There’s an article that’s been floating around the local twittersphere as well as Facebook and quite possibly blogs in a bit. It’s a news article from Ammon’s English-language site that has a slightly misleading, sensationalist headline that reads “The Kingdom drops legal exemptions for honour crimes”.
AMMAN – Reduced sentences in cases where a person claims the murder of a woman was committed in an effort to restore honour will no longer be allowed by Jordan’s courts, a state official said Saturday. “A crime is a crime. There will be no such things as honour crimes or exemptions for those who commit such crimes, because all people are equal before the law,” said Nabil Sharif, minister of state for media affairs and communication.
It kind of reads as if honor crimes have been abolished in Jordan, which has naturally caught the attention of many and I’m sure the link will be passed on.
But I wanted to point out that this isn’t what people think it is. There have been no legislative changes or exemptions made of any kind.
The article is based on government statements made by both Minister of State for Media Affairs and Communication, Nabil Sharif and Minister of Justice Ayman Odeh. Both were pushing the notion that the government has done a lot by way of “protecting” women, indicating that 350 were “saved” through the government’s program, which usually consists of putting these women in a “safe house” until differences with their families can be resolved. It should be noted that a lot of these women are actually killed after being released from government “protection” based on the “guarantees” of the families not to do them any harm, but I suppose it’s better than nothing.
What seems to be happening now is that there is an obvious move by the government to re-approach the issue of honor crimes on various fronts, notably the judicial and legislative branches. These kinds of statements from the executive branch are made available to the press in order to pave the way for something – likely a bill in parliament in the coming weeks or a revision of the penal code.
This is nothing new.
The executive branch’s position on the issue is fairly known, as is the parliament’s position. In order to decrease or abolish these crimes, laws need to be changed as does the judicial system. In order for laws to be changed they need to be passed by parliament (or by temporary law but that’s unlikely with a social issue as taboo as honor crimes). In order for changes in the judicial system to occur, reform from within the system needs to take place – judges need to be trained, guidelines set.
I do have faith that this is a national issue that will eventually be resolved but I also have to acknowledge that it is a very complex issue that does not have a binary state. Resolving its complexities is a process and I can only hope that these statements are indicative of positive changes ahead, or at the very least, an attempt.
In the meantime, these news sources have to take it easy with their headlines.
Meanwhile, this is an interesting video on the issue that’s worth watching. [ht: rima.k]