updated 6/26/2007 9:31:52 PM ET 2007-06-27T01:31:52

A 70-year-old woman who killed her daughter with an ax for giving birth to an illegitimate child and a man who shot a relative dead were each sentenced Tuesday to prison in separate "honor crime" prosecutions.

According to the charge sheet, the woman's 26-year-old daughter fled to her sister's house to hide her pregnancy and delivered a baby boy but was surprised by her mother, who killed her daughter with an ax. There was no word in court documents on the fate of the baby.

Initially, she was sentenced to 15 years in prison but that sentence was commuted because her husband and the murdered girl's father dropped the charges against his wife, said a court official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not allowed to talk to the media.

In a separate case, the same court handed a one-year sentence to a man for shooting a relative dead while in a "state of fury," after seeing the relative naked in the room of his brother's widow, who was in a nightgown. The man went to his apartment in the same building, loaded his gun and returned to his sister-in-law's, where the shooting took place, court documents said.

Both verdicts can be appealed.

In Jordan, an average of 20 women are killed by male relatives each year. Men have the final say in all family matters in this largely conservative Muslim society, where many consider sex out of wedlock an indelible stain on a family's reputation. Some women in conservative circles of the society have been killed simply for dating.

International human rights organizations have condemned honor killings in Jordan and appealed to the country's ruler, King Abdullah II, to put an end to the practice.

The government subsequently abolished a section in the penal code that allowed "honor" killers to get sentences as lenient as six months. Also, the government urged judges to consider honor killings equal to other homicides, punishable with up to 15 years in prison.

But attempts to introduce harsher sentences for honor killings have been blocked in Jordan's parliament, where the predominantly conservative Bedouin lawmakers argue that tougher penalties would lead to promiscuity.

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