Sunday, April 20, 2008

Enough said ...

The following article appeared in today's Jordan Times. Well said ... and enough said. Time for action to put right a terrible wrong. J


Right to life is sacrosanct
Walid M. Sadi
Jordan Times, 20 April 2008

Many Jordanians rejoiced, temporarily, when the criminal law on the so-called honour crimes was amended, offering women equal treatment with men by granting them relative impunity if they kill or injure husbands caught in an illicit sexual relation.
Before it was amended, Article 98 of the criminal code granted only men various degrees of impunity, including complete impunity when killing wives or female members of their families caught involved in extramarital relations or even appearing to be doing so.
When the country went up in arms against the legal justification for this, Parliament dropped the full impunity clause and retained the extenuating circumstances element in the commission of such crimes, and extended it to women as well, who could kill or injure in the name of honour as well.
This equal gender treatment is not absolute though, as women can only enjoy the same right “to kill or injure” as long as the illicit act of their husbands is committed in the family home. Otherwise, if the husband has an extramarital relation outside his home, the wife has no right to even touch him.
Men, however, have no such restriction and may kill or injure a female member of the family engaged or suspected of engaging in an illicit sexual act anywhere.
Fortunately so far only a handful of women made use of this “privilege”, of this licence to kill or injure their spouses. The same cannot be said about men who continue to murder in the name of “honour” and receive reduced punishments for their crimes!
This gender differential treatment, however, is not quite the main issue. The issue is rather whether the law should offer any degree of impunity to people who kill others in the name of “honour crime”.
Since men continue to exploit the existing criminal code, Jordanians, especially women, have the right to ask whether there is really any justification for this licence to kill or for commuting male murderers’ sentences.
Islam is quite explicit in this regard, as it requires solid evidence, corroborated by four male witnesses, before a woman can be punished for an illicit sexual act. Since this degree of evidence cannot be attained, no court can lawfully condemn a woman for allegedly committing the sin of all sins! If a court cannot pass a judgement of guilt on a woman accused of illicit sexual relations, how can a husband, a brother or an uncle make this determination on his own and get away with it?
There are many sane options available to both sexes in dealing with sexual infidelity, including divorce or separation.
The “fit of fury” often cited by courts to commute sentences on culprits who commit their crimes allegedly in such a state of mind should not be allowed to serve as an excuse for the kind of light sentences rendered against perpetrators of honour crimes.
The right to life is paramount and should not be violated. Lenient sentences, no doubt, end up encouraging the continued commission of crimes.
True, the independence of the judiciary is sacrosanct, but the right to be critical of court decisions that appear to be flawed should not be sacrificed or given up so easily. The existing law is discriminatory against women because it gives men preferential treatment. The application of the law is also flawed because it does not accord the right to life enough respect and protection.
There is no easy remedy for this legal situation, but a start can be made by removing the obvious gender discrimination against women, deeply embodied in the criminal legislation. The second corrective measure can be achieved by eliminating altogether the existing licence for both sexes to commit crime in the name of honour. The fit of fury argument should be conservatively applied.
Attention to our human rights treaty obligations, especially the right to life, should be given priority over all other considerations.

By Walid Sadi

4 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

As I just commented on an older post...We have two problems in the legal code here - one is the "fit of fury" defense (which by the way seems to have been picked up by many Arab countries's "modern" laws from the Napolenoic Code (yes, France!). The other is the assumption that the life of a child or a wife "belongs" to the father and/or husband. If he decides to "take" it and the rest of the family drop charges against him, then it is OK not to punish him. What's wrong here is that if there is a law against murder, then the murder is a crime against the whole commmunity and not only against one person or one family. The victim's family shouldn't have the right to over ride the law. They can forgive him if they want to but society should not!

Sunday, April 20, 2008  
Blogger joladies said...

You are absolutely right anon ...but what can we do and when can we expect this unaceptable situation to right itself ... seeing as I am a member of society that totally refuses this absurd logic .... ?? J

Sunday, April 20, 2008  
Blogger joladies said...

While we are on the topic of women ... here's an interesting article from Pakistan:
http://www.thenews.com.pk/editorial_arc1.asp?wn=Dr%20Farrukh%20Saleem
J

Monday, April 21, 2008  
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Friday, June 13, 2008  

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