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Crime under the protection of Law

Zahra Ezzo, was a 16 years old girl, in 2005 she ran from her parents' house to Damascus-Syria. A civil community and juvenile correctional institution saw her and took her in. The supervisors in the institution sought to call her parents to comfort them and fix the relationship between the girl and her family. Zahra spent several months in the institution were she appeared to be a sharp and talented girl. Her family pledged that they will not do anything to her or hurt her in any way. Once, her brother was caught with a knife while he was trying to enter the institution, he claimed that he meant nothing. One of Zahra's relatives proposed to her and she got married to him after she got out from the juvenile. After few days from her marriage her brother visited her, he left her house and left his sister dead, stabbed several times, one in her nick.

Zahra brother wanted to wash the family's shame with her blood, this is what is called "honor crime". It is when a male member in a family suspects that the girl committed adultery. In many families especially in rural areas in Syria, the tribal traditions dominate the society and if a girl ran from the house then she sentenced herself to death. Though we can contemplate in the strange nature of some humans who are ready to slaughter their dearest, and we can be be chocked by the ugliness of the crime especially when a father or a brother or even a son kills his own flesh and blood, but we cannot forgive the fact that such practices are encouraged by the personal status law by giving the killer in honor crime case a mitigated sentence especially when the family does not want to lose two children one dead and the other in prison.

An unofficial survey in Syria satiated that every year about 200 women killed in honor crimes, in a flagrant statement by the former Syrian Minister of Labor and Social Affairs- surprisingly a woman- said that 200 women is not a big number. Such stand from an official in the government indicates that the government backs these horrifying acts and promote domestic violence and killing of women under the pretext of honor crime.

Article 548 (1949) in the Syrian personal status law states that who commits an honor crime will receive a reduced sentence; a reduced sentence is imprisonment for about 6 months. This article was slightly adjusted in 2009, calling to imprison the criminal at least for 2 years. However, article 192 (1949) in personal status law states that when there is an excuse then the criminal will be released, and the excuse here is honor, but when needed a correctional procedures will be applied except isolation (imprisonment). This law is not applied at women when they kill a husband caught in bed with another woman, she will receive a death sentence or at least life imprisonment.

The government in a country must carry out its expected duties by issuing minimum laws to protect its citizens and their interests, and ensure equality and justice. Such laws against women mean that the government perceive women are second level citizens, this in a country claims secularism and social justice. Although many activists demanded to change this law, their efforts went in vain, even the name of the crime was not allowed to be change because there is no honor in crime.

But the struggle must continue.


nasreenamina's picture


I am shocked for this kind of situations still ocurring in the world.Violence against women appear to be a way and an argument to keep us in silence. If something useful we can use revolutions for, is to improve the situation of those are being oppressed for laws or traditions.

One's life has value so long as one attributes value to the life of others, by means of love, friendship, indignation and compassion

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Mukut's picture

Sailing in the same boat

Dear Friend,

It is with extreme sadness and pain that i have to admit that 'honor killings' are quite common in my country too-India. These barbaric crimes against women have to stop immediately.

Thank You for sharing this.

Mukut Ray

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