Murder in the Name of Honor: The True Story of One Woman's Heroic Fight Against an Unbelievable Crime
Rana Husseini is a journalist from Jordan, and in Murder in the Name of Honor, she writes of the aftermath and trauma of honor killings in Jordan and around the world that she has researched and witnessed. Honor killings are defined as the murder of a woman by a family member(s), usually a man or men, because the woman has in some way brought dishonor upon the family. Some of the examples of dishonor, and reasons for death, include rape, marrying without permission, leaving home, falling in love, or even the rumor of impropriety. In some countries, including her home country of Jordan, the punishment for the murderer is generally quite lenient, under five years in prison. While some believe that honor killings only take place in Jordan and neighboring countries, in fact, there is a disturbingly large number of killings that take place in the Western world, including America.
Husseini has become determined to shed light on honor killings and to change the laws that allow those who commit the killings such lenient punishments. The book traces her journey of reporting and researching the crimes throughout the world. It is filled with touching and terrifying anecdotes, along with the challenges of trying to change minds and laws. Many “tribal” customs and courts support the killings; a family’s honor, but most particularly a man’s honor, is to be held in the greatest esteem. In the cases of these murders, a man’s honor is worth more than a woman’s life. Women going to the police or authorities can face disbelief or they are simply returned to their families, and it is the families that are the women’s worst enemies in these cases.
Husseini also addresses the challenge faced by such a polarizing and politicized issue; it can be easy to stereotype and assume; however, she makes it clear that not all men and women from Jordan (including Jordanian royalty), or other countries where honor killings are prevalent, believe that murder is honorable. With the interviews that she conducted with some of the murderers, many stated remorse and regret over the actions, but most state that they had no choice. It was something that had to be done. The book illuminates the problem for the complex and convoluted issue that it is, and it offers no easy solutions because there are none. I would have liked to know more about what could be done by the “everyday” reader: writing politicians, etc., though at her website, there are links for more reading and some sites with calls to action.