Jordanians demand justice for slain domestic violence victim Ahlam
Hundreds of protesters rallied in front of the Jordanian parliament calling for a change in the country’s penal code, which lends protection to those who commit "honour" killings against relatives - usually females - they believe have brought dishonour to their family.
Anger broke on Friday after a video circulated on social media showing Ahlam, a woman in her late 30s, being beaten to death by her own father using a brick as she desperately called for her mother to save her.
“We want a feminist revolution,” demanded women demonstrators en masse, as the hashtags #stopkillingwomenjordan and #Ahlam_Was_Betrayed flooded social media platforms.
"Yesterday it was Isra. Today it's Ahlam. Who will it be tomorrow?" read one placard, according to Roya News.
"No honour in the crime," and "Men of quality... don't fear equality!" read others.
The perpetrator in his 60s was drinking tea and smoking after the violent killing, witnesses claim, and was charged with the murder of his daughter on Saturday, according to the Jordanian outlet.
Ahlam, a divorced woman, had also suffered years of familial abuse from her own brothers, according to local media reports.
Around 15 to 20 women and girls are beaten, set on fire or stabbed to death every year by relatives because of so-called “honour” crimes, Human Rights Watch found in 2017. Since the start of 2020 there have already been nine murders of this kind.
Read also: How Covid-19 lockdowns are endangering vulnerable women across the Middle East
Petitions demanding changes to articles 98 and 99 of the Jordanian constitution, which reduce penalties for perpetrators claiming the “honour” crime defence, collected over 12,000 signatures.
“We cannot live in this era and this century with such horrific and unfair laws against Jordanian women,” Qais Ziadin, Member of the Parliament, told Roya News.
“Today, these young people are demanding change and asking the Jordanian parliament to change these laws."
Jordanian Princess Basma Bint Talal wrote on Facebook: "How many other women must die before adequate punitive steps are taken. There is no honour in honour killing and we can no longer look away."
MENA consultant at Equality Now, Suad Abu-Dayyeh, says the use of the term “honour killings” is misleading to the root of the lethal problem.
“These killings are a crime against a person, it is not what an honourable person does,” she told The New Arab.
“In Arab states women get killed because the mentality is that women should be submissive and there is a perception that women are not equal citizens and this is reflected in the penal code.”
She says that Jordanian infrastructure for survivors of domestic violence is inadequate, and a systematic change needs to happen on all levels in order to protect women.
“Usually these women that are killed had already tried to reach out to the police or a shelter, and sometimes they are detained in jail for their own safety. They should have access to shelters not jails in order to support them and to proceed with their lives. We lack professional services,” she said.
Read more: The screams of Ahlam: Harrowing honour killing in Jordan sparks movement for justice
Abu-Dayyeh added that due to the coronavirus outbreak, the Jordanian authorities are not giving importance to instances of domestic violence, which have seen an increase under the national lockdown measures, some of the strictest in the region.
“I think women's groups have to keep their voices loud, I'm worried their efforts will be forgotten otherwise. Due to Covid-19 lawmakers are not giving attention to anything else,” she says, pointing out that so far, pandemic has taken away only two more lives than domestic violence has this year.
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