A Respectable Sentence

By Jumana Ghunaimat

تم نشره في Sat 25 March / Mar 2017. 01:00 AM
  • Jumana Ghunaimat

In 2016, 29 homicides in which the victims were all females, which says that women in Jordan are easier to kill.

Either that or the more reasonable argument is that we simply don’t take crimes against women, murder in particular, seriously.

The numbers are just too high; they expose our weakness and our collusion.

All endeavours and initiative to stop violence against women have failed. Honour killing, for example, notwithstanding a variety of other excuses to make killing women somehow justifiable, has not receded the bit over the years.

Quite contrarily, more and more women and female youths are dying every year. At best, we were able to keep the numbers from incrementally rising.

The factors which led to this result vary. Chief among them is that women in Jordan are somewhat shaky when it comes to fending for themselves.

Notably, here, I am not talking about the women engaged in the Civil Society and social movement. I am talking about housewives who swallow the beating and violence they received, supposedly because they are women and should submit to men.

Sometimes I wonder; has the ‘Arab Spring’, all its setbacks, contributed to the receding role of women? Because all the women we saw on the lead have now dropped back, now that their role is concluded!

The status of women has receded; both because male politicians do not take the feminist cause seriously, as crucial as it is, and because legislators still do not see women as worthy equals.

Hence, they strive to sustain the legislation which maintains the unjust circumstances women endure, and they are shameless about. Their main argument is that they fear the disintegration of the family institution. As if, somehow, women’s rights constitute some form of danger to the family institution.

Out there, on the streets, killers usually resort to claim their crimes are honour motivated.

Mindfully, this culture is decades old, reinforced and instilled over the years, to sustain male privileges and dominion without ever batting an eye as to what becomes of the women they kill!

To make it worse, this culture has made its way to the judicial and legislative authorities, to issue rulings which sustain and empower unjust, discriminatory laws; making it legally justified to kill women and give excuses for the killers.

Finally, after decades of waiting for just a little taste of justice, a fair decision —and for the first time— comes out last week, which revokes a previous ruling by the major crimes court to lighten sentences against two brothers who used poison to kill their sister.

On the upside, as partial as this ruling is for the cause of women, it does send out a fair message, which reaffirms strictness in sentences against placeless, needless, and unjustified violence.

The ruling was not diluted, for no reason whatsoever; neither for the method of murder, nor how they attempted to manipulate and mislead the investigation by claiming she killed herself.

To be honest, it has been a long time since we last heard of a decent and respectable ruling.

More so, the ruling clearly rebuts the previous articles which justify the murder of women; they allow for perpetrators to exact unjust, cold-blooded crimes, and rest assured they get out of it easy.

Article 98 of the Penal Code extends the privilege of diluted sentences to criminals who carry out violent crimes of passion; rage.

Fact is, so long as such laws exist, discrimination against women will endure, especially laws that allow honour killing; mainly articles 340, 97, 98, and 99.

Honour killings will not stop, most probably. But what we can do, is stop taking the wrong side. Our laws make it easy for men to kill women under a variety of pretexts. And it will not change until we amend legislation, which is exactly what we need.

That said, we are happy to see decent, respectable sentences come through, to annul the legal justification of murder.

This article is an edited translation from the Arabic version, published by AlGhad.