Bashar Assad, Syria’s president, has made it a bit harder for men to kill their daughters and sisters for the sake of “honour”. The crime had previously carried no minimum sentence; the maximum was a year. Now, a presidential decree has made a small but significant change: honour-killers must face at least two years in prison.
It is still common, in Syria and throughout the Middle East, for men to murder female relatives deemed to have besmirched the family’s moral standing—for example, if they have had sex outside marriage or wear immodest clothes. No one knows exactly how many women die in this way, because many cases go unreported. The United Nations Population Fund estimates that, across the world, as many as 5,000 women a year may be fatal victims.
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