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REUTERS PHOTOGRAPHER / REUTERS

“AYMAN”, A 38-YEAR-OLD MAN IN A JORDANIAN JAIL, KILLED HIS UNMARRIED TEENAGE SISTER AFTER HE FOUND OUT SHE HAD A SEXUAL RELATIONSHIP WITH A MAN. “AYMAN”, WHOSE NAME HAS BEEN CHANGED, SAYS HE HAS NO REGRETS OVER THE “HONOR KILLING” OF HIS SISTER AND EXPECTS A JAIL SENTENCE OF LESS THAN A YEAR FOR THE KILLING. HIS GRATEFUL MOTHER THANKED HIM AND VISITS HIM REGULARLY IN JAIL, WHERE HE ONLY EXPECTS TO BE KEPT FOR A FEW MONTHS.

Over the last 15 years, with the support of her editors at the Jordan Times, Husseini has continued to break the self-imposed censorship of Jordan’s media regarding honor crimes, reporting on each one she uncovered and later writing follow-up articles alerting readers to the leniency of the courts toward the killers. Husseini was the only reporter in Jordan to cover honor crimes before the issue reached the international stage, and she since has won several national and international awards, including the 1995 MEDNEWS prize award for best article “Murder in the Name of Honor,” the Reebok Human Rights Award in 1998, the Human Right’s Watch Award in 2000 for being part of the National Jordanian Committee to Eliminate So-called Crimes of Honor,The Ida B.Wells award in 2003 for Bravery in Journalism (WomensENews), Marie Claire’s Top Ten Woman of the World Award in 2004, and the Spanish Ciutat de L’Hospitalet Award for the Defense of Human Rights and Peaceful Coexistence in 2005. Perhaps more importantly, stories that had been previously reported simply as “murders” are now appropriately defined and reported on as “honor killings.” Due to your reporting, you have become one of the most reliable sources of information on honor crimes in Jordan, and have helped to bring international attention to the debate on honor killings and how Jordanian law supports the killers. What made you decide to write the book? I am working to produce something accurate, objective, and comprehensive. In the book I talk about the problem in Jordan, about the problem worldwide, about the roots of these crimes, the social factors behind them, about the issue from all its aspects—religious, social, legal. I am hoping it will be the most comprehensive reference book on the topic, putting the problem into perspective with recommendations as to what can be done both locally and internationally to minimize the cause of the problem. Can you define honor killing? A so-called honor crime occurs when the family of a female decides to kill the female relative because, in their point of view, she has tarnished her family’s reputation or honor. The tarnishing can be represented by many actions. One

is that the female becomes pregnant out of wedlock, she is a victim of rumor, incest, rape, or she wants to marry a man of her own choice. Sometimes she is killed for financial reasons. The woman has assets and the family member or members want her to give it up or get it as inheritance. Sometimes she is killed just for talking to a strange man, or being caught in a brothel, or engaging in a relationship. Many times she is found to be a virgin. One of the first stories you covered was that of an honor killing. This event seems to have directed your life ever since. Exactly. That story was very horrifying to me because the girl was only 16 years old. At that time I had no idea about these crimes or thought that I would be covering these crimes. I wanted to work for women, but I never thought I’d be working on honor crimes. The story was really shocking. A 16-year-old school girl was killed by one of her brothers after another brother had raped her. A victim maybe six times, she was raped, her [rapist] brother tried to kill her, she survived, then they married her off to a man 35 years her senior, she had a secret abortion, and then her family killed her. Look how many times she was a victim, and she was only 16. An intellectual Jordanian woman who worked in a high position and had studied abroad called the newspaper screaming that they should stop me from reporting on these crimes because I was tarnishing the image of Jordan. I became even more enraged. I went to talk to the girl’s uncles and they blamed the girl for the rape. I felt that society blames the woman for everything. I wanted to be “her” voice because at that time nobody was reporting about these crimes.When there were reports, they were so very small you could barely find them in the newspapers. It was taboo to write about these killings in the 1990s. How did you get permission to write about them? The Jordan Times was different. Published in English, their readership is not as large [as other newspapers] but at the same time we are much more liberal in terms of what we write. We have more liberty. All the editors-in-chief at the paper have always been pro human rights and want to promote anything that could be considered a violation of human rights in Jordan. I have had five 4/08 CHRONOGRAM NEWS & POLITICS 27

Chronogram - April 2008  

A regional magazine dedicated to stimulating and supporting the creative and cultural life of New York's beautiful Hudson Valley. - April 20...

Chronogram - April 2008  

A regional magazine dedicated to stimulating and supporting the creative and cultural life of New York's beautiful Hudson Valley. - April 20...

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