Friday, June 09, 2006

Syria Campaign againt "honor killings" of women

Inquiry and Analysis Series - No. 280
June 7, 2006

A Syrian Government Media Campaign Against ‘Honor Killings’
By H. Avraham, Research Fellow at MEMRI.

The September 2005 murder of a young Druze woman, Huda Abu 'Asali, by members of her family because of her marriage to a man outside of her ethnic group, sparked a wave of outraged reaction throughout Syria against the phenomenon of "honor killings" of women by their male relatives. The independent Syrian website "Syrian Women" ( ) launched a sweeping campaign, under the slogan "Stop the Murder of Women, Stop the 'Honor Crimes!'" [1] and posted numerous articles by Syrian Muslim and Christian clerics as well as by attorneys, intellectuals, and ordinary citizens. As part of the campaign, the site posted a petition calling for a stop to honor killings. To date, nearly 10,000 people have signed this petition, most of them from Syria.

The main goal of the campaign is the amendment of Articles 548, 239, 240, 241, and 242 of the Syrian penal code, which grant immunity or a significantly reduced sentence to a man who murders a female relative. [2]

A few months later the Syrian government press joined the campaign. The Syrian daily Teshreen published several harsh articles stating that honor killings were the product of "historical backwardness" and calling for changes in both the Syrian penal code and the school curricula. The Syrian government daily Al-Thawra published a special investigation of honor killings, which found that over 40 honor killings took place every year in Syria. The investigation also included comments by Syrian attorneys and clerics, who said that murder is forbidden by all religions and that the articles of the penal code permitting those guilty of murdering women to evade just punishment must be abolished.

Link to the MEMRI article: A Syrian Government Media Campaign Against ‘Honor Killings’

[1] "Syrian Women" is an independent Syrian website dealing with social issues, particularly issues concerning discrimination against women and violence against women and children in Syria. Also participating in the site's campaign are other websites and organizations that work for society, human rights, women's rights, children's rights, and the like, from both inside and outside Syria. These include the Arab Organization for Human Rights in Syria, the National Organization for the Advancement of the Role of Women, the Democratic Youth Organization in Syria and the independent-leftist website Al-Hiwar Al-Mutamaddin. Other participants in the campaign include Syrian newspapers and periodicals, such as the youth paper Shabablek and Al-Nour, the organ of the Syrian Communist Party

[2] Article 548.1 of the Syrian Penal Code states that anyone who surprises his spouse, his sister or any other relative committing adultery or illegitimate sexual acts with another person, and unintentionally kills or wounds one or both of them, benefits from exemption from penalty. Article 548.2 states that the perpetrator of homicide or injury shall benefit from a reduction in penalty if he surprises his spouse, his sister, or some other family member in a compromising situation with another. (Human Rights Watch ) Articles 239-242 state that there will be no punishment for the crime except in instances set out in law.


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