In Jordan, the state puts women who are at risk of honor crimes into “protective custody,” which often means prison without charge.
As per the BBC, an honor killing is “the murder of a person accused of bringing shame upon his or her family.” The act occurs worldwide but is particularly prevalent in Asia and Africa. An honor killing or crime — with violence but not murder — often occurs with young girls and women. Victims are sometimes “killed for refusing to enter a marriage, committing adultery or being in a relationship that [displeases] their relatives.” The origins of the act are believed to stem from tribal customs.
Jordan has one of the highest rates of honor crimes in the world. According to Human Rights Watch, around 15 to 20 women are reportedly killed each year in the name of family honor. As a countermeasure, Jordanian authorities place women and girls who are at risk into “protective custody.” This often means imprisonment without charge for an indefinite period of time. These victims are left with no choice but to accept their fate.
Under the law, which dates back some 60 years, around 65% of female inmates are detained for this reason. They can be incarcerated with drug addicts, thieves, murderers and prostitutes, according to one woman who spent 22 years in prison without charge.
Instead of being protected by the state, these women are effectively punished and remain in limbo. If they want to get out of protective custody, they either have to return to their violent families or choose the other exit strategy: an arranged marriage.
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