Why are Honour Killings more in Islamic countries?

When a malevolent observance is legally approbated by the religious scriptures and law, it’s the end of humanitarianism. Islam is the fastest growing religion across the globe and is prognosticated to overtake Christianity in another 4-5 decades. Hence the exigency to address the complicated issues of Islam is the need of the time. While the world is addressing the need to eradicate the unfair and discriminatory Islamic Practice of Triple Talaq, there is another inhuman practice in Islam against women that needs to be expunged too …. ‘Honour Killings’.

A recent ‘Honour Killing’ of a 21year old Israa Ghrayeb created an uproar among Palestine women to raise their voice against the deep-rooted patriarchal system in Islam. The severity of this evil practice is blindfolded as most of these killings are passed as suicides or accidental deaths. In Israa’s case too, the reason of death was cited as a stroke while her cries were heard by the entire hospital when Israa’s family was beating her to death. Her crime was that she had gone out to dinner with her fiancée and his sister with the permission from her parents and posted a video of their dining on social media.

The ill-practice of honour killing is a family collaboration wherein a girl/woman is murdered by their families because of supposedly disgraceful acts perceived to have brought public shame. The following are some of the acts or behaviors by a Muslim woman or girl that can make her a target for Honor Killing. The allegation could be just a gossip, arbitrary thing or a suspicion.

  • Speaking with an unrelated man.
  • An extra-marital affair.
  • Refusal to a forced marriage.
  • Marrying according to personal choice.
  • Becoming a victim of rape.
  • A rumour regarding pre-marital loss of virginity.
  • A woman who desires to leave her abusive husband.
  • A woman who bridge religious divides by engaging socially with other communities.

Here is the reason why Honour Killings in Muslims are on the rise. Islamic Sharia Law which is partially or fully in practice in many countries grants Legality to the Honour Killings. The Article 340 of the Jordanian Penal Code states, “He who catches his wife, or one of his female un-lawfully committing adultery with another, and he kills, wounds, or injures both of them, is excused and benefits from an exemption from penalty.”

As per the Pakistani Penal Code that was amended in 1990 to embrace Islamic Principles, the heir of any murder victim could forgive the killer and stop the prosecution. As all the honour killings are conducted by the family members, the laws are open for them to conspire to kill someone, forgive and forget! There are thousands of reported honour killings every year in Pakistan alone. The accused ‘throw’ Islam and Quran on the faces of Judges. So, the convicts are spared with the light sentence of one year jail term or no jail term at all.

In fact, in Islamic countries such as Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Jordan, Syria, Libya, Kuwait, Yemen, Lebanon, Egypt, Sudan, the Gaza Strip, Tunisia, Pakistan, Nigeria and Somalia, little or no action is taken against the criminals of honour killings.

19 year old Zarsheed shot his mother because the elders advised him to do so. His mother’s constant trips to the market had become a topic for gossip in the village. Shamim, a mother of four was killed in her bed because her husband’s brothers accused her of adultery. Two of her killers were Policemen. Samia Shahid, from Bradford, England, who had divorced her husband and married a man of her choice, was called by her family to Pakistan on the pretext to visit the ailing father. After her arrival, on 20th July, 2016, she was strangled to death. What’s more horrendous is that the woman was raped by the family before the honour killing!

Two years back, Maldivian model and medical student, Raudha Athif aged 20 was allegedly killed by Bangladeshi Extremists for wearing western clothes. In 2017, the honour killing of the Pakistani model/ actress Qandeel Baloch by her own brother made quite big news. She had brought ‘dishonour’ on the family by uploading ‘obscene’ videos.

It is still understandable about Islamic countries embracing the vices of Sharia. But could you digest the fact that even United Kingdom allows Sharia Courts to sanction the Honour Killings? Sharia Court in the UK ordered a young woman to return to her abusive, rapist husband. The fact is that the Muslim Immigrants in UK have overrun the place and are exhibiting the medieval brutal mentality inspired by Sharia. Hence, Britain is accommodating the practice of Sharia to override its own constitution and principles of human rights!

It’s about time, the world unites against Islamist Sharia advocators and stand with victimised Muslim women across the globe. May the world never see another Israa!

Jyothi Suparna Chincholi