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Honour killings on the rise in Jordan despite increased global awareness

Despite increased global awareness of honour killings, more and more women in Jordan are falling victim to it.

AMMAN: Despite increased global awareness of honour killings, more and more women in Jordan are falling victim to it.

A study conducted by Cambridge University and published in June 2013 found that many Jordanian students still believe honour killing is morally justified, which means the fight to change perceptions and stop this crime is far from over.

Enam Alasha starts every day the same way. She meets women who are most in need of a friendly face, women who have no one else to turn to.

Enam does not judge. She listens to the stories of those around her and responds with the gentle words and understanding they lack at home.

This is because Enam works at Tadamon Shelter for Women, a place of refuge for Jordanian women who have been on the receiving end of violence and honour crime.

In honour crime, the victims, mostly women, are killed or attacked for being in a relationship that brings shame to their families or for refusing to marry a man of their parents choosing.

The crimes are often committed by family members, and the women who survive are usually cast out from their communities.

Enam said: "It’s a horrible experience for the young women who are victims of honour crimes. They will never feel safe in spite of all the precautions and promises. I’m sure that they aren’t able to talk.”

Every year, 25 women in Jordan are victims of honour killings. The Jordanian National Commission for Women is working to change this.

Asma’A Khader, an advocate at the Jordanian National Commission for Women, said: "We think that we have to gradually get rid of this practice and consider it a full crime, as it is murder. But it needs time because it’s related to the culture, traditions, habits and masculine mentality.”

The problem of honour killings is one of culture and society as much as law.

In the study by Cambridge University, researchers surveyed 856 secondary school students from Amman. They found that a third of Jordanian youth believe that honour crime is justified.

Rana Alhussani, a Jordanian journalist, said: "I think in this part of the world… certain people are clinched for sure to certain traditions and beliefs, and they think that women are responsible for their honour and reputation.”

In campuses across the country, there are a growing number of young women who are fighting against honour crimes and speaking up for those who are all too often silenced.

Honour crime is a growing global problem. Cultural expectations can take generations to overcome and require the courage of victims to speak out against their perpetrators who are often their families.

Jordan still has a long way to go, but young women are taking the first steps to freedom. 

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