In her book, Rana Husseini recounts how she broke the silence around ‘honour’ killings in Jordan in the early 1990s, starting a national campaign to reform related laws, and laying the foundation for simultaneous international campaigns against VAW. A sample chapter is attached, courtesy of publishers, One World Publications.
The personal accounts in the book give a vivid insight into the reality of ‘honour’ killings and bear witness to the devastating effects of legal systems which permit and justify such crimes. The initial focus on Jordan is expanded to other countries and to migrant communities in Europe and North America, as well as the most recent case of an attempted ‘honour’ killing in Italy, where more precise and updated legal information would have been appreciated. This wider perspective helps the reader to understand that ‘honour’ killings find no legitimacy in religion, and tries to undermine notions of ‘cultural relativism’ which tend to justify these crimes in western societies. Indeed, a common pattern is revealed throughout the stories of Kifaya, Duaa, Allak, Fadime, Bruna, and Tina, showing the extent to which societal pressures play a major role in Jordan, Iraq, Turkey, as well as in Sweden, Italy and United States, deciding if a person deserves to die. Family ‘honour’ is the honour of the wider community and an absurd ideal which blinkers minds and hardens people’s hearts.
Murder in the name of Honour is an interesting read even for those who have no background in the topic. The book is challenging because it sheds light on the unknown side of these crimes, and demands specific changes in both laws and mentality, holding out hope for the reform of national and international laws and for more humane societies.
Rana Husseini is an investigative reporter for the ‘Jordanian Times’, and the recipient of the Human Rights Watch Award (2000), among other prestigious awards.
Review by Chiara Maurilio