Friday, March 27, 2009

Where is Honour Found?

This posting is not an attempt to diminish the horror of honor crimes; it is an attempt to understand the framework in which they exist.

Jordanian society as a whole does not condone honor killings. It is a very small minority of people, influenced by some dark traditions in their tribal past, who believe they have the right to kill their female relatives to preserve their ‘honor.’

One would assume then that the majority of enlightened men in our government and parliament would overturn the laws that allow these murders to go virtually unpunished. Instead it seems almost like a taboo for men to debate and denounce honor crimes publically even though they personally deplore them and would never commit one.

It is my understanding that Jordanian men derive their honor from the activities of their female relatives. Therefore what is perceived to be a woman’s disagreeable, objectionable, or disobedient behavior reflects on the honor of her male relatives, usually her father, making him look weak and vulnerable in the eyes of others.

Losing control over a woman in his charge is a serious insult to his manhood.Since the defining symbol of a man’s honor rests on the actions of his female relatives, it follows that part of the core identity of his manliness is in her hands, which in itself is a threat to a man. How confusing for both men and women. He needs control over her since his honor rests with her, and she has control over him by her behavior. Regardless, I doubt if we westerners can appreciate how important the opinion of others is in Jordanian society. Male and female codes of behavior that influence opinion have been taken for granted for so long, they are part of the cultural norm.

I don’t understand how honor, or other’s opinions of a person, rests in the actions of their relatives. Certainly an adult is responsible for his own actions, but that isn’t for me to decide. After reading about the viciousness of the latest honor crime, it is time for Jordanian men and women to define ‘honor’ and decide where it is found. In the meantime, changing laws will not stop honor crimes, but if the perpetrators are prosecuted to the full extent of the law as murderers, it will go a long way to decrease their frequency. ASH

17 Comments:

Anonymous Sha77atah said...

>>> it seems almost like a taboo for men to debate and denounce honor crimes publicly

HUH? here we go again trying to over dramatize something that's patently untrue. I have never met anyone in Jordan who is uncomfortable talking about honor killing. Are you in Jordan? Why are you straining so hard to turn honor killing into a taboo when it's not. The only taboo in Jordan is for someone to publicly support honor killing.

I think honor killing campaigners are unwilling to let go of their campaign. They refuse to accept that they no longer have a soap box at the grassroots level. They are too afraid to take their soap box to the Royal Court and to face the King. So they keep shouting in every direction and at everyone and to constantly preach to the choir.

I have bad news for you. Your fight starts and stops at the Royal Court. I know it's hard for you to stop playing a martyr for Arab women and that you need to invent a taboo when none exists. But if you want to end honor killing laws, just make a phone call to the Royal Court and demand the abolition of honor laws.

All your crying and weeping and badgering and shouting at fellow Jordanians will not produce anything since you will hardly find anyone who disagrees with you and even if you do no one in Jordan can change the laws but the king who, along with his appointed Senate approved them in the first place.

But maybe you have ulterior motives. Do you care for women or are youtrying to impress some Western NGO friend with your courage? Want to show courage? Go to the Royal Court and demand an end to honor killing laws. It's that simple. Why keep complicating it. The King has a monopoly over honor killing laws. make sure he reads your articles.

Friday, March 27, 2009  
Blogger joladies said...

It really upsets me when an answer to a blog becomes an attack. Why should you be upset with us for trying to bring our feelings and thoughts into the public forum? And as for accusing us of ulterior motives, that is a total insult and I totally refute what you say.

By writing blogs and letters to the newspapers it is hoped that pressure will be felt at the top, whether the Government or the Royal Family.

And how does one get to the King or phone the Royal Court? Why don't you call?

Some of your points are valid and I respect them but I was sorry to read how you tried to make your points. T

Friday, March 27, 2009  
Anonymous Sha77atah said...

>>> Why don't you call?

Because it's pointless. But at least you will be talking to the only party that counts. One man decides. That's how Jordan works.

Friday, March 27, 2009  
Anonymous kinzi said...

Sha77atah, you sound a lot like a commenter who came to my blog, Observer's blog, and several others. A one man/woman cynic.

It is very disturbing to continue to hear of your accusation of ulterior motives.

Our blogs are read by people who let the royal court know what is going on. I think your placing the blame at the foot of our King is a disservice. Then again, I don't know how these things work, not fear.

But I do have a connection in a royal office, due to your insistence. Will you join me?

I invite you again, if you care about the lives of Jordanian women, to become a more constructive part of the solution. with all the time you have spent commenting on blogs to complain about the way we are 'crying, weeping and badgering'.

If there was anything worth weeping over, it is the death if innocent women.

Saturday, March 28, 2009  
Blogger joladies said...

Calm down Sha77atah .... As you have no doubt read from our profile, we have lived here probably longer than you ...and this is a blog about 'our' observations. full stop. Your cynical attitude and personal attacks are also part of the problem ....instead of attacking individuals speaking out, why don't you do something exceptional that we can all blog about. I too am tired of people taking umbrage over semantics so let's stick to the issues here, whether you like it or not there is a reluctance (or taboo) on tackling cultural perceptions of this nature. Sadly at the end of the day, no law, nor pronoucements from the King will stop this outright because man is what he is. It is a process of re-education that we must all be involved in. I for one would like to see more being done from our religious leaders ....preaching from every mosque on every friday for the rest of the decade ... maybe then attitudes will change. But until then, we will continue to speak out against this nonsensical evil according to our own perception, because this way we are engaging in the political process that is Jordan, not giving up and resting on one's laurels, like you. So Sha77atah, are you with us or against us?? J

Saturday, March 28, 2009  
Anonymous Sha77atah said...

Kinzi, your cliches are becoming annoying. Just because you are in Jordan does not mean we are not up to date on worn out American cliches. So stop this crap about being part of the solution not part the problem.

You are part of the problem because you keep deceiving the readers into thinking you are leading some heroic grassroots campaign to free Jordanian women from violent backward Jordanian males.

Actually you and your fellow campaigners are engaging in two acts of deceptions.

1- you are misleading readers into thinking the King is not the responsible party.I know you like the king. He is America's loyal man. You invested so much in him. But when you keep blaming his victims, the Jordanian people, for laws they have no control over, you are offending me personally and you are harming Jordanians.

2- by pretending you are mobilizing a grassroots campaign in Jordan, you are deceiving the readers into thinking Jordan is some modern democracy. We are a dictatorship. We have no say over anything. And you are not helping when you manipulate reader perceptions.

What's next Kinzi? You want to stand on Jabal Amman and shout "I HAVE A DREAM". Well guess what, so do we. We dream that you and your fellow Americans will stop tarnishing Jordan's' reputation because of actions by a dictatorship you have imposed on us. Either you find the courage to speak to the King directly or stop shouting at us, hoping he will hear you.

You silly little hypocrite.

Saturday, March 28, 2009  
Blogger joladies said...

Attn: Sha77atah

Anymore personal attacks on my blog will be deleted without hesitation. You really are a silly little person.

Saturday, March 28, 2009  
Anonymous Sha77atah said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

Saturday, March 28, 2009  
Anonymous Salma said...

I while ago I read a book by Norm Frankenstein called the Holocaust Industry. I strongly recommend this book.

The author explains the culture of profiteering from the misery of Jews who perished during the Nazi Holocaust. This profiteering comes in many flavors including economic as well as political. I will not compare the holocaust to honor killing for obvious reasons , but there are similarities when it comes to the culture of profiteering.

It's unfair to characterize everyone involved in the honor killing campaign as profiteering from the misery of Jordanian women, but it's hard to discount the possibility that many are.

The question that keeps haunting honor killing campaigns do lend credence to this industry argument. If the King is the man who makes the ultimate decision to abolish honor killing laws and since his father put these laws on the books, why do honor killing activists keep challenging their energies to "educate" a population that is politically impotent and in one survey after another shows an overwhelming majority in favor of abolishing honor killing laws? Then we have the scope of the honor killing phenomena. Less than 20 per year in a country of 5 million is not an indictment of a culture and value. This is of course tragic and must be stopped. However, more Jordanian women get killed crossing the road in Jordan each year than by honor killing. Yet the massive effort and money and time put into exposing honor killing practices and the wrong focus of the campaigns do raise interesting questions. It's these contradictions that are hard to explain

With much of the resources put into fighting honor killing laws originating from right wing American groups, and with the Jordanian monarch being seen as a very close ally of the US, the contradictions are a result of these groups trying to protect their man while targeting Arab culture.

In my assessment, this is how it goes.

Right wing American groups want to protect their man in Jordan, King Abdulla II, but would like to score points against Arabs culture and Islamic traditions for ideological reasons having to do with neoconservatives' knee-jerk disgust with anything Arabic or Islamic. So they shape an honor killing campaign by deciding what to fund and whom to fund, in a manner that avoids mention of the only person in Jordan who is responsible for honor laws, the King, while keeping the energy focused on Arab values and traditions.

I am of the mind that these groups don't want to see an end to honor killing laws. That's why they have never applied pressure on the King directly. Honor killing laws have become a useful effigy of the Arab world to burn again and again before world opinion. Sort of like what the Americans did to the Taliban before the invasion and the overthrow of the Taliban. Any observer of the situation of women in Afghanistan would tell you women there are not fairing much better under the American-installed regime. Yet, as the specter of Taliban victory looms, the same American right wing groups are becoming more and more visible again reminding us of the situation of women under Taliban. In the meanwhile, Obama mobilizes US forces for a possible all out confrontation with he Taliban.

So what we have here is the the misuse of women suffering for political objectives.

For that to succeeded, money is allocated. NGOs funded. Activists mobilized. And a whole industry is built up, the Honor Killing Industry.

Saturday, March 28, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are not reading this issue correctly. I am not sure this issue is taboo because of cultural reasons. This is strictly a political taboo. Everyone knows the King's role in preserving the status quo and now one dares speak out. But we are so glad people like you and Kinzi have the guts to speak out.

Saturday, March 28, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice discussion.

Saturday, March 28, 2009  
Blogger Ann said...

Salma thank you for your comment on my posting, Where is Honor Found?
First of all, I do not belong to any NGO – I am married to a Jordanian, with strong tribal ties, and have lived in Jordan for 50 years. I get no money from any activist organization or ‘honor crime’ industry. I write what I observe.
I disagree with you totally about the role of the monarchy in this issue. In fact, I think that you and several others, who have made similar comments on this posting, are using this as an excuse to vent your own personal frustrations with political life in Jordan. Honor killings predate all modern nations in the Middle East, possibly in Africa and maybe places in Asia. I am not an authority on the history of this horrible practice. Honor crimes are a part of the patriarchal tribal culture wherever it is found. Actually, I read that there were several murders in the USA and England where the defendant tried to use honor killing as a defense.
I stand by what I wrote. I am not comparing numbers about female deaths here. I am not putting any political connotations on the practice either. Honor killings have a cultural and social origin. They are considered to be an act of murder since they are the willful taking of the life of another. As you are aware, there are many countries in the world and a number of states in the USA that do not have capital punishment for murder because they consider that the state does not have the right to take human life.
ASH

Saturday, March 28, 2009  
Anonymous Ka7toota said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

Saturday, March 28, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

Saturday, March 28, 2009  
Blogger joladies said...

Article on the subject:
http://www.thenational.ae/article/20090329/FOREIGN/536941891/1011/NEWS

Sunday, March 29, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just to put things in perspective:

From the 2008 UN Report on Violence Against Women

"Several global surveys suggest that half of all women who die from homicide are killed by their current or former husbands or partners. In Australia, Canada, Israel, South Africa and the United States, 40%-70% of female murder victims were killed by their partners."

http://www.un.org/women/endviolence/docs/VAW.pdf

Saturday, April 04, 2009  
Blogger joladies said...

Dear Anonymous,
Thank you for your comment about the 2008 UN Report on violence against women. I am sure that at least half the women who are killed have been murdered by their husbands and/or partners. But that's not the point. Homicide is punished in most countries of the world, but honor crimes in Jordan are not considered homicide and go unpunished. Violence against others seems to be a part of the nature of man, unfortunately, but what a country does about it is the issue. ASH

Sunday, April 05, 2009  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home