Sunday, September 11, 2011

Honor Lost - a book review

Love and Death in Modern-Day Jordan
By; Norma Khouri

This is a tragic true story written by a young woman who escaped from Jordan. Her life long girl friend had been murdered by her father when he discovered she had been meeting with a man that she had come to love. They had never engaged in sexual activity but just having contact with a man was sufficient to kill her by stabbing her 12 times in the chest and waiting until she was dead before calling an ambulance. As is required by law he turned himself in, was sentenced to three months in jail, was bailed out and at the end of the sentence was released for time served even though he had never spent a day in prison.
The author is devoting her life to try to end the age old practice in the Arab world of treating women as objects rather than equals. In Jordan’s Penal Code there are two articles that allow these murders and protect the murderers. Article 340 exempts from punishment those who kill female relatives found committing adultery, and reduces the penalty for those who kill female relatives found in a situation of adultery (such as talking to a stranger). Article 98 reduces the penalty for the perpetrator of a crime when he acts “in a fit of fury” in response to a wrongful and serious act on the part of the victim. It is estimated that over 2,000 murders occur each year in Jordan and over 5,000 in Arab countries as a whole.
I am one who is always searching for knowledge. I am quick to judgment on members of the Muslim faith. What disturbed me most was that these crimes are not just committed by Muslims but also by Christians living in these countries. According to the author honor killing in Arab countries have been under Islamic Law since A.D. 644. It has been incorporated into Arab culture and is practiced by both Christians and Muslims. Christians, of course are treated as second class citizens (dhimmah). They are required to pay a toll tax, must not harm Muslims, have any sexual engagement with Muslim women, steal the property of Muslims, nor co-operate with enemies of Islam. In other words Christians emulate the Muslim traditions. While their women have more rights as a rule, they are still treated as unequal.
Reading this book will give you insight on what it must be like to be a female in an Arab country, always doing the bidding of fathers, brothers and other male relatives, never being allowed to pursue whatever dreams you might have. Entire lives spent living in fear. Never knowing when you might be punished or killed for a perceived offence.
Let me close by adding my thoughts. First, I wonder why there is no condemnation by American or European women who have been so outspoken in their drive for equality in Western countries. Could it be that having achieved their goals they are insensitive to the plight of women living under Islam in countries where Islam is the law of the land. Why has our government not applied pressure for these countries to move into the 21st Century? In my paranoia I see these customs spreading rapidly throughout the civilized world. Europe in particular has been infected but I also am aware of it building in America as well and I don’t like it.
As I previously stated the author has devoted her life to ending “honor killing”. Read the book and find some way to express yourself to add to her efforts. Who knows, perhaps in our lifetimes these barbaric acts of hate against women could be stopped.

Jack B. Walters
September 11, 2011

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