A heartbreaking, tough and not easy reading about one of the most sensitive topics in our society, this book comes as a candle that has to be lighted instead of just cursing the darkness.
The author, Rana Husseini, who is a famous journalist and activist in Jordan, wrote this remarkable book, Murder in the Name of Honour, to document the movement in Jordan and other countries in regards to ‘Honour Crimes’. The book is based on real stories that the author researched, collected and followed up for a long time to reflect the real situation, so we can have an idea on what could be considered as a honour crime, how does the killer think and how does the society deal with such a topic.
In honour crimes, women can be killed by one of her family members because she had been engaged in a dishnour situation. Our problem is with what could be considered as a dishnour situation. She can be killed because she has been raped, leaving her family home without permission or even because of Facebook.
I read the book when it was released in 2009. At that time, I was shocked by the details and the depressed articles and laws that allow for such a tragedy to continue. The ugliness of those crimes definitely forces you to think what is the exact meaning of humanity.
The author believes that the more we shed light on such crimes and the more we put these stories in journalism, the better a difference we can make to help many women from being killed. These crimes were not only in Jordan. She discussed crimes in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Brazil, Ecuador, Egypt, Palestine, India, Iraq, Pakistan, Morocco, Turkey, Yemen and Uganda, in addition to some incidents that were reported in Europe; Germany, France and the United Kingdom.
Recently and after the successful move that Jordan made in this area, I read the book again for which I believe it’s still a great resource to understand this topic. This year, and after ages of campaigning, Jordan made a great step by eliminating article 308 which protected the rapists from punishment if they married their victims.
Rana was very smart in helping us to understand the wider aspect of this topic. She discussed the different laws and acts in this area, listed stories for the victims and even interviewed some of the killers. Personally, I believe that even the killer is a victim of the society. In one of her interviews with a killer, who killed his sister with the support of his uncles and his mother because she was being raped by one of her brothers, and received a lenient sentence for seven and a half years, he said “society imposes rules on us and I did it to please society. No one was talking to me in the street. We live in a backward society that imposes backward ideas on our lives”. This killer was originally promised by a great reward from his family once the crime is finished but later he didn’t receive anything. Even he couldn’t go back to normal life after being released. When she asked him “do you regret killing your sister and if you were put in the same situation again would you kill her”. He said “no, I don’t regret killing her. But if I went back in time, I wouldn’t kill my sister. I would tie her up like a sheep in the house until she either died or someone married her”.
It’s clear that we need a serious movement in this area to protect the women from being killed. Equally important, to protect the men from being victims of the backward society.
A great way to end this review is this quotation from the foreword page of the book
“Murder like this, which happened around the world, destroys the honour they are intended to restore. Honour is respect for life. Honour is respect for love. There is no honour in murder”.
I wish if we can have such a recent thorough review of this topic, especially after what is called ‘The Arab Spring’. No one knows what is being done exactly in many refugees’ camps and the affected countries by that chaos. I hope we can put solid actions to continue the momentum and help many women in those countries.