Palestinians see worrisome trend in 'honor' killings rise

Wed Dec 11, 2013 2:04am EST
Email This Article |
Share This Article
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
| Print This Article | Single Page
[-] Text [+]

By Noah Browning

AQQABA, West Bank (Reuters) - A silvery green olive grove set in the red soil of a Palestinian village is a crime scene - testament to a practice so sensitive that it is spoken of only in whispers.

One night in late November, Rasha Abu Ara, a 32-year-old mother of five, was beaten to death and strung from a gnarled tree branch as a gruesome badge of "family honor" restored.

The woman's alleged sin was adultery, and her killer was either her own brother or husband, security sources told Reuters. Both are behind bars while an investigation continues.

Her murder brought to 27 the number of women slain in similar circumstances in Palestinian-run areas this year, according to rights groups - more than twice last year's victims.

The rise has led Palestinians to question hidebound laws they say are lax on killers, as well as a reluctance to name and shame in the media and society, which may contribute to a feeling of impunity among perpetrators.

"It feels like something that belongs to another time," said one young man in Aqqaba who refused to give his name, the first hints of a beard on his chin. "But, it's standard."

A week after the crime, Aqqaba mayor Jamal Abu Ara, who is a member of the victim's extended family, and his brothers sat in their village home, smoking cigarettes and choosing their words carefully.

"This act has no religion - it comes from closed, tribal thinking left over from an age of ignorance. People here are walking around in a haze; they want to know who did it and why. Of course, it's the first time it's happened here," he said.   Continued...

Palestinian women stand in front of a mural depicting al-Aqsa mosque during a protest against the blockade on the Gaza Strip, in Gaza City November 19, 2013. REUTERS/Suhaib Salem