An eighteen year old girl named Maha decided she wanted to cease being involved in prostitution that her family insisted she pursue in order to earn money. Her brother killed Maha in the name of defending his family’s “honor” against her dishonor. It is difficult to ascertain the actual number of “honor killings” in Jordan but some estimate it might range between 15 to 20 a year. Maha’s brother was a drug addict who ran the family’s prostitution ring. After killing his sister, he turned himself in blaming his sister’s behavior for his need to kill her. The brother was sentenced to a two year jail sentence for the murder. Judge Jehad Oteibi, says many such “honor killings” are simply an excuse to cover up other factors.
Rights Watch believes 95% of women killed in Jordan in 1997 were subsequently proved not to have been guilty of any sexual misconduct. Their studies reveal male judges display more empathy for the murderer than to the female who is murdered. According to Article 340 of the penal code, a defendant who “surprises is wife or any close female relative” in an act of adultery may invoke a defense of “crime of honor” if they kill the woman.
One can only wonder if a woman has the right to invoke “honor killing” if she finds her husband in the act of adultery.