Following are excerpts from an interview with Syrian women's rights activist Bassam Al-Qadhi, which aired on Al-Dunya TV on February 11, 2009:
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"The Problem With Us is Not That We Kill [Women], While Others Do Not - The Problem is That We Reward the Killer"
Bassam Al-Qadhi: "The killing of women because they are women is a worldwide phenomenon. The problem with us is not that we kill [women], while others do not. The problem is that we reward the killer. This is where the difference lies.
"In Europe or America, someone might kill his wife because he suspected she was having an affair with a neighbor, for example. He might kill her, but he will stand trial as a murderer, and he will go to jail. He will not receive a legal certificate of good character, saying that he was 'defending his honor.'
"The problem with us is that we give a certificate of good character for this, that we say to him: 'Off you go. You can enjoy your life, because you killed your wife, your daughter, or your sister.' This is the fundamental difference, and this is what we are trying to change." [...]
"Since We Started In September 2005... We Have Not Encountered Even a Single Crime Perpetrated on the Spur of the Moment Because Of the Women's Sexual Conduct"
Al-Qadhi: "Since we started in September 2005 and to this day, we have not encountered even a single crime perpetrated on the spur of the moment, because of the women's sexual conduct. All the crimes were perpetrated because a girl had married someone her family did not approve of, or someone from a different sect or religion, or else because they wanted to rob her of her share of the inheritance.
"Many women in Syria are murdered under the false pretext of family honor, in order to rob them of their share of the inheritance, and thus, the men in the family would get hold of all the assets." [...]
"Because Of Articles 548 And 192 of the Penal Code, [A Man Who Perpetrates An Honor Killing] Gets Only Three Months to Three Years in Jail"
Al-Qadhi: It is sufficient for a man to say - as indeed happened in late 2008: 'My wife is a midwife, and she goes out at night to villages to deliver babies.' We all know that midwives in Syria have strong moral values. 'She is often absent. She must have a lover.' Even though he had no proof, he killed her. But the real reason was that she had saved a little money for her children from her hard work, and he wanted to get his hands on the money. This is a murderer. The law should treat him as a murderer, but because of articles 548 and 192 of the penal code, he gets only three months to three years in jail.
Interviewer: "The justice minister questions the veracity of your statistics and classifications, saying that the ministry does not have statistics on honor crimes, and that the penal code is one of the codes under review, as part of the policy of updating and improving the current laws, including those pertaining to honor crimes. He said that this requires preparation. Why don't you give them time?"
"Do We Need 10 Million Syrian Women to Be Killed Before We Face Up to the Problem?"
Al-Qadhi: "With all due respect to the justice minister, when it comes to murder, there is no need whatsoever for preparation. It is unnecessary to review national plans - such as the tenth five-year plan - in order to know that Syrian women will be murdered."
Interviewer: "Some committees are still working..."
Al-Qadhi: "But they have been doing so for years, and meanwhile women are being murdered.
Al-Qadhi: "To this day, the Syrian government has been very passive. The minister of social and labor affairs denounced [us], saying, in effect: Do 200 Syrian women [who are killed annually] merit all this commotion? If 200 Syrian women do not merit such a commotion, how many would you like? Do we need 10 million Syrian women to be killed before we face up to the problem?"