By S. Arshad, New Age Islam
26 December 2020
The prevalence of the 'custom' of honour killing in the Arab world, particularly in Egypt is indicative of the fact that tribal mentality still persists among the Muslims of the country even in the modern times.
In Egypt, girls are killed in the name of salvaging family honour which is tainted due to the slightest act of 'immodesty' of the girl. They have their own definition of modesty and immodesty. For example, a girl was killed because her neighbour reported to her father that she was laughing aloud in the street. Girls are also killed when they are seen with their boyfriends. A girl was killed by her father because she received a phone call from a boy. A girl was killed by her father and her brother after they found her in a compromising position with her boyfriend.
Killing a girl only on suspicion is not supported by the Quran or Hadith. The Quran and Hadith ask Muslims not to form an opinion about someone only on the basis of hearsay or unconfirmed reports, not to soeak killing someone.
But in Egypt, as also in other Arab countries, these Islamic teachings do not have importance to them when it comes to the family honour (sharaf). A girl is looked at with suspicion on coming home late or talking with her neighbourhood boy and is killed.
For the Egyptian men, the woman's virginity is the proof of her chastity. They are not aware of the scientific fact that a girl may lose her hymen during a sporting activity or due to fall or even due to heavy work at home.
In tribal areas of Egypt, during marriage celebrations, the men of the neighboorhood stand outside the bridal chamber. They are shown the sheet with blood of the bride to convince them that the brideg was a virgin. If she does not bleed, she is considered an adultress woman and the honour of the groom's family will be lost. So she will be killed.
Arab cultural law says that an immodest or unchaste woman corrupts the family blood and it can be cleansed or purified only by killing the immodest woman or girl. The spilling blood of the woman washes or purifies the family blood.
A woman was killed only because she did not bleed on the first night because she had an elastic hymen. It was not her fault but God had made her that way. However, the family had to save their honour (sharaf) and that was possible only when she would be killed.
If the family does not kill the immodest woman of her family, other girls of the family will not get married because no family will marry their daughters or sons into a family with a bad blood.
The Egyptian law is also tilted towards the male which shows leniency towards the perpetrators of honour killing. Article 237 of Egyptian Penal Code prescribes lenient punishment for men committing honour killing. Article 17 gives the judges the power of clemency with which they can reduce the punishment from 25 years to, say, six months. This is because the judges also come from the same society and are brought up in the same environment in which women are considered a sex object.
Sometimes a girl is killed for no fault of her. The father or the son-in-law impregnates her and she is killed to hide their sin and save the family honour.
The justice system is dependent on the police system. The judicial system cannot deliver justice to the victims if the police does not discharge its duty with honesty and in an unbiased manner. Unfortunately, the police in Egypt try to protect the killer family by registering the killing as suicide. Therefore, most of the honour killings are registered as suicides.
It would take centuries to change the centuries old tribal mindset of the Egyptian men. The Quranic teachings need to be propagated and circulated widely among the Egyptians to change their definition of Sharaf and their mindset towards their women and girls. The Islamic organisations should work for the cultural, religious and social reforms of the Muslim society instead of trying to establish an Islamic state without the Islamic spirit.
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