Human Rights Watch condemned the failure of the Jordanian Lower House to end impunity for men who murder female family members in the name of preserving the "honor" of the family.
"For too long, men in Jordan have been getting away with murder," said Regan Ralph, executive director of the Women's Rights Division at Human Rights Watch. "This vote is a slap in the face of Jordanian women who have been organizing to stop the killings." Since August 1999, women's and human rights activists have gathered over 13,000 signatures calling for an end to honor killings. An estimated 25-30 women are killed in Jordan every year to protect family "honor."
This is the second time in two months that the Jordanian Lower House has failed to abolish Article 340 of the Penal Code, which provides for lenient sentences when men kill their female relatives in the name of "honor." Parliamentarians justified their defense of honor killings as protection of Jordan's traditional and moral values against western influences. The Upper House last month had agreed to abolish Article 340. The Upper and Lower Houses will meet for a final vote before the end of the parliamentary session in March.
Jordan is a signatory to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, both of which proscribe discrimination based on sex. The UN Committee on Eliminating All Forms of Discrimination Against Women criticized yesterday Jordan's performance on "honor" crimes.
Human Rights Watch further called on the Jordanian parliament to provide protection for women threatened by their family members on the basis of "honor," and to abolish other laws that discriminate against women, including the rape law, citizenship law, passport law, and social security law.