Eight years ago a young Muslim woman in Jordan named Dalia was stabbed to death by her father because she’d fallen in love with Michael, a Catholic in the Jordanian army. When Dalia’s father found out about their meetings, he stabbed her 12 times, and waited to make sure she was dead before calling an ambulance. Since it was an “honor killing,” the father wasn’t prosecuted. Articles 340 and 98 of the Jordanian penal code sanction honor killings and excuse the perpetrators.

Now Dalia’s best friend Norma Khouri, who moved to Australia, has written a book about it. She says, “In Jordan this is something that you hear about all the time. You’re taught about it as you’re growing up. Women in Jordan are seen as property of their families. Their chastity represents the family’s reputation, the family’s honor. If a woman has done anything that they can interpret as having tarnished her reputation, they see it as their duty to kill her.

“Ninety percent of the cases that occur are based on just rumor and suspicion,” she says. “So 90% of the women that are killed are still virgins at the time of death. The United Nations estimates that 5,000 women a year are killed in this way.”

Civilizations always have been?and will always be?barbaric. But ancient civilizations contain sublime secrets too.

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