out of fear”. She was later taken into custody by the security forces and released on bail upon assurance by the girl’s relatives that they would not kill her, Assistant Political Agent Niaz Mohammad told local reporters.
However, despite their assurances, Naghma’s relatives shot her dead three days later inside a house in Landi Kotal tehsil and silently buried her body in a local graveyard….
Meanwhile, a journalist belonging to Khyber Agency claimed that the two boys who allegedly ran away with the girl are in the custody of the same jirga. He claimed that the boys’ relatives will make every effort to secure their freedom, but it is possible that they too will be killed on the jirga’s orders….
Hundreds of women are murdered every year in Pakistan, often by their own relatives, for going against their families’ wishes in matters of love and marriage.
The perpetrators of so-called honour killings often walk free because they can seek forgiveness for the crime from another family member.
The Aurat Foundation’s annual report of 2016 showed 7,852 cases of violence against women.
According to Saima Munir, who works for the Aurat Foundation, there has been a 70 per cent increase in honour killings in the past year.