We’ve discussed many of the significant long-lasting historic events that have fueled much of the patriarchal way of life in society, and today we’ll look at a couple more of those events before taking the plunge to discuss others more in-depth. For a look at historical events related to honor killings as far back as Hummurabi, Ancient Rome, and Ancient Israel, look back to part one and two of this series.
The twentieth century didn’t see much progress for women’s rights outside of developed nations. Saddam Hussein made a lasting impact on the Iraqi way of life when he allowed Article 3 of the Iraqi Penal Code to be passed into law. This article allowed outright murder of a female relative — by their male counterparts — when the family’s honor was called into question. This was one law that made honor killing socially acceptable, a stark contrast to other countries where honor killings are “overlooked” even when they are against the law.
At the same time in India, there is a notable spike in female feticide (or abortion).
One of the first steps in the right direction occurred in 2004, when Pakistan implemented the Criminal Law Act. This law was drafted specifically to allow for and make easier the prosecution of individuals who have allegedly committed an honor killing. In addition, the same law bars the use of marriage (by essentially selling a daughter to another family) to settle a dispute. Unfortunately, the law had no visible impact on the actual number of honor killings.
What this means is simple: Even in countries where laws are drafted to help prevent honor killings and prosecute those people who commit these heinous acts, the crimes are simply ignored by law enforcement. Honor killings are still an “important” component in many Middle Eastern and African societies, and members of society are still willing to overlook them.