Jordanians call for execution of man who killed his 14-year-old sister for joining Facebook

Jordanians call for execution of man who killed his 14-year-old sister for joining Facebook
The Jordanian teen is the latest victim of femicide in the conservative Middle Eastern kingdom, after being stabbed over a Facebook account.
3 min read
10 May, 2020
'Honor killing' is the intrafamily slaughter of allegedly 'errant' women [Getty/ Liaison agency
Jordanians are publicly calling for the execution of a man arrested for stabbing his 14-year-old sister to death after she created a Facebook account using his phone.

The Jordanian man, reportedly in his twenties, was detained on Wednesday by the Amman police after Criminal Court Prosecutor Salah Taleb warranted his arrest and called for further investigations.

In a public statement, a media spokesperson for Jordan's Public Security Directorate said the brother stabbed her inside their home in the south of Amman.

A preliminary report by the forensic doctor who examined the body found the teen girl had bled to death on Wednesday after being stabbed in the back.

The girl's brother was arrested and "confessed to the crime," the police said, adding that he was charged with "intentional killing." The statement did not specify the degree of murder.

The perpetrator, who was not named, is being detained at a rehabilitation facility, according to the Jordanian police.

A security source told Jordanian news agency Khaberni on Friday that the killer, 25, had stabbed her for using his phone to open a social media account.

Since the news broke out in Jordan, residents have been calling for the killer's execution in social media posts.

A hashtag in arabic, which translates to 'we demand the execution of the sister's killer' was tweeted out over 19 thousand times by Sunday, becoming one of the top trends in Jordan this week.

"It's extremely unfortunate, but for me the hashtag is symbolic. I know he will not be executed, but does this mean we should stay quiet and not express out anger? No, let people know there are those calling for this," Reem Saiff, a Amman-based feminist said in a tweet.

Taliaat al-Ordon, a Jordanian movement combatting violence against women, condemned the "henious crime."

"She did not even complete the 14 years of her life, and was the victim of outdated ideas on what women should do, that women are the "honor of the family," that women are 'shame,'" the group said on its Facebook.

Malek Alhendi, who identified himself as the cousin of the teen girl and her killer, said in a Facebook comment that the girl "died after her brother threw a knife at her from a close distance" during an argument "between siblings".

The comment was met with criticisms from Jordanians who raised concerns over the normalisation of violence and the use of a knife in an argument, "even if there is no intent to kill".

The New Arab tried reaching Alhendi for comment, but did not receive a response in time for publication.

Read also: In-depth: Why women activists are taking gender-based violence into their own hands

"Normal? Since when do these things happen between siblings? How did he not expect her to die?" one person said in response. 

While some local outlets picked up the news, feminists said there had been a lack of media coverage by mainstream Jordanian outlets despite the outpour of anger on social media. Jordanians also called on the state-funded Al Mamlaka TV to cover the news.

'Honour killings' of women by their male family members are often underreported in Jordan, due to internal cover-ups. Because of this, local women’s rights organisations have pointed to the lack of reliable statistics on femicide.  

Jordan's penal code – amended in 2017 – states that a "fit of fury" defense does not apply to perpetrators of crimes against women, meaning suspects cannot receive mitigated sentences. 

According to the Human Rights Watch 2020 report, judges continue to issue mitigated sentences if family members of the victim stand by the male family member involved in the killing.

Gasia Ohanes is a journalist with The New Arab.

Follow her on Twitter: @GasiaOhanes