Speaking on 20 September 2010 at 15th session of the UN Human Rights Council, IHEU representative Raheel Raza spoke of the plight of women being sentenced to death by stoning, or killed by family members in the name of “family honour” and the impunity that often accompanies these killings.
Here is her statement in full:
International Humanist and Ethical Union
UN HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL: 15th Session (13 Sept – 1 October 2010)
Speaker: IHEU Representative, Raheel Raza: Monday 20 September 2010
Item 4: Matters requiring the attention of the Council
Stoning and Honour Killing in Islamic States
The question of stoning and “honour” killing in some Islamic States is not whether such punishments are permitted or prescribed by Sharia Law, but whether they are permitted by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
We hear daily reports of women – and it is almost always women – condemned to death by stoning or of young women being murdered by the families in some utterly misguided belief that they are protecting family honour.
We recognize that honour killing is not confined to Muslims, but what is particularly shocking is that, after murdering a sister or daughter, these criminals are walking away scot-free because the Islamic law of Quisas (or retribution) allows the heirs to pardon the murderer – so the father, for example, can pardon a son who kills his sister.
For too long, Mr President, States have hidden their barbaric practices behind religious justification. And it seems that such practices are actually on the increase.
Mr President, as a Muslim woman I can say that religion cannot – and must not – be used to trump human rights: and above all, the right to life.
This Council must now accept its responsibility to unequivocally condemn these practices: not only stoning and “honour killing”, but the culture of impunity and religious justification that encourages such barbarity – wherever it may occur.
It is surely time, Mr President, that a resolution on these issues was introduced into the Council. Which member states will finally grasp this nettle – however unpopular it may be with the dominant culture here?
Thank you, sir.