Stop killing women in the name of honour

Stop killing women in the name of honour

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Lubna Isam started this petition to United Nations

Society is witnessing an increasing number of extremist voices that are solely dedicated to hating women. As one would expect, these voices thrive in adverse situations such as war, humanitarian crises, unregulated ownership of guns and other weapons, and lack of legislation and political commitment to protect women. All of this culminates in the senseless killing of thousands of women, who lose their lives on daily basis in the name of honour. This umbrella term, honour crime, is often used by man-killers to justify assaulting and killing any woman, be it a sister, a daughter, a wife, or a cousin. Even a distant relative's life is out for grabs by any man who belongs to the same family or tribe - a right that has always been supported by the ancient patriarchal ideology that still prevails in our society. It is this patriarchal mind that says honour can only be defended by spilling the blood of a woman - any woman for that matter.

It has to be stressed that killing a woman because of her gender is not an a rare or a one-off scenario. On the contrary, it represents a global societal problem, based on the stereotypical dichotomy of human genders, where men are traditionally viewed as holistic and godly rulers over their female counterparts. This issue is particularly prevalent in MENA (Middle East and North Africa), a conglomerate of Arabic speaking countries where religious and tribal authorities merge to a singular paternal autocracy. Only in MENA do people publicize and take pride in tribal killings and honour crimes, as one can see on unadulterated social media posts.

In 2021, the world was shook by the vicious, premeditated, and video-taped murder of "Aida al-Saidou," the young Syrian girl who lost her life in the name of defending tribal honour. The killers were none other than the men in her own family, who not only took away the young girl's life, but also blatantly video-taped and documented their murder. A murder that has been blessed by society and its regulations, by tribe and its pride in protecting murderous men. The same men who send misogynistic messages advocating killing any woman who dares step out of her pre-determined familial role -messages that guarantee the persistence of the ancient patriarchal institution with its outdated sexist ad-hoc regulations.

With the beginning of 2022, the reported number of murder cases that target women has been on the rise in Syria, Egypt, Iran, and Iraq, reaching an all-time high. The practice of "punishing" a woman who has "desecrated" family's honour is on the rise, as reflected in the reports of various International human rights organisations, such as Amnesty International, as well as in various media reports and eye-witness testimonies. According to reports, the areas most affected by these practices include, in addition to the above, Kurdish areas, the West bank, Gaza strip, and Jordan. These areas are regarded by women's right activists as the worst anti-feminist areas in modern history. However, there are other countries where the reported crime numbers are wildly under-estimated, thanks to media censorship and government covering. A prime example is Egypt, where official sources deny the mere existence of women killing in the name of honour.

According to the Middle Eastern quarterly report, honour crimes are more prevalent in countries with majority of Muslims, which together constitute 72% of all cases worldwide. With the exploding refugee situation, refugee families from affected countries export their flawed ideas to the countries that welcomed them in. It is therefore understood how the culture of killing in the name of honour is being exported to countries like the UK, Germany, Russia, Canada, among several others.

It is reported that there are 20,000 women who are killed annually by male members of their families or tribes. Most of these killings occur in Islamic countries such as Pakistan, Iran, Turkey and Iraq. Dozens of these crimes are registered as suicide cases, while hundreds of other crimes are covered by burying the girl in desert, followed by claiming that the victim was married or has travelled abroad. In many cases, a stray bullet from a male family member finds its way to a girl's chest, who is then buried in an unmarked grave in the middle of nowhere.

Following the above we, as women's rights ogranisations, standalone feminist activists in Arabic speaking regions, as well as nonbinary gender-neutral people, we all disapprove, condemn, and refuse these stereotyped crimes. We therefore request international human rights organisations to do the following:

  • Press our governments to force them to abide by the CEDAW agreement, and to implement a holistic approach that prohibits all forms of violence towards women, and to prosecute the culprits in such crimes.
  • To press our countries to follow international human rights agreements.
  • To encourage our governments to accurately and transparently report crimes against women and to alert the public about the existence of such crimes.
  • To empower women's rights and human rights organisations to enable their integration into government bodies, in order to assist in implementing precautionary measures that incorporate gender diversity, and to condemn hate speech against women.
  • To implement active, working measures that support, guard and empower women at all levels, and to support female survivors, especially in rural and distant areas.
  • To form a unified front that penalizes the countries that do not take an active part in prosecuting and punishing male perpetrators.
  • To plan, coordinate, and cooperate with the international women's organisations to enable effective measures that will eventually protect women in rural and distant areas, in order to form a unified global front that supports and empowers women.
  • To require MENA countries to raise awareness about gender variety and its importance by utilising the media, social networks, and the educational system, starting from kindergarten and early school years, to educate young generations and the wider public about women's rights.
  • To help women's rights organisations to reach everyone, including policy markers, by organising specialist-led training courses, public awareness campaigns, and women's rights activities that utilise available media and news outlets to spread messages about protecting women's lives, liberties and rights.
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