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Kuwaiti man shaves sister’s head for receiving ‘flirtatious texts’

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A Kuwaiti man was stopped by police as he attempted to shave his sister’s head on the suspicion that she was behaving inappropriately on her mobile phone, reported al-Watan newspaper.

According to the newspaper the man, who was not named, went through his sister’s phone and found messages of a romantic nature which enraged him.

He began to shave her head as punishment and to “protect” his family’s honor, the Egyptian online newspaper Bikaya Masr quotes al-Watan as reporting.

The sister was able to call the police during her ordeal and they arrived and intervened.

Honor crimes are not unique to Kuwait, nor are their incidents restricted to the Arab world.

A Canadian man of Afghan descent is currently on trial in Toronto for the 2009 murder of his first wife and three daughters in a case of honor killings.

A German man of Lebanese descent shot his step daughter, Rola El-Halabi, a well-known boxing personality in Berlin last year because she was involved in a relationship with a non-Muslim.

There are many stories to illustrate that honor crimes are not restricted to one religion or nationality.

A Kuwaiti man slit the throat of his 14-year-old daughter in 2005 because he suspected her of having sex reported the BBC.

He is reported to have blindfolded and bound her before murdering her in front of her siblings.

Legal challenges

There are no reliable statistics on honor killing in Middle East and North Africa since many crimes go un-reported, or there are no specific laws around honor crimes.

Human and civil rights campaigners believe that despite the many improvements in social indicators like education and access to healthcare for women in developing nations, countries have yet to make strides in their legal systems that can tackle such crimes.

Last year, Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas ordered a change to the existing honor crime law saying that perpetrators should receive the strictest of punishments. This, according to Ma’an news agency, followed the publicizing of a story of a 20-year-old woman from Hebron whose uncle drowned her when she refused to marry a man of his choice.

The law is also murky towards them in several instances. Iran, for example, is forgiving of a man who kills his wife if he catches her committing an act of adultery and he is sure she was a willing partner in the crime, according to a book on women in developing nations by Karen Kinnear. In Lebanon a man who commits an honor crime can receive a reduced sentencing if he can convince a judge that the victim was involved in an “unacceptable” sexual relationship.

Jordan set up a special tribunal to address honor crimes which has passed strict sentences against violators but, writes Kinnear, it has not made changes to its “current statues to allow for better sentencing guidelines”. This means a judge can treat an honor crime as a crime of passion.

In Kuwait, honor crimes are illegal but the penal code allows the crime to be treated as a misdemeanor writes Kinnear.

Bikyamasr.com spoke to Mona Ghabrour, a Kuwaiti blogger, about the head shaving incident and she said: “The problem is that the woman is at fault because she affected the honor of the family by receiving the messages. It is ridiculous.”