Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

No-Honor Crimes | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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A youth in his twenties in Riyadh murdered his two sisters, shooting them as they were being released from a Care Home for Girls where they had been illegally held after being caught in the company of an unrelated male. In my opinion this is a crime of ignorance and insanity, not an “honor” crime. This narrow-minded youth ended the lives of two human beings in a crime that does not carry as harsh a sentence as the crime committed [i.e. death].

I do not know under what bleak social circumstances the ignorant and backward psychology of this youth was cultivated, but I am aware that there is a narrow-minded community that continues to view women as a source of shame and scandal. Perhaps the youth in question grew up against such a backdrop. In any case it is ignorant in the extreme to believe that shame can be washed away by such a crime. The true shame lies in the lack of emotion shown by this youth towards his two sisters who did not deserve to die, but rather should have been protected and offered advice.

In my opinion, any leniency towards this youth with regards to his sentencing will only open the floodgates to this type of crime, and we will find ourselves in the midst of a cycle of ignorance where mistakes by girls are punished by death. Some regional countries have suffered from the proliferation of this type of crime, in other words crimes that are classified as “honor” crimes where the perpetrator is punished with the minimum sentence possible. Today the cries resound throughout these countries calling for sentences to be tightened in order to eliminate this type of crime.

Many questions have been raised in the face of such crimes, such as; is there a need to re-evaluate or redevelop the manner of dealing with girls in some cases, for example in cases where they are caught in the company of an unrelated male? Should the family reaction to this be taken into account?

How can an increase in mental health amongst the youth reduce these kinds of over-reactions? How can the school curriculum contribute to changing the viewpoint of women as a source of shame and scandal that is held by some youth, rather than dealing with them as human beings who have made a mistake?

Who of us has never made a mistake?

I am counting upon the Ministry of Education to correct these misconceptions [about women] as this should be its number one duty. The Ministry’s role in this case is to propagate hope and develop and change the traditions and customs that lead to crimes such as this being committed. Real change begins in school, especially as school plays an important role in contributing to the formation of one’s psychological outlook.