People who say the monarchy is useless haven’t heard about this lady.
Queen Rania, who regularly appears without head-scarf, let alone hijab, has given her quiet support to women’s rights groups who want to change laws amounting to legal impunity for men involved in honour killings.
Standing against her is another symbol of the country’s attempts to show a progressive face. Jordan’s MPs, who have been given more power to hold the government and royal family to account than in other Arab countries, have shown little enthusiasm for the moves.
King Abdullah, Rania’s husband for 16 years, trained at Sandhurst and is said to speak better English than Arabic. The queen regularly appears in glossy celebrity magazines, and is one of the world’s best-known users of Twitter, updating followers with details of the latest Hollywood “chick-flicks” she has watched with her children.
For her, it is deeply offensive that the killing of women not only appears to be condoned, but seems to be on the rise: the number of deaths reported, currently between 20 and 25 a year, is increasing.
Sentences remain low, often as little as six months to three years in jail.
The government is introducing a special tribunal to hear honour killing cases, but a parliamentary alliance has so far blocked attempts to change two articles of the legal code. The first is article 340, which allows an “in flagrante” defence to a man who kills his wife and her lover if he finds them in bed together. It has only ever been used once. More important is article 98, a “crime of passion” defence, which is commonly used and gives reduced sentences to those who claim they commit violence in the fury of the moment.
The government wants a minimum penalty of five years even under this defence, but is coming under vociferous attack.
“We are not for taking the law into your own hands,” said Sheikh Hamza, an affable, white-bearded man who is among the government’s more measured critics. He insists that Sharia, or Islamic law, does not support honour killings.
“But we believe there are political forces which stand behind this issue, and they are trying to destroy the family.”
I’m sorry. Is he saying that lending support to groups who pursue stronger sentences for men convicted of killing their wives or sisters in the name of “honour” amounts to “trying to destroy the family”? Oh, sure. I buy that.
I say, you go, Queen Rania!
(Visit her YouTube channel here.)by