B2 High-Intermediate US 24482 Folder Collection
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In February 2016,
the Pakistan government promised to amend their laws around honor killings.
This comes on the heels of the 2016 Academy Award winning short documentary,
"A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness."
The film tells the story of a Pakistani woman
who was badly beaten, shot in the head and left in a river to die
all because she married a man whom her father and uncle didn't approve.
In fact, the UN has estimated that
as many as five thousand honor killings like this occur every year
So what exactly are honor killings?
An honor killing is the murder of one family member by another,
due to a perceived shameful act by the victim upon their family or community.
They are predominantly carried out in honor based societies,
which define a person's standing by their integrity in the eyes of the community.
Those with honor are generally viewed as good, while those without are shamed.
In these societies,
women are believed to dishonor their families through immoral, often sexual, behavior.
Because a woman is generally understood as a man’s property,
their betrayal strips away their honor, and can be punishable by death.
Honor killings can happen as the result of
a woman seeking escape from an arranged marriage, or having an extramarital affair,
but they can also stem from actions as basic as
dating someone not accepted by a family or wearing western clothing.
Some women have even been killed after being victim to a sexual assault or rape.
In 2015, a Syrian woman was brutally murdered, allegedly by her father and brothers,
after she was gang raped.
The woman had fled Syria two years earlier, for fear that her family would see her as "unclean."
Honor killings were prominent in ancient Rome, where the male head of the family
could murder sexually active daughters and adulterous wives.
This idea carried into the Ottoman Empire,
where men who were found guilty of killing their wives were exempt from responsibility
or given reduced sentences.
Ottoman men were even known to publicly boast about the act as a way to increase their honor.
Interestingly, this idea was borrowed from an almost identical
19th century French penal code, which remained on the books until 1975.
Today, honor killings are usually associated with countries in the Middle East and North
Africa, but the horrific practice still occurs in other parts of the world, including India,
Europe, Latin America and the U.S.
Despite its prevalence in Islamic regions,
honor killings are never mentioned in the Quran or Hadith.
And religious authorities, like Ayatollah Khamenei of Iran, have publicly denounced the practice.
But in countries like Jordan and Iraq the legal system tacitly approves of honor killings,
as murder sentences are reduced
if the victim was deemed to have brought dishonor to their family.
In fact, perpetrators in Jordan
reportedly serve no more than six months behind bars for the crime.
The Queen of Jordan has repeatedly spoken out against honor killings,
however the country's parliament has resisted closing up loopholes
that allow killers to get off with little or no punishment.
But government negligence is only part of the problem.
The larger issue is the subordinate role women play in society.
According to a 2013 study, nearly half of Jordanian boys
and 20 percent of girls believe that killing a woman in the name of honor is justifiable.
Religious and political leaders in countries like Pakistan and Jordan are pushing measures
that would further criminalize honor killings.
However, the heinous acts are likely to continue until broad societal norms also give way.
Westerners have a lot of misconceptions about the Muslim world, and the women in it.
Find out what some of them are by watching this video up top.
Or to learn about some of the most women-friendly Muslim countries, watch this video below.
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What Are Honor Killings?

24482 Folder Collection
劉宜佳 published on September 15, 2017    劉宜佳 translated    Kristi Yang reviewed
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