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Abbas aide: No plans to outlaw 'honor killing'
Published Monday 24/12/2012 (updated) 29/01/2013 16:02
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Police arrest a man accused of killing his niece, Aya Baradiya, in Hebron,
May 12, 2011. (MaanImages/Mohammad Owawy)
By Soraya Al-Ghussein and Hannah Patchett

RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- President Mahmoud Abbas has no plans to amend laws that reduce sentences for suspects who claim an "honor" defense for murdering women, his legal adviser says.

"Why change it? This would cause serious problems," Hassan al-Ouri told Ma'an, adding that such a reform would "not benefit women."

In May 2011, the president pledged to amend the law to guarantee maximum penalties for "honor killing" in response to protests over the killing of university student Aya Baradiya in Hebron.

The decision was announced in a phone call to a primetime show on state TV, drawing tears among crowds of mourners shown in a live link-up from the Ramallah studio to Baradiya’s hometown.

Abbas suspended Article 340, which offers a pardon for murder if the perpetrator committed the crime on finding his wife in bed with another man.

The reform was cosmetic: Article 340 had never been used in Palestinian courts since it was legislated in 1960.

"So why did we change the law? To garner public opinion," al-Ouri said in an interview in the presidential compound in Ramallah.

"I, personally, was against the amendment because the crimes that happen in the street have no relevance to Article 340," the legal adviser added.

Al-Ouri says the president will not change the go-to clauses for lawyers seeking leniency for clients who claim they committed murder to defend family "honor."

Articles 97 to 100 of the Jordanian Penal Code, in force in the West Bank, still offer reduced sentences for any act of battery or murder committed in a "state of rage."

"The (law) only addresses 1 percent of the problem. What we need is a new culture," al-Ouri said.

Other officials insist the penal code is the problem.

The law "privileges the killer," Interior Ministry official Haitham Arrar told Ma'an.

"It encourages some people to commit crimes against women, which will go (as far as) killing them," said Arrar, who heads the ministry's democracy and human rights unit.

Abbas fears 'conservative forces'

The Palestinian Legislative Council has not met since 2007, when Hamas and Fatah split, but women's rights expert Soraida Hussein dismisses arguments that reforms must wait until parliament reconvenes.

"For us, for women, all this is irrelevant," said Hussein, general director of the Women's Technical Affairs Committee, an umbrella group of women’s organizations. "Until now, our lives -- in law and in practice -- are seen as less than men's."

The president should issue a decree that "anybody killing anyone else will be sentenced to the highest sentence possible, whether it is a woman or a boy," says Hussein.

"The minute the law is changed and applied, the minute people will think twice," she says. "It's simple and it's not done."

Hussein suggests Abbas is hesitant to pass legal reforms because "he is not ready yet to confront conservative forces."

In 2009, Abbas ratified the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, but al-Ouri, the legal adviser, says it will only be implemented "so long as it doesn’t contravene Islamic code."

"Look, we are for total equality but if there is a basic tenet of Islamic code that we would be forced to change under CEDAW, then people would revolt and brand us as non-believers," al-Ouri said.

'Dressing up honor'

Lax laws encourage murder suspects to claim "honor" in their defense, officials and women’s rights activists say.

"Because the penalty is one or two months, they consider killing her and dress it up as honor," Minister of Women's Affairs Rahiba Diab told Ma'an.

Khawla al-Azraq, who runs a women’s counseling center in Bethlehem, notes that femicide is a global issue but "now in Palestine, they call this honor killing."

"Sometimes these girls are abused by someone in the family and they need to cover this (up) and they kill her; sometimes because they need her money," she says. "These are the real reasons for killing."

"In Palestine, this is the gap, that until now we don’t have our own legislation that really can protect women."

The Independent Commission of Human Rights says 13 women have been killed this year, but the real figure is likely to be higher.

"There has been historically a problem of documentation," says Hussein, the women's rights expert. The cause of suspicious deaths of women was often recorded as "fate," which could refer to forced "suicides" or being pushed from a building, she explained.

Despite repeated requests since September, the Ministry of Interior did not provide Ma'an with the official number of women whose deaths were recorded as "fate" in 2012.
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1 ) johnny benson / usa
24/12/2012 22:29
it seemsto me that if honor killing is a custom in the arab culture, then i guess it is not our business....agan if is in israel or america,then the laws there should apply

2 ) Outlier / USA
24/12/2012 23:33
The long road to the future just got longer with this tacit endorsement of tribalism and barbarism.

3 ) Palestinian woman / oPt
25/12/2012 01:26
what a shame!! We need a president - the only legislator at this time - to protect women and children, but he is AFRAID to change a law that protects murderers?? Where are we living?

4 ) gabi / australia
25/12/2012 02:00
Palestine - the whole world is looking to you. Please, PLEASE, outlaw this horrible practice. It is an abomination. And unworthy of true Muslims.

5 ) Reader / from Edmonton
25/12/2012 05:08
The world moves on: Ma'an sleeps.

6 ) Colin Wright / USA
25/12/2012 05:20
"The (law) only addresses 1 percent of the problem. What we need is a new culture," The problem with this argument is that law and culture reinforce each other, and to refuse to change the law hardly signals a determination to change the culture.

7 ) Paul / Africa
25/12/2012 10:20
Abbas is in cahoots with murderers.

8 ) Shirley S / Australia
25/12/2012 11:48
Do not rock the boat. "Why change it?

9 ) southparkbear / usa
25/12/2012 14:51
no can do gabi, this tradition is enshrined in the culture

10 ) Jane / Ir
25/12/2012 16:28
Abbas is conservative and his movement Al Fatah is also very conservative. They do not want to change the law.

11 ) Daniel / USA
25/12/2012 16:44
Those of us sympathetic to the cause of the Palestinian people find this failure to protect women inhibits our work in rallying new people to your cause. It is shameful and reactionary. Women are not playthings!

12 ) Arnold / Canada
25/12/2012 17:36
In America the NRA holds sway over gun ownership. Politicians avoid the issue massacre after massacre. Finally Obama is pushing for dialogue. In Arabia men and their male politicians hold sway over the rights of women. Seems Abbas does not have the cohonas to do the right thing for women of Arabia.

13 ) matt / usa
25/12/2012 17:52
Actually, gabi, it is because of true islam that this practice comes into play

14 ) Usa / Www
25/12/2012 17:57
Every nation has its laws In europe 16 is age limit to be with a girl In Usa its 18 So is the man in europe considered a pedophile in the Usa?

15 ) A User / Palestine
25/12/2012 18:26
I don't care what cultural/religious beliefs we are protecting with this stupidity. Taking another life is the worse crime possible, and giving a killer a reduced sentence for some idiotic reason (honor killing) is sick, and shows lack of respect for human life. At their core, monotheistic religions don't allow for equality between men and women, yet western countries have managed that equality in some form or another. We need separation of state and religion, sadly ME is heading the other way.

16 ) KAGH / US
25/12/2012 20:33
hopefully this will change if true however I would like to inform Soraya Al-Ghussein and Hannah Patchett that the algeminer, Eldar ofZyon, Jihad Watch, Israel Matzav just to name a few are thanking you for the holiday gift as it is being used not to pressure change but to justify continuing the occupation and colonization efforts of those they support

17 ) Outlier / USA
26/12/2012 04:31
Spiked Comment. Typical Ma'an.

18 ) ian / australia
26/12/2012 05:21
#1 I agree with gabi. Just sort this Pres. Abbas and do it quickly and publicly. Forget about "conservative forces". Show where you stand...for Palestine as a modern state. This horrifies and repels the world...just as Israel's eviction of families onto the street and the demolition or theft of their homes, or ferocious IDF assaults on children in Gaza or "price tag" attacks or sadistic settler violence appalls. Palestine, you are better than that. Abu Mazen. Take a stand. Just do it. Yalla!

19 ) Brian Cohen / Israel
26/12/2012 10:17
Hate to pop your bubble, Ian, but no - Palestine is not a modern state and obviously does not embrace modern standards of civil and human rights for its own people. Palestine is a two-headed monster: Fatahland and Hamastan. Abbas will not take a stand, and Palestine is not better than this. It may be one day (heck, they are our neighbors and we damn well hope so), but for now forget it. Palestine is just another abusive Arab dictatorship. Actually 2 of them.

20 ) PSC Bristol / uk
26/12/2012 14:54
Dear Brian, I can see you want Palestine to became modern and forget their Culture, So, why Isral try to reclaim some land that was belong to the Jews community 3000 years ago? please become modern and leave Palestine to the Palestinians, and doing so, you dont have to worry about their culture, religion, ditectorship and laws! Is only Palestinins problems.

21 ) PSC bristol / uk
26/12/2012 14:58
What we dont like, when Israelis commit Huge dimention crime. Dont apply under the Gineva convention, when come to type of wapens, olso israel broke, and no one inforze, the so called UN resolution. They only apply to Iraq. Shame

22 ) Howie / Usa
26/12/2012 17:36
Palestinians are losing female support for there so called " cause" how can they support a regime that agrees with female murder!

23 ) Arnold / Canada
26/12/2012 18:00
Ian and PSC Bristol. This report is solely about Abbas' refusal to help women in their struggle to attain protection from violent men. Why do you find it necessary to drag Israel into the equation ?

24 ) Zachary / Canada
26/12/2012 18:57
This is why most people in the west will support Israel. Till a secular arab woman has more liberty in palestine then she has in Tel Aviv people will turn a blind eye to the abuses of zionist hardliners. People apply the lesser evil concept when forming their opinions and the lesser evil is zionism, but as palestinian infrastructure/education/cultural/economic growth is sacrificed for the sake of conflict it appears zionism will remain the lesser evil for the immediate future.

25 ) Emile / Palestine
26/12/2012 20:03
Another reason to be ashamed of our "president".

26 ) Mohammed Karmeli / Palestine
26/12/2012 20:57
#13 Matt, you are wrong. Islam does not in any way allow for so called honor killings to take place. Had the Islamic sharia been the law then the man who comitted such a "honor" killing would be put to death for wrongfully taking the life of a person and if anyone had aided that man in comitting such a crime then that person would be punished by law.

27 ) Mohammed Karmeli / Palestine
26/12/2012 21:03
#24, i dont know how u figured that one out because polls after polls have prooven europeans view israel in bad light and tend to be more pro-palestine than they are pro-israel. But if u were referring to the US/Canada, then perhaps ur right, after all zionism occupies the US and dont even have free media when it comes to israel. Jewish women from the haredi and other ultra religious jewish communites r often beaten by males for not acting or dressing properly but thats not reported in ur media.

28 ) Mohammed Karmeli / Palestine
26/12/2012 21:17
Al ouri should be dismissed immediatly for making such stupid remarks. Culture changes when laws change. European culture used to have many barbaric practises in it until laws were put in place to criminalize such practise. That is how you change a society, by setting up laws, not by blaming culture that changes based on what laws, rulers and other such factors one has. The Jordanian law on this matter is 100% against Islamic law and should have been removed the second it was put in place!

29 ) Mohammed Karmeli / Palestine
26/12/2012 21:33
In the quran and the prophetic example, we r told not to get angry, not to take a innocent life (if ur daughter has "shamed u" then that is not a reason for which its allowed to take someones life), we r forbidden from accusing someone without clear proof etc. Honor killing has nothing to do with islam & "honor" killers arent even religious, they act based on their own selfish reasons & not to please God. Dont blame islam for the act of angry men who exist in both muslim & non-muslim sociaties.

30 ) Mohammed Karmeli / Palestine
26/12/2012 21:46
So called honor violence takes place all over the world & has nothing to do with religion. To give you a recent incident: A swedish father kicked & beat his pregnant daughter because her boyfriend was lebanese and he felt she had shamed him by getting pregnant by an arab. I dont have enough space here to write down all non-muslim honor crimes (killings or otherwise) but i personly know of 10 or so cases where non-muslims comitted such crimes & there are millions & millions more out there.

31 ) ian / australia
27/12/2012 01:08
#19 "...Palestine is not better than this. It may be one day (heck, they are our neighbors and we damn well hope so), but for now...Palestine is just another abusive Arab dictatorship." A bit harsh but mainly agree. Palestine is a third world country, hugely traumatised by the advent of Israel, muddling along (in a post-Colonial world which hasn't reached it yet) trying to create a modern identity that accommodates medieval aspects in the culture. (Israel, on the other hand, as a wealthy,

32 ) ian / australia
27/12/2012 01:08
(contd.) advanced, first world country has no such excuse for ITS behaviour.) Your optimism ("It may be one day") is shared by all. Ever so occasionally Brian you say something nice. Like calling Palestinians your "neighbors"...presumably in their sovereign state next door! And I'd add that for that to be a reality, it has to be a viable state, not the pittance your PM is "offering", based on respect (East Jerusalem and the Aqsa), compromise (giving up some big settlements) and

33 ) ian / australia
27/12/2012 01:10
(contd.) flexibility (highway to Gaza). When "painful concessions" (Bibi's phrase) on BOTH sides, REALLY hurt, (like giving up RoR or the Old City or Hebron and the Caves of the Patriarchs) a solution might be found. Insha'Allah.

34 ) Gary Katz / USA
27/12/2012 01:15
Mohammed Karmeli, I have never heard of an "honor killing" being committed by a Jew. Have you?

35 ) ian / australia
27/12/2012 01:53
#26 "#13 Matt, you are wrong." It's barely worth pointing out that matt is wrong Mohammed. It's just so obvious. Ditto johnny benson #1, Outlier #2, spb #9, Howie #22. What they represent is the knee-jerk reaction of shameless apologists who all of a sudden are experts on Islam, "Arab culture" and what's "enshrined" in it. What's striking is how, unlike normal people, their own ignorance isn't a problem. They'll say ANYTHING which makes them annoying but not worth the effort. (#26-#30 is great.)

36 ) gabi / australia
27/12/2012 08:28
# 13 - no, you are wrong. It also happens in some areas of Greece. And Sicily. # 19 - Brian - who created this "two-headed monster?" Look in the mirror. #24 - the segregated buses and streets in Jerusalem? Ritual bath? Not oppression of women? #24 - sorry to burst your bubble, but most people in the west do not support Israel. You should get out more.

37 ) Brian Cohen / Israel
27/12/2012 10:23
Mohammed Karmeli - the difference is that the Swedish guy will go to jail, get govt imposed psychiatric counselling and will be monitored by the authorities. The daughter will be supported by Swedish govt social services. If he beats her again he'll most likely spent time in jail. In Palestine, none of this will happen and that is the big crime. Despite Muslims knowing the Kuran in Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia, they still beat and kill women with impunity. Take action. Get al-Ouri fired.

38 ) Outsider / EU
27/12/2012 11:08
Extremely disappointing. Is it too much to ask that Abbas show some leadership in this respect at least?

39 ) Zachary / Canada
27/12/2012 13:46
at Mohammed Karmeli, when a secular arab woman has more liberties and freedoms in palestine then she has serving jews and cleaning their homes in Tel Aviv the opinions in north america will quickly change. Till then, zionist extremism will always get a blind eye.

40 ) matt / usa
27/12/2012 17:42
@ mohamad ( 30 ) maybe so but your version of islam is not with reality

41 ) Yap / Usa
27/12/2012 18:29
Honor killing in the international arena is called murder!!

42 ) badabing badaboom / United Kingdom
27/12/2012 20:10
I have no problem with this law, so long as there is sufficient proof. Women should also be given the right to kill their husbands if they find them in bed with another woman. I am not anti-woman in saying this: I am anti-adultery.

43 ) Arnold / Canada
27/12/2012 20:21
Mohamad Karmelli- Of course the Quran does condone honor killing but by the same token it does not allow for punishment of men when they do kill. And all the other men just look the other way. In reference to your point about Hassidic men mistreating their wives , you just do not see it in the paper as much because Hassidic men do not kill their wives. They easily divorce them if they are unhappy with them. There is honor amongst Hasidim but it does not involve regaining honor by murder.

44 ) Chalmers / Uk
28/12/2012 20:05
#30 that's not what it's about. It's about having a law in place that gives leniency if you killed your wife as an "honor" killing. Murder is murder. Man or woman. Whatever the reason

45 ) Jade / USA
29/12/2012 01:41
Nonie Darwish is from Gaza and wrote a book called "Cruel and Usual Punishment" that outlines exactly why this is a cultural issue. (Umdat al-Salik o1.1-2 justifies honor killingaccording to Al -Azhar Univ.) Quran 4:34, beat them if they disobey" also justifies beating women, so they have a long way to go for women's rights in general. Ali Sina also has a blog that talks about women's rights. And, muslim women's rights activist Ghada Jamshir talks about sharia in regards to women on youtube.

46 ) Gary Katz / USA
29/12/2012 05:48
I guess honor killings are okay... if you wish to remain in the 7th century.

47 ) Jane / Ir
30/12/2012 15:05
Abbas supports women rights only in his speach in UN.In Palestine he supports honor killers. How Palestinina sociaty can fingt occupation whne the opresson inside sociaty is a huge problem.

48 ) Birgitta / Sweden
30/12/2012 17:55
To all Palestinian women- Be strong and fight for your freedom!!!!

49 ) Brian Cohen / Israel
31/12/2012 15:19
Interesting approach by #20 PSC who says Jews have no right to "reclaim" land that belonged to them in Palestine. So PSC says there is a statute of limitations on being a refugee from your homeland. Ok, let's say that I agree with PSC. So how long is this period before Jews had no claim to their lands in Palestine? 100 years? 300 years? 1000 years? If PSC is correct, then we can wait until the limitation runs out on the Palestinians. I think PSC is wrong and I want a negotiated 2 state solution.

50 ) Colin Wright / USA
01/01/2013 21:36
So...how's Israel doing with those incest cases? Brian, Arnold, Gary, Howie? Of course, far be it from me to compare honor killings with just having at your seven year old sister.

51 ) ian / australia
03/01/2013 00:32
#49 "...I want a negotiated 2 state solution." That's good to hear Brian. I do too. It's what ALL sensible, decent people want! But you have to MEAN it (ie. your government) not just mouth the words as a wily euphemism for screwing the other guy into a terrible deal by bargaining hard from a position of absurdly asymmetrical strength. (I hope that's not what you mean.) There has to be genuine respect and willingness to make Bibi's "painful concessions". When it hurts like hell, on BOTH sides,

52 ) ian / australia
03/01/2013 00:33
(cont'd) eg. giving up the Right of Return or East Jerusalem and the Old City (excluding the Jewish Quarter and HaKotel) or Ariel, the "negotiated 2 state solution" you want will be possible. Anything less is perpetuation of the farce. This year, insha'Allah.

53 ) @ Pal Women-3 & Birgitta-48 / Murder & Freedom
03/01/2013 03:47
3- The PA has NO Realisatic Plans to do anything but wait: - NOT to improve present living conditions of women and children", - NOT to improve future living conditions of women and children", and - NOT even "to protect Arab women and children" from being MURDERED UNDER THE LAW. 48- Perhaps "Palestinian women should fight for their freedom" like Palestinian men, and start murdering the government leaders with guns, and when that fails, with suicide bombers !!

54 ) Hala / Palestine
23/09/2013 12:47
To Palestine Leaders, Eyes of the world are registering any abuses of Human Rights that you are practicing . How do you expect the support you get from round the world to continue if you do not attempt and have a go at changing the culture of killing women. Don't just make a law , enforce it. Lose the sympathy and understanding of your international supporters and you are guaranteed failure of getting any part of Palestine back.

55 ) Harly hutagaol. / Indonesia.
05/03/2014 01:44
To All palestian ,if you have a god and trusted thee, what in the hell you dared to touch or kill human that god created! By killing women, means you have sold " Honor " very very very cheap, even a coward can not do that. okay, I am a type brutal man but I must forgive,honor,set the women free. that is the highest honor!not cheap honor.
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