It's 2017, but in countries across the Arab world, women are still murdered for "dishonoring" their families. 

This includes Jordan, an Arab country that records some of the highest numbers of so called honor killings every single year. 

How could "honor" and "killing" be part of the same phrase? What do people who commit such crimes perceive honor as? And why are there laws that still protect those who commit such crimes? 

These are a few of the questions that women, surviving victims, and activists fighting to end "honor" crimes continue to ask.

We spoke to a few of them and here's what they had to say: 

Not all "honor" crimes are officially recorded

According to Human Rights Watch, Jordan registers an estimated 15 to 20 "honor" killings each year.

They're crimes committed against women who are "seen as having transgressed social codes of honor."

However, speaking to StepFeed, Hala Abu Ajam, an activist at "Where do we stand?" (Ayn Naqif,) an NGO fighting to end honor crimes in the country, explained that in reality, the number is much higher than what is often recorded. 

"Published statistics aren’t always accurate, as most 'honor' crime cases do not reach courts and aren’t officially recorded. This is because in most areas of the country (mainly outside of the capital, Amman) the people who commit such crimes often bury the victim's body in a remote location before an investigation is even launched. If and when police are notified, most  perpetrators often claim that the victim had committed suicide," she said. 

What does honor really mean here anyway?

When asked what honor really means to people who commit such crimes, Abu Ajam said:

"We conducted several surveys for over two years and most people we interviewed stated that they understand 'honor' as a concept that only relates to women and that is mostly linked to their chastity and reputation."

"Male members of many families in the country believe that if their reputation is tarnished by a female, the only way to clear their name and get rid of the so called shame she has brought on to the family is to simply end her life," Abu Ajam explained.

What is considered immoral or unacceptable to those who commit such crimes? Abu Ajam said that it can be anything at all, even a simple rumor.

"In most cases I've come across, the victim is murdered simply because there were rumors circulating about her. It's never because she actually did anything that was considered immoral by her family," the activist stressed.

"I've also seen cases where a woman is killed for being spotted in a car with a male colleague/friend or for coming back home late one night. In all cases, and no matter what the reasons [are], there is nothing that justifies these horrific crimes against humanity," Abu Ajam added. 

Lana... the woman who escaped

"Lana," who chose to stay anonymous, told us a horrific story that happened within her own family.

Now living abroad along with her husband and two children, she goes back in time to 2005, the year she herself, escaped an honor killing. 

“The only crime I ever committed was falling in love. How could that even be considered a crime?” she asked. 

Lana was only 20 years old when she refused to wed a man her family had arranged for her to marry. 

Instead, she made the bold decision to run away with her now husband, a man she had fallen in love with a year earlier. 

“I kept the relationship secret for months, worried that my family would find out. I only told my sister and one other family member about it. I was too scared to even tell my own mother. I knew that what I was doing wouldn’t be accepted by our family because they’d already arranged my marriage to another man,” Lana explained. 

"I was trapped, all alone and desperate to find a way out," she added. 

A dangerous way out

That way out was decided upon on a winter night in 2005. 

"It was the only option left for us, we didn't know what else to do," she said. 

Lana met Khaled, who is now her husband, for a few minutes, and that's all the time it took for them to plan their escape. 

"My heart was beating so fast and I was just terrified, I knew that if anyone saw us together, it would all be done. We planned everything really quickly but decided not to tell anyone of it. I didn't even tell my sister, because I knew she would've tried to stop me." 

When asked why her sister would have tried to stop her from escaping an arranged/forced marriage Lana said: “Because she knew the consequences." 

“Things like this are never acceptable in our families, we belong to tribes and to them honor is everything, not even a human being's life is more valuable than honor,” she added.

After Lana and Khaled married, they fled the country together and have never been back since. 

"If I had ever gone back, they would've killed me," she said.

"Where's the honor in taking a human being's life?"

While Lana was lucky enough to escape death, many others haven't been so fortunate... Zeina is one of them. 

The 20-year-old was murdered by her brother in 2016 after he discovered that she had a mobile phone the family didn't know of. 

To him, that meant she must have been hiding a relationship from the family, and so, deserved death.   

Her best friend Leila spoke to StepFeed and shared the heartbreaking details. 

"Zeina was a beautiful, vivacious 20-year-old ... to this day, we all just can't believe the horrific way she was taken away from us," she said. 

"Her family thinks this is an 'honor' killing; they believe that her death restored the family's honor. But where's the honor in taking a human being's life?" Leila asked. 

"Something needs to change ... if it doesn't the lives of hundreds of other women will continue to be at risk," she added.  

Zeina's case wasn't the only one recorded in 2016. In fact, The Sisterhood, a Global Association that tracks women’s rights issues in the country, noted a 53 percent rise in such killings in that year alone. 

In 2016, the country also saw five honor killings take place in the space of one week.  

According to Human Rights Watch, "the spate of violence renewed attention to 'honor' killings in the country at the time." 

A few positive changes

In recent months, Jordan has made strides when it comes to amending/issuing laws that protect women from different types of violence and abuse. 

This includes the passing of a law that no longer allows rapists to escape punishment by marrying their victims. 

Earlier this week, the country's parliament also finally amended a controversial article that previously allowed 'honor' criminals to get reduced penalties. 

The amendment still requires approval from the country's upper house, which is commonly regarded as a mere formality.

Last year, and in yet another bid to curb the number of honor killings in the country, Jordan’s Iftaa department, which is responsible for issuing religious edicts, issued a fatwa banning them.

In an aim to send a message to the public that courts will no longer tolerate those who kill women in the name of family honor, a few judges have also issued landmark rulings in individual cases, imposing severe punishments on perpetrators of such crimes. 

More needs to be done

Even though positive changes have been made, Abu Ajam noted that those who commit honor crimes can still find ways to escape just punishment. 

This is because they can find legal loopholes in laws that have yet to be amended. 

"When a citizen is murdered (in any crime even if not related to honor), the victim's 'personal' right is immediately transferred to that victim's family," she explained. 

"When we talk about an 'honor' crime, the perpetrator and the victim usually hail from the same family and this is why more often than not we see families forsaking the victim's right - something that effectively reduces the perpetrator's sentence," she added. 

Abu Ajam also spoke about the country's 1954 Crime Prevention Law (also known as protective detention).

This law allows for the imprisonment of women who are at risk of being murdered by their families or those who have survived murder attempts. 

"We're talking about hundreds of women, lawyers, teachers, even doctors, who are incarcerated because they are at risk of being murdered," Abu Ajam said. 

According to the Jordanian activist, real change will only come about when these legal loopholes are tackled, when women no longer end up in jail if they survive an honor killing, and when an effective national strategy to stop these crimes is implemented.