Lebanon recently held a two-day conference to explore the problem of so-called honor killings in that country. In an honor killing a woman who has allegedly disgraced her family’s honor is killed by her husband or other close male relative. Such murders are still an all-too common affair in some countries.
In Lebanon, for example, lawyers speaking about the topic estimated that about one woman per month is killed as part of an honor killing (typically for allegedly committing adultery or engaging in pre-marital sex). Technically Lebanon’s legal code was modified in 1999 to outlaw the practice, but many men in the country believe that they will not suffer any legal penalty for such killings.
In addition, men who commit honor killings are allowed to use that as a mitigating circumstance in their trial. A man convicted of an honor killing might receive only a few months in jail.
Honor killings are a big problem in countries such as Pakistan and India where, as in Lebanon, they are technically illegal but prevailing customs mean judges and juries look the other way and let perpetrators of honor killings off with light sentences.
Fortunately there are a growing number of women and men in these countries starting to stand up and demand an end to this hideous practice.
Beirut hosts ‘honour killing’ conference. Kim Gattas, The BBC, May 13, 2001.