Roundtable on Strategies to Address "Crimes of Honour": A Summary Report

in Yearbook of Islamic and Middle Eastern Law Online
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Roundtable on Strategies to Address "Crimes of Honour": A Summary Report

in Yearbook of Islamic and Middle Eastern Law Online


1 The project is jointly coordinated by Lynn Welchman, Director of CIMEL and Sara Hossain, Legal Officer (South Asia) at INTERIGHTS, in consultation with Professor Abdullahi An Na'im of the Emory School of Law, and with research assistance from Samia Bano, PhD Candidate, Warwick University. Administrative support for the meeting was provided by Lisa Finch, Programme Assistant, INTERIGHTS, and by Fouzia Khan and Keetha Singham, volunteers at INTERIGHTS. The project is funded by the Ford Foundation. 2 Participants included: Abdullahi An-Na'im (Emory University School of Law); Samia Bano (CIMEL; Warwick University); Stephanie Farrior (at the time, Director of the Legal Office, Amnesty International, London); Leyla Gulcur (Senior Programme Officer, International Women's Health Coalition, New York); Sara Hossain (INTERIGHTS); Shamshad Hussain (Manningham Housing Association, Bradford); Rana Husseini (Jordan Times journalist, Amman); Isis Nusair (Human Rights Watch/Women's Rights Division, Washington DC); Gulsah Seral (Women for Women's Human Rights, Istanbul); Asma Jahangir (Advocate, Supreme Court of Pakistan, and UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions); Pragna Patel (Southall Black Sisters, London); Angelika Pathak (Amnesty International); Emma Playfair (INTERIGHTS); Asad Rehman (Amnesty International UK); Puma Sen (Director, CHANGE, and Visiting Research Fellow, LSE); Nafisa Shah (journalist and researcher, Wolfson College, Oxford); Nadera Shalhoub-Kevorkian (Women's Centre for Legal Aid and Counselling, Jerusalem; and Hebrew University); Hannana Siddiqui (Coordinator, Southall Black Sisters, London); Aida Touma Sliman (Women Against Violence, Nazareth); Sohail Warraich (Shirket Gah, Lahore); Lynn Welchman (CIMEL). As the discussions at the meeting were expected to be preliminary and exploratory in nature, no attempt was made to involve participants representing the full range of those working on combating "honour crimes" or able to comment comprehensively on the range of

cont. - _ manifestations. Observers at the meeting included staff from the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. 3 In April 1999, Samia Sarwar was shot and murdered by a man accompanying her mother in the chambers of her lawyer, Hina Jilani, in Lahore, where she had gone to meet with her mother and uncle at their request. Samia's decision to obtain a divorce and to many a man of her choice was not accepted by her family. See "LHRLA condemns killing of woman in HRCP office", The Datvve (staff reporter) 8 May 1999; and pages 19-22 in the Amnesty International Report on Pakistan cited below (note 7). In May 1999, Rukhsana Naz's mother and brother were convicted of her murder in Nottingham, after arguing in their defence that their honour had been violated by her decision to refuse a forced abortion following her relationship with a man against their will. S. Hall, "Life for 'honour': killing of pregnant teenager by mother and brother", The Guardian, 26 May 1999. 4 The Bibliography has been made available on the Internet by the International Women's Health Coalition, at 5 A preliminary paper, "Forced Marriage: A Crime of Honour", was produced in July 2000 by Hannana Siddiqui of SBS.

6AChoiceByRef, the report of the working group on forced marriage, was published in June 2000 by the UK Home Office Communications Directorate. 7 Amnesty International, Pakistan: Violence against Women in the Name of Honour, 22 September 1999, AI Index: ASA 33/17/99. 8 Human Rights Watch, Crime or Custom? Violence Against Women in Pakistan, New York: Human Rights Watch, August 1999. The Women's Rights Division of Human Rights Watch, which prepared this report, had previously investigated the "honour defence" to wife-murder in Brazilian law and practice (Criminal Injustice: Vialence Against Women in Brazil, Women's Rights Project and Americas Watch, October 1991, pp. 18-29) and forced virginity tests in Turkey

cont.(HusnanRightsWatchGlohalReportonWovnen'sHumanRights, August 1995, pp.418-444). ). 9 This section is a summary of the presentations by Rana Husseini, Asma Jahangir, Aida Touma-Sliman, Nadera Shalhoub-Kevorkian, Gulsah Seral and Hannana Siddiqui. 10 The British Council has facilitated a Family Protection Project in Jordan, which addresses, among other issues, child abuse, domestic violence and so-called "honour crimes". The project focuses on policy development and practice and involves both governments and NGOs.

11 See, for example, Alan Philips, "Princes oppose murder of unfaithful wives", Daily Telegraph, 16 February 2000. The piece was reporting the participation of Prince Ali in a march through Amman demanding the repeal of Article 340 of the Penal Code, and more generally the Palace's support for the amendment of the law. 12 Although the Upper House (Senate) endorsed the proposed amendment, the Lower House (Chamber of Deputies) rejected it twice. '3 Nadia Shamroukh of the Jordanian Women's Union reported that in the November parliamentary debate on the bill to repeal Article 340 of the Penal Code, certain deputies charged that the recent national campaign and efforts to get the article repealed were attempts by the West to infiltrate Jordanian society and demoralize women. Rana Husseini, "Women activists pledge to continue struggle against 'crimes of honour' despite Parliament decision", Jordan Times, 23 November 1999. '4 Shaykh al-Tamimi's paper to a meeting on "crimes of honour", convened by the NGO Terre des Hommes in Amman in July 1999, took the view that "honour killings" were not supported by Islamic law because of the warnings in the Qur'an against acting on the bases of unproven doubt and suspicions (Chambers v.12; 4.264; and 2.232). 'S First promulgated as an ordinance in 1990 and subsequently re-issued on a number of occasions until passed by Parliament in 1997: see Amnesty International, Pakistan, p. 44.

16 See, for example, Javed Jaidl, "Rumpus in Senate on Samia resolution", The Drawn, 3 August 1999. In January 2000 the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Asma Jahangir, noted that "the Government of Pakistan has further refused to condemn 'honour killings' despite public protests throughout the country against the decision of the Senate" (UN Doc.E/CN.4/2000/3, para. 81). Later in 2000, after he seized power in Pakistan, General Musharraf appeared to indicate an intention to move more firmly against the perpetrators of "honour crimes": "Pakistan announces steps to improve human rights", The Internatioszal News, 2000; and see Riffat Hassan, "Extremism on the rise again", The Damn, 28 June 2000, on the context of Musharraf's statement. 17 WCLAC's report, Mapping and Analyzing the Landscape of Femicide in Palestinian Society, was completed in the summer of 2000. The project was

cont. directed by Nadera Shalhoub-Kevorkian. See also UNIFEM, Violence Against Women Campaign: Western Asia Report 1999, p. 24. 18 Jordanian law empowers the mukhtar to furnish a death certificate.

19 See Pinar Ilkkaracan and Women for Women's Human Rights, "Exploring the Context of Women's Sexuality in Eastern Turkey", Reproductive Health Matters, November 1998, vol. 6, no. 12, pp. 66-75.

20Islam(AP)v.Secretaryof State fortheHomeDepartment;Rv.ImmigrationAppealTribunalex ParteShah(AP) [1999] 2 WLR 1015, [1999] 2 All ER 545.

21 The introduction was presented by Lynn Welchman.

zz In the same sense that for those sympathetic to the concept, "crimes of honour" are dignified by that description. See Ian Leader-Elliott, "Passion and insurrection in the law of provocation", in N. Naffisen and R.J. Owens (eds.), Hexing the Subject of the La�a�, Sydney, Sweet & Maxwell, 1997, on a "passion which expresses the virtues of the ordinary man ... The ordinary man is a sanguine man, a hot man, whose blood boils when his most vital interests are threatened" (at p. 162) - compared to the generally reviled "cold-blooded killer". z3 See further Lama Abu Odeh, "Crimes of Honour and the Construct of Gender in Arab Societies", in Mai Yamani (ed.), Feminist and Islam, Ithaca Press, 1996, pages 141-194. z4 Where data of known cases revealed the relationship of the perpetrator and victim and the woman was killed alone as kari during 1998 in Sindh, forty of the eighty- one murdered women were killed by their husbands: see Amnesty International's Pakistan report, at p. 6. zs The information provided for the three years from 1995 to 1997 identified fifty- six perpetrators in what the unit classified as "honour killings", including the victim's brother as her killer in 80 per cent of the cases, her father in 14.5 per cent and her husband in 5.5 per cent. Working paper of the Family Protection Unit in the Amman District Police Department, 1999. zb Human Rights Watch's report on Brazil, at p. 21. Argentina saw similar tensions between law and social norms and has a reduced penalty for murder "in a state of violent emotion" in circumstances that "make it excusable", while Venezuelan

corct. law maintains a maximum three-year sentence for a man who kills his wife and/or her lover on finding them in the act of adultery. See papers by A. Segura for the Georgetown International Women's Human Rights Clinic. By contrast, the story of the "honour killing" set by Gabriel Garcia Marquez in a Colombian village, and given "legal-sociological interpretation" by Teubner ("Regulatory Law: Chronicle of a Death Foretold", Social and Leg al Studies, 1992, vol. 1, no. 4) is of the (reluctant) murder by two brothers of the seducer of their sister. 27 Leader-Elliott, "Passion and insurrection", at p. 153. z$ Leader-Elliott argues that defences based on claims of self-defence by women who kill their violent partners have been subjected to "unspoken limits" in North American, English and Australian law, "preserved by a steadily widening conception of provocation". In regard to whether sexual provocation should reduce murder to manslaughter he concludes (at p. 169) that "given the disparity between the sexes in the matter of who kills whom, women may be far more likely than men to conclude that this particular claim to compassion is an anachronism". 29 Article 98, Penal Code: see further Abu Odeh, "Crimes of honour", pp. 158-161 and note 37 p. 192.

30 Nafisa Shah presented the analysis of honour in Sindh summarized in this section. Her many writings on the subject include "Faislo: The Informal Settlement System and Crimes Against Women in Sindh", in Farida Shaheed et al. (eds.), Shaping Women's Lives: Lams, Practices anct Strategies in Pakistan, Lahore, Shirket Gah, 1998, pp. 227-252; "Honour Killings: Code of Dishonour", Ihe Review, 19-25 November 1998, p. 8; and A Story in Black: Karo Kadri Killirags in Upper Sindh, Reuter Foundation Paper 100, Oxford 1998. 3� Wabeed v. Jahangir & Anor, PLD 1997 Lahore 301.

3z Zoora Shah, a Muslim woman in Bradford, UK who killed her partner, allegedly after years of physical, sexual and economic abuse, was sentenced to twenty years in prison. Southall Black Sisters led a campaign on her behalf. See Susan Edwards, "Beyond belief: the case of Zoora Shah", New Law Journal, 8 May 1998, pp. 667-668. In January 2000 her tariff was considerably reduced on appeal.

33 Initial presentations were made by Abdullahi An-Na'im and Asma Jahangir. 34 For a more detailed exposition of this concept see Abdullahi An-Na'im, "Problems of Dependency: Human Rights Organizations in the Arab World", Middle East Report, Spring 2000.

35 Article 7 of the Convention: States Parties undertake to adopt immediate and effective measures, particularly in the fields of teaching, education, culture and information, with a view to combating prejudices which lead to racial discrimination and to promoting understanding, tolerance and friendship among nations and racial or ethnical groups, as well as to propagating the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the United Nations Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, and this Convention. 36 See article 5(a) of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, which states that States Parties shall take all appropriate measures, including legislation, "to modify the social and cultural patterns of conduct of men and women, with a view to achieving the elimination of prejudices and customary and all other practices which are based on the idea of

cont. the inferiority or the superiority of either of the sexes or on stereotyped roles for men and women.". 37 The discussion was prefaced by presentations by Nadera Shalhoub-Kevorkian and Angelika Pathak.

38 The discussions were introduced by presentations from Asma Jahangir, Aida Touma Sliman and Pragna Patel.

39 Osman v. The United Kingdom, ECHR (87/1997/871/1083). 40 Respectively, UN Docs.E/CN.4/1999/39, E/CN.4/1999/68; and E/CN/4/1999/ 60. 41 All three Special Rapporteurs addressed the issue explicitly and in some cases in greater length in their reports of 2000. Asma Jahangir, the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, recorded receiving reports of "honour killings" from Bangladesh, Turkey, Jordan, Israel, India, Italy, Sweden, the United Kingdom, Pakistan, Brazil, Ecuador, Uganda and Morocco, went into some detail on the various legislative provisions in different countries and noted certain efforts at reform; in her concluding remarks, she stated that "The Special Rapporteur further feels a personal commitment and responsibility to address the unacceptable practice of so-called 'honour killings', which she concludes may constitute violations of the right to life when condoned or ignored by the authorities." See UN Doc.E/CN.4/2000/3. See also reports by the Special Rapporteur on violence against women, E/CN.4/2000/68 and by the Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers, E/CN.4/2000/61.

4z The discussion was introduced by comments from Abdullahi An-Na'im. 43 See some of An-Na'im's writings on this in for example: "The Dichotomy Between Religious and Secular Discourse in Islamic Societies", in Mahnaz Afkhami (ed.), Faith and Freedom: Women's Human Rights in the Muslim World, London, LB.Tauris 1995, pp. 51-60.

aa The discussion was prefaced by presentations Aida Touma Sliman, Nafisa Shah and Sohail Warraich.


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