Brother Suspected in Clan's Tenth Murder

Police suspect Ramle teen was kidnapped and murdered. She may be her clan's tenth “honor killing” victim in eight years.

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Maayana Miskin,

Two weeks ago, police announced that a young Arab-Israeli mother was missing from her home. On Monday, officers said they suspect the woman was murdered. Her brother Mohammed Abu-Ghanem has been arrested and is suspected of arranging for her to be killed.

Police say 16-year-old Dalia Abu-Ghanem had left her home after suffering abuse, apparently at the hands of her husband. She then disappeared, while her three-month-old daughter was left behind. Police have not found a body, but believe Dalia was killed. Her husband, who she married at age 14, is currently in prison for an unrelated offense.

If officers' suspicions are true, Dalia Abu-Ghanem will be the tenth female member of the Abu-Ghanem clan to be murdered in an “honor killing” in the past eight years. The clan numbers roughly 2,000 people.

So-called “honor killings” occur when Muslim men attempt to restore “honor” to their family name by killing relatives accused of violating the tenets of Islam. Many victims are women accused of acting immodestly by wearing clothes deemed immodest by their families or talking with men. Many others are murdered after accusing their husbands or other male family members of abuse.

Eight years ago, the missing woman and her siblings returned home from school to discover their mother's body. The mother, 30-year-old Naifa Abu-Ghanem, had been shot to death. Relatives told police that Naifa had filed a police complaint against her husband. Police suspected an “honor killing".

Less than three years ago, the victim's sister Shirihan was murdered by Walid Abu-Ghanem, one of the girls' brothers. Walid, then 26, murdered his then-16-year-old sister shortly after she was engaged to be married. Relatives attempted to hide evidence of the killing and first claimed Shirihan died after slipping in the shower, then said she had committed suicide.

Other Abu-Ghanem women murdered in “honor killings” include Hamda, Suzan, Zinat, Reem, Amira and Sabrin. Following the murder of 19-year-old Hamda in 2007, several female members of the Abu-Ghanem clan volunteered to testify against her brothers, Rashad and Kamil Abu-Ghanem. The key witness in the case later disappeared, and police believe she was murdered as well.

Police say they are largely powerless to prevent “honor killings” due to the lack of cooperation from victims' families and other witnesses. Families often side with the killer and refuse to testify or provide evidence, police say. While women who fear they are in danger of being killed are welcome in a number of government-run hostels for abuse victims, women are generally reluctant to flee to the shelters, and those who do often later return to their communities.






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