'This act has noreligion'(archives) Photo:Panet website
. , . A week after the crime, Aqqaba mayor Jamal Abu Ara, who is amember of the victim's extended family, and his brothers sat intheir village home, smoking cigarettes and choosing their wordscarefully. "This act has no religion - it comes from closed, tribal thinking leftover from an age of ignorance. People here are walking around ina haze; they want to know who did it and why. Of course, it's thefirst time it's happened here," he said. His brother added: "Islam requires you have four witnesses toprove the act of adultery. "It's not right what happened. Especially since if it were a man,some would just say 'boys will be boys'," he said. A representative of the slain woman's family declined to speak toReuters. "Honor killing" is a social menace that occurs throughout theMiddle East, though precise figures are often elusive. In neighboring
, for example, a Cambridge Universitysurvey of attitudes among young people published in June foundthat a third of respondents agreed with the practice. The researchers attributed the result to low levels of educationand "patriarchal and traditional world views, emphasis placed onfemale virtue and a more general belief that violence againstothers is morally justified." The study estimated an average of 15 to 20 such killings occur every year in Jordan, with a population of around 6.3 million,compared to around 4 million in Palestinian lands.
Some activists believe the rise in honor killings indicates socialand economic problems are mounting in the territories, wherePalestinians exercise limited self-rule but
holds ultimatesovereignty, including over commerce. But Soraida Hussein, whose rights group Muntada tallied thisyear's killings, said the practice also has deep roots. "There is no balance in power relations between the genders.There is a patriarchal mentality...as always, the force andpressure in society is transferred from the strong to the weak,"she said. Palestinian female participation in the labor force stands at 17percent, a figure the World Bank called "abysmally low," notingthat employers appeared to favour men, among whom joblessness was almost a third lower in 2013. Hussein said that most of the killings related to "the movementand the freedom of the woman, so (perpetrators) say it's an'honor killing '... also, there's still no clear law to discourage thepractice."