x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Spree of honour killings in Jordan

Women's activists in Jordan say they will step up their fight against so-called honour crimes after two women were killed on the same day.

AMMAN // Women's activists in Jordan said they would step up their fight against so-called honour crimes after two women were killed on the same day, and a man jailed for shooting his raped sister had his sentence halved. On Thursday, a 20-year-old man stabbed his older sister several times with a kitchen knife and then smashed her head with a rock, an official and reports said.

A criminal prosecutor working on the case said an autopsy was being carried out but the brother had confessed and had been taken into custody. According to the prosecutor, who wished to remain anonymous because he was not authorised to talk to the press, the woman had spent the last three months in Juwaidah prison for women fearing her life was in danger. "She had been living in difficult circumstances. Her parents separated 18 years ago. She had family problems and she stayed with her grandparents at her uncle's house."

But reports said the woman, a mother of one, had "disappeared" from her house a month ago and that police had found her with a man in an apartment and had taken her into custody. The brother was called to collect her on Thursday, the prosecutor said, and they returned to the family home in an eastern Amman suburb. "The brother went out for food and when he returned home, he said he found his sister at the door talking to a man," the prosecutor said.

The brother confessed that he became enraged and stabbed her, according to the prosecutor. Just hours earlier, a 34-year-old woman was stabbed to death 15 times by her younger brother in the Jordan Valley, Ehssan Salamat, the lead criminal prosecutor in Amman, said. Police told Agence France-Presse the man believed his sister was having an affair and was four weeks pregant. "An investigation is under way and we are examining the samples," Mr Salamat told The National.

Thursday's deaths bring the number of women killed in the name of honour this year to 13. Last year, there were 17 such deaths. Women's activists have renewed their calls on parliament to tighten penalties for these crimes. Jordanian laws are often lenient towards men convicted of honour crimes. On Tuesday, a court in Amman halved the jail term of a man who shot dead his raped sister "in the name of honour".

Women's activists decried it as a step backwards. "In the past few years, the number of honour crimes had fallen and it was a positive indicator. We thought we were moving ahead particularly because some of the sentences were tougher than usual," said Enaam Asha, the director of the programmes at the Sisterhood Is Global Institute/Jordan, a non-governmental organisation set up in 1998 to promote women's rights.

"But having such crimes - and not only the recent ones - carried out consecutively is a dangerous indicator," she said. Ms Asha said that the number of honour crimes in the first two to three months was the same as the first eight months of last year. "This is a message that we to need to intensify our efforts." smaayeh@thenational.ae