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Honour Killings in Palestine (Part B)
According to the Governor here's what happened next:
Faten decided to use an ancient formula for resolving disputes, known in Arabic as 'Tanebeh'. The idea is that woman in distress can appeal to a powerful tribe. Faten approached a Bedouin tribe in Jericho, who took her in. They asked her father to promise she would not be harmed. After he gave his word, she was returned home. Within days, she was dead. The governor is greatly troubled by her killing. It was he who looked up from the procession, and saw her face in the window.
48 hours later, and a half an hour's drive away, two sisters were killed -- this time in a Moslem home. Police believe this was another so-called 'honour killing'. The victims were a 20-year old called Amani and her older sister Rodina, who was 27. Both were married and both had apparently been strangled. A third sister was attacked but survived, and she's now in hospital.
We were turned away from the family home in the east Jerusalem neighbourhood of Jabal Mukkaber. No one there wanted to talk. One local claimed the head of the household had passed away, and the killings resulted from a dispute about inheritance rights. But the women's father is very much alive -- and now in jail, together with their Mother. Their brother, the key suspect in the case, is apparently on the run.
As he was taken into custody their father was asked what happened. He replied, calmly, that he came home to find that his son had killed his daughters. 'Why?' he was asked. 'Because they dishonoured the family,' he said. 'A married woman who goes with another man isn't good' he said, but added that he had told his son not to do it.
We know nothing of the final days of Amani and Rodina. Did they too know that death was coming ? Did they -- like Faten -- try to find a way out ? There would have been few escape routes available, even if they had gone looking.
In recent months there's been an increase in honour killings in the West Bank and Gaza. Women rights activists say they can't explain the upsurge. But there's been an increase in general lawlessness in Palestinian areas. And in male dominated conservative Palestinian society, a man commits an honour killing he may get off scott free.
Among the recent victims, 19 year old Yousra: shot dead in Gaza by gunmen from Hamas. Witnesses said they claimed to be from a morality squad. On the day of her death, Yousra shopped for her wedding dress, then sat on the beach with her husband to-be, her sister and her fiancée. What was Yousra's offence against morality? Her family denied she committed any. But on the way home, she was ambushed and killed.
In a jail in Nablus I once came face to face with the perpetrator of an honour killing. The local police chief had opened the cells, and summoned all those accused of murder. When they formed a line up -- there was an odd man out. Small, very young looking. I asked what he had done. The police chief told me he was 17, and had turned himself in after killing his sister.
Back in Ramallah, Faten lies buried in the Christian cemetery, in a rough grave, without even a headstone. Her father was released from jail for two hours to attend her funeral.