Thursday, May 19, 2005

Hard Labour for Honour Killing

A judge in Jordan has issued that country's most severe sentences ever for an honour killing- seven and a half and ten years. The two men sentenced had stabbed their pregnant sister to death.

Amira Al-Ajouri was in a relationship with an Egyptian man without her family's knowledge. When it was discovered that she was pregnant, her father agreed to her marriage and she travelled to Egypt. However, when she returned home to Jordan for the birth, her brothers murdered her and her unborn child to "get rid of the shame". Amira was twenty five. There's some confusion as to the age of her unborn child- a police official originally said she was eight months pregnant with a baby boy- but the charge sheet listed her as only three months pregnant.

Judge Mohammed Abu-Dalbouh, who sentenced the two men, did so not to make an example of them but because the murder of a pregnant woman by stabbing that they carried out "lacked the factor of the act of fury". Obviously, if they had committed the murder in a more enraged manner, they would have received a more lenient sentence.

According to Jordanian figures, an average of twenty women a year are murdered in "honour killings", sometimes for nothing more than dating. Jordan's Queen Rania is trying to have sentences made harsher and she has made available legal, medical and social support and a help line for abused women in the country. Even so, conservative lawmakers are opposed to stiffening the laws because they believe it will lead to an increase in "vice".

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