Honor Killings: Justified?
By Fatima Salim Khawaja

January 8, 2009
Honor killings took the lives of 888 women in the single province of Punjab in 1998.

In 2002, 461 women were murdered in Pakistan for immoral behavior ranging from being raped to cooking poorly.

In Jordan published figures state that one woman a week is killed for losing her chastity whether she is a victim of rape or rumor.

These are all horrific tales of females getting slain by their male relatives for the sake of the family “Honor” and respect, most often heard from countries like Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Palestine, Egypt, Bangladesh, Jordan, India, Kurdish-Turkey, Syria, and other Arab nations. And what is the common link between all these states? Islam. And that is exactly what the Western World targets when it comes to investigating these crimes against humanity.

However, what most of the people fail to see is that Islam has got nil to do with these malicious activities. Nowhere in the correct scriptures would one find any shred of evidence that would link the Deen to the crime, or even condone it.
Indeed, there’s no question about the fact that Islam does propose the death penalty by stoning in case of Adultery, but that is also only applicable if there were four witnesses to the actual act of the intercourse, which makes the accusation nearly impossible to make. And even in that case, the penalty for the woman is no different, or any harsher, for that of the man. Of-course, the law changes when a man charges his wife of cheating on him, or vice-versa. In that case no witnesses are required, and a divorce is called for. No blood-shed in the process.

Similar is the case for “Zina”, which is sexual intercourse between two unmarried persons. For that, the penalty is 100 lashes each; no more, no less. Again, four witnesses to act would be required

Hence, as clearly seen, there is no relation between Islam and Honor Killings evident anywhere. We need to realize that this practice is purely Traditional and Cultural in nature, and that it goes far beyond even before the advent of Islam in the regions.
Men have always been doubtful of their women’s loyalty. Whether it was “Chastity Belts” in the medieval times of the Western world, or the practice to burying one’s daughter during infancy in the Eastern and Arab regions to completely eliminate the threat- the blame is solely on human nature, and our old norms and beliefs. Just like the use of Chastity belts still continues in some parts of the globe, likewise, the practice of Honor Killings still persists when a man deems that a woman under “his control” will lead him into being shamed in the society.

It’s upsetting to see how these going-ons have been so cleverly camouflaged and integrated with Islam so that men can have their actions justified on the moral basis. And it’s even more upsetting to see how these justifications have found their way into the legal systems of countries like Argentina, Ecuador, Egypt, Guatemala, Iran, Kurdish Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Peru, Syria, Venezuela and the Palestinian National Authority where it is not unlawful for a man to kill his daughter, wife, mother, or sister if he claims he suspected them of immoral doings.

In order for these fallacies to be removed from the minds of all- Western, Eastern, and Arab- there needs to be more widespread awareness and education about the true nature of Islam; its teachings, law and beliefs. And such programs will also help remove other grave and severe misconceptions the Occidentals have about the religion, especially on matters of Jihad and Terrorism.

As for dealing with the problem of the killings themselves, some believe on insistence upon a strict application of traditional law, under which only the public authority is empowered to punish illegitimate sexual intercourse, and then only with indisputable proof of wrongdoing. However, great heed and vigilance must be taken if treading upon this path, for history proves that all people are very sentimental and poignant when their long-practiced customs and rituals are questioned by an outsider.


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