A father's ability to insert a knife in his daughter's heart will forever remain an inhumane mystery for many (let alone a brother's, son's, or husband's ... and in some cases a mother's or wife's). These so-called "honor crimes" or "honor killings" are common in the Arab region, and are thought to "help" protect a man's or family's "honor" by delivering the blood of the victim who dared go against their "norms."
Egypt witnessed its latest - or at least the most recent case to get media coverage - "honor killing" horror story when a man lost his temper at the sight of his 16-year-old daughter with her boyfriend. This man, who did everything but be an actual father to his daughter, stabbed her and the man she was with to death. Not even weeping or regretting his horrendous actions after the murder, he carried the lifeless bodies and threw them off the balcony of the Damanhor city's house.
He eventually surrendered himself - the man has "honor," after all - and admitted to killing both his teenage daughter and her 24-year-old boyfriend after returning home in the early hours of dawn and walking in on them. His accomplice was his own son. What the couple was doing remains unconfirmed.
What makes things even better are the headlines the dear press in the region publish: "He came back home at dawn and saw her in his lap/arms ... a father slaughters his daughter and her lover in Bouhaira." What beautiful words - and rumors - are used to commemorate the loss of a soul to "temper loss" and "honor killing."
Yes, the case was referred to Egypt's public prosecution office, and the father and son might get a sentence ... but it might be reduced. According to Egypt's Penal Code and Article 237, "whoever surprises his wife in the act of adultery and kills her on the spot together with her adulterer-partner shall be punished with detention instead of the penalties prescribed in Articles 234 and 236."
The latter articles go as follows:
Article 234: Whoever kills a person deliberately without premeditation, shall be punished with permanent or temporary hard labor. However, the perpetrator of this felony shall be sentenced to death, if preceded, accompanied with, or followed by another felony. Yet, if the intent thereof is to prepare for committing or facilitating a misdemeanor, or committing it in effect, or assisting its perpetrators or their accomplices to escape or get rid of the penalty, the ruling shall be sentencing to death, or permanent hard labor. Capital punishment shall be the penalty if the crime is committed in execution of a terrorist purpose.
Article 236: Whoever wounds or beats someone on purpose or gives him harmful materials without meaning thereby to kill, but doing that has led to death, shall be punished with hard labor or imprisonment for a period of three to seven years. However, if doing that is preceded with premeditation or ambush, the penalty shall be hard labor or imprisonment. The punishment shall be temporary hard labor or imprisonment, if the crime is committed in execution of a terrorist purpose. If it is preceded with malice or premeditation, the penalty shall be permanent or temporary hard labor.
What final sentence might the two men get is yet to be revealed.
Some people online had the audacity to defend the man's actions, revealing the alarming fact that "honor crimes" are still widely accepted in communities across the Arab world.
One research points out the rise of such crimes in Egypt, especially in rural areas. In 2018, another (great) father murdered his daughter because she allegedly cheated on her husband. He killed her in a busy street as well.
It's not just Egypt. Other Arab countries also house such behavior and mentalities. Honor killings, or crimes committed against women who are "seen as having transgressed social codes of honor," are still a major problem in countries like Jordan and Syria.
While many of these crimes go unreported because they're often committed by a close relative of the victim, some of them get widespread media attention. Recent cases of honor killings that shook the Arab world include one of a man who murdered his sister in Abu Dhabi because he had "suspicions" over her behavior.
In another horrendous "honor killing" reported last year, an Iraqi newlywed was killed because her husband suspected she was not a virgin. She just had an elastic hymen, but he thought it was "loose" and thus killed her. The victim died because she had no control - and was probably not even aware - over how she was born.
While several Arab countries have taken legislative action in a bid to end the barbaric practice, there's much more to be done in societies where many continue to justify violence against women.
Women's rights activists in the region have also recently noted that there are several legal loopholes still available to those who commit honor crimes. Activists state that one of the main reasons behind this is the lack of implementation of laws that criminalize such crimes.
Sarah Trad contributed to this article.