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Justice Denied in the Name of 'Honour':A Study of Honour Killing between Human Rights and 'Shari'a' in Egypt

El-Shehawy, Rasha (2009)
Department of Law
Abstract
Throughout the world, harmful traditions to women are carried out within the family, e.g., female genital mutilation, forced marriage and dowry murder. Honour killing practice is considered to be the extreme form thereof for its violent consequences on females' right to life. The practice refers to crimes directed toward women on the ground of gender&semic crimes 'whereby the family kills a female relative deemed to have defiled the honour of the family'. The concept of honour, being the motive behind the practice, is crucial to the understanding of honour killing. However, providing a concrete definition of 'Honour' is not possible, as the word refers to a powerful concept grounded by social perception about the idea of masculinity and... (More)
Throughout the world, harmful traditions to women are carried out within the family, e.g., female genital mutilation, forced marriage and dowry murder. Honour killing practice is considered to be the extreme form thereof for its violent consequences on females' right to life. The practice refers to crimes directed toward women on the ground of gender&semic crimes 'whereby the family kills a female relative deemed to have defiled the honour of the family'. The concept of honour, being the motive behind the practice, is crucial to the understanding of honour killing. However, providing a concrete definition of 'Honour' is not possible, as the word refers to a powerful concept grounded by social perception about the idea of masculinity and the historical male domination over women. Nevertheless, the concept is understood as 'the good reputation of man or family in the surrounding society'. The concept further portrays women embodying the honour of men and therefore the interference within her private life to control her sexuality comes as an inalienable consequence. The interference can have many forms, e.g., interference with her choice to marry, physical assaults and the extreme form is honour killing. Moreover on consequences, the concept of honour and the non-codified rules of conduct imposed by the society to the end of preserving honour, can sometimes drive women to commit suicide after being considered dishonoured by the society, for instance in case of rape. The crimes occur among societies that still suffer from domination over women, e.g., Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen, Morocco and other Mediterranean and Gulf countries. It also takes place in countries such as Germany, United Kingdom, and France within the migrant communities. Egypt is amongst the countries where the practice is tolerated by society and the perpetrator is deemed a real 'man' who stood for his honour and cleaned the shame by shedding the blood of a close female. Beyond tolerating the practice, society views the killing as an inalienable penalty of breaching its social norms and thus condemns the victim and pays respect to the killer. As to the national legal system, the practice is codified implicitly through two provisions contained in the penal code, which is closely examined in the research. Although honour killing is not limited to Muslim societies, it occurs widely therein. Bearing this in mind, together with the fact that most Islamic countries lodged a reservation to many CEDAW provisions invoking Islamic 'Shari'a', renders the latter a potential ground to justify the killing. Moreover, the culture and gender construction of society may play another potential ground. Therefore, we are before two potential grounds for honour killing: culture and 'Shari'a'. In this context, both are investigated in the research. To this end, this study investigated the UN framework to honour killing as a preliminary matter to understand the universal perception and treatment of the problem in the light of equality and prohibition of discrimination norms. The study moves further, to examine 'Shari'a' basic concepts and approach to criminal justice with special focus on the treatment of sexual crimes and the exceptional burden of proof stipulated therein. Having done that, the next chapter provide an overview of the research problem in the national context, the two legal provisions used to mitigate the sentences over crimes committed in the name of honour are investigated, and the hierarchy of legal sources and status of 'Shari'a' besides international convention therein are illustrated. As the study moves towards its end, the fifth chapter provides an analysis of honour killing between culture and 'Shari'a', illustrating the interplay between human rights and 'Shari'a', leaving culture as the sole ground for honour killings. Finally, the last chapter contains some recommendations to tackle the problem and eradicate honour-killing practice. (Less)
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author
El-Shehawy, Rasha
supervisor
organization
year
type
H2 - Master's Degree (Two Years)
subject
keywords
International Human Rights Law
language
English
id
1555455
date added to LUP
2010-03-08 15:24:02
date last changed
2010-03-08 15:24:02
@misc{1555455,
  abstract     = {Throughout the world, harmful traditions to women are carried out within the family, e.g., female genital mutilation, forced marriage and dowry murder. Honour killing practice is considered to be the extreme form thereof for its violent consequences on females' right to life. The practice refers to crimes directed toward women on the ground of gender&semic crimes 'whereby the family kills a female relative deemed to have defiled the honour of the family'. The concept of honour, being the motive behind the practice, is crucial to the understanding of honour killing. However, providing a concrete definition of 'Honour' is not possible, as the word refers to a powerful concept grounded by social perception about the idea of masculinity and the historical male domination over women. Nevertheless, the concept is understood as 'the good reputation of man or family in the surrounding society'. The concept further portrays women embodying the honour of men and therefore the interference within her private life to control her sexuality comes as an inalienable consequence. The interference can have many forms, e.g., interference with her choice to marry, physical assaults and the extreme form is honour killing. Moreover on consequences, the concept of honour and the non-codified rules of conduct imposed by the society to the end of preserving honour, can sometimes drive women to commit suicide after being considered dishonoured by the society, for instance in case of rape. The crimes occur among societies that still suffer from domination over women, e.g., Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen, Morocco and other Mediterranean and Gulf countries. It also takes place in countries such as Germany, United Kingdom, and France within the migrant communities. Egypt is amongst the countries where the practice is tolerated by society and the perpetrator is deemed a real 'man' who stood for his honour and cleaned the shame by shedding the blood of a close female. Beyond tolerating the practice, society views the killing as an inalienable penalty of breaching its social norms and thus condemns the victim and pays respect to the killer. As to the national legal system, the practice is codified implicitly through two provisions contained in the penal code, which is closely examined in the research. Although honour killing is not limited to Muslim societies, it occurs widely therein. Bearing this in mind, together with the fact that most Islamic countries lodged a reservation to many CEDAW provisions invoking Islamic 'Shari'a', renders the latter a potential ground to justify the killing. Moreover, the culture and gender construction of society may play another potential ground. Therefore, we are before two potential grounds for honour killing: culture and 'Shari'a'. In this context, both are investigated in the research. To this end, this study investigated the UN framework to honour killing as a preliminary matter to understand the universal perception and treatment of the problem in the light of equality and prohibition of discrimination norms. The study moves further, to examine 'Shari'a' basic concepts and approach to criminal justice with special focus on the treatment of sexual crimes and the exceptional burden of proof stipulated therein. Having done that, the next chapter provide an overview of the research problem in the national context, the two legal provisions used to mitigate the sentences over crimes committed in the name of honour are investigated, and the hierarchy of legal sources and status of 'Shari'a' besides international convention therein are illustrated. As the study moves towards its end, the fifth chapter provides an analysis of honour killing between culture and 'Shari'a', illustrating the interplay between human rights and 'Shari'a', leaving culture as the sole ground for honour killings. Finally, the last chapter contains some recommendations to tackle the problem and eradicate honour-killing practice.},
  author       = {El-Shehawy, Rasha},
  keyword      = {International Human Rights Law},
  language     = {eng},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  title        = {Justice Denied in the Name of 'Honour':A Study of Honour Killing between Human Rights and 'Shari'a' in Egypt},
  year         = {2009},
}