Human Rights Heroes
Rana Husseini is an award-winning journalist in Jordan who has been instrumental in exposing “honor killings”, the murder of a woman by her own family members when she is raped or said to have participated in illicit sexual activity, said to “restore the honor” of the family. Husseini has worked tirelessly to to have honor killings prosecuted, with stronger criminal penalties, in a culture where the killings are granted near impunity.
Honor killings accounted for one-third of the murders of women in Jordan in 1999.
In the 1990s Husseini wrote a series of reports and launched a campaign to stop the killings. In spite of threats and defamation, her campaigns reached the country’s royal family. When King Abdullah ascended to the throne in Jordan in 1999, in his opening address to Parliament he cited the need for protection of women. In 2003 the king’s younger brother, Prince Ali, and cousin, Prince Ghazi, led a demonstration calling for harsher punishment for “honor” killers.
There is still work to be done. Passing of new laws has been slow, and as of 2013 one third of the youth in Jordan (one half of the boys and one in five girls) still support honor killings. But Husseini’s voice has been a vital one in breaking the silence and exposing this too often forgotten crime to the light of day.
Today she is a senior reporter at The Jordan Times and an advisor to the U.S. government funded human rights organization Freedom House. In 2009 she published a book on the subject, titled “Murder in the Name of Honour”.