Sunday, October 26, 2008

Syrian Honor Crimes Laws

Syria's government is working to abolish lenient sentences for honor killings:
"Syrian leaders have recommended reforming laws under which criminals convicted of so-called 'honour crimes' get lenient sentences.

"The commission for family affairs – a government body – proposed the change last week at the end of a state-sponsored forum on honour crimes, the first of its kind in Syria. More than 100 civic, religious and government leaders as well as legal experts attended the conference in Damascus, which also drew support from the ministry of justice and the ministry of religious endowments.

"Under Syrian law, men who catch a female family member engaging in adultery or other 'illegitimate sexual acts', or even in a 'suspicious state', are exempted from the standard punishments for murder and assault. Those convicted of murders deemed to be honour killings face only six months to a year in prison.

"The conference called for the honour crime exemption to be eliminated from the statute books, so that individuals convicted of murder in honour-related crimes would face a minimum of 15 years in prison...

"Women’s groups estimate that close to 300 so-called honour killings are committed every year, most in rural communities."

The article quotes a few legislators as saying they believe the honor crime exemption should stand, as it is part of Islam. They are wrong. This is about local traditions of group honor, not religion, even if Islam shares the opposition to extramarital sex common to monotheistic religions.

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