x Abu Dhabi, UAE Friday 21 July 2017

Half of Jordan teenage boys think 'honour killings' justified: study

The study by researchers from Cambridge University's Institute of Criminology found that almost half of boys and one in five girls interviewed in Amman believe that killing a daughter, sister or wife who has "dishonoured" or shamed the family is justified.

AMMAN // Belief that so-called honour killings are justified is still common among Jordanian teenagers, a Cambridge University study revealed today.

The study by researchers from the university's Institute of Criminology found that almost half of boys and one in five girls interviewed in Amman believe that killing a daughter, sister or wife who has "dishonoured" or shamed the family is justified.

"Researchers surveyed over 850 students, and found that attitudes in support of honour killing are far more likely in adolescent boys with low education backgrounds," a statement said, adding that the research is published in the criminology journal Aggressive Behavior.

"Importantly, the study found that these disturbing attitudes were not connected to religious beliefs."

Between 15 and 20 women die in so-called "honour" murders each year in Jordan, despite government efforts to curb such crimes.

The main factors behind these crimes "include patriarchal and traditional world views, emphasis placed on female virtue and a more general belief that violence against others is morally justified," according to the study.

"We noted substantial minorities of girls, well-educated and even irreligious teenagers who consider honour killing morally right, suggesting a persisting society-wide support for the tradition," said Professor Manuel Eisner, who led the study with graduate student Lana Ghuneim.

In all, 33.4 per cent of all respondents either "agreed" or "strongly agreed" with situations depicting honour killings.

"Boys were more than twice as likely to support honour killings: 46.1 per cent of boys and 22.1 per cent of girls agreed with at least two honour killing situations in the questionnaire."

Sixty-one per cent of teenagers from the lowest level of educational background showed supportive attitudes towards "honour killing", as opposed to only 21.1 per cent where at least one family member has a university degree, said the study.

And 41.5 per cent of teenagers with a large number of siblings endorsed at least two "honour-killing situations", while this was only the case for 26.7 per cent of teenagers from smaller families.

"While stricter legislation has been introduced — despite conservative fears — cultural support for violence against women who are seen as breaking norms has remained widespread," it added.

Murder is punishable by death in Jordan, but in "honour killings" courts can commute or reduce sentences, particularly if the victim's family asks for leniency.