KHF Outreach
'Code of Honor' Asks Hard Questions
22nd November 2008

The girl's head hangs in shame. But this is no ordinary shame. No temporary glitch in one's life to be overcome in time. This shame will end with the cleansing of the family honor: her death.

To stimulate discussion and raise awareness on the unjust and inhumane practice of so-called 'honor crimes', the interactive play 'Code of Honor' produced by the National Center for Culture and Performing Arts (PAC) and funded by the Embassy of the Royal Netherlands, premiered on 27 October this year.
 
A scene from the interactive play, Code of Honor.

Written by the Jordanian playwright Jamal Abu Hamdan, the play questions the premise upon which a man kills his sister: the 'cleansing' of the family honor. Family honor is tarnished simply if a family perceives a female member as having had a relationship outside marriage. The interactive play also sheds light on the Jordanian penal code which contributes to the endurance of this practice by exempting male killers from harsh penalties if their female victims are killed in 'a fit of fury'.

'Code of Honor' depicts a scene where three men from the pre-Islamic period playfully discuss what constitutes aar (shame): a pivotal word saturated with specific values demeaning to women.

As the story unfolds, the play's simplicity meshes with the hard questions that it poses. Interactive theater isn't satisfied with easy answers. The audience is called upon to unravel and lay bare complex social issues, and to find solutions to these problems. There are many victims here. The family's bullying tactics in persuading the brother of his duty to kill his sister is shocking; that brother's agony at his crime is palpable; the judge's verdict that the brother should not be harshly penalized is surprising.
 
The PAC's interactive theater troupe was established in 1989, pioneering the practice of bringing social issues onto the theatrical stage for analysis and problem-solving by the public. 'Code of Honor' was performed as part of the 15th Jordanian Theater Festival.
 
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