Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Whose Honor Is It Any Way?

To be young and in love has proved to be fatal for many in parts of north India. The increasingly bigoted society refuses to accept violation of its rigid code of decorum, when it comes to women. While surfing net on the issue I come across tons of data full of horrors and bestiality of egocentric societies.

It makes head hang in shame and is utterly nauseating:

· Central to the theme of honor and violence is the subordinate position of girls and women in all castes and communities.

· A woman's chastity is the "honor" of the community

· The acts of violence include public lynching of couples, murder of either the man or the woman concerned, murder made to appear as suicide, public beatings, humiliation, blackening of the face, forcing couples or their families to eat excreta or drink urine, forced incarceration, social boycotts and the levying of fines.

· One reason for the increased visibility of such crimes is the trend of more and more girls joining educational institutions, meeting others from different backgrounds and castes and establishing relationships beyond the confines of caste and community. Such individuals, both boys and girls, are being targeted so that none dares to breach the barriers of castes and communities.

· Caste panchayats have come to play an increasingly important role in Haryana and elsewhere, especially in situations where political patronage also exists.

· Honor killing is a long prevalent problem of egocentric society

Honor Killings in Irving, USA:

The sisters, 17-year-old Sarah and 18-year-old Amina Said, were killed on New Year's Day by their father them because they were dating non-Muslim boys and acting too Western.

Honor Killing in Denmark:

The Dark Ages come to Denmark in broad daylight, as a Pakistani man murders his sister in a public street. Calmly and methodically, big brother stoops over his little sister while shooting one projectile after the other into her. Her spouse, affected by several shots to the abdomen, can only look on helplessly, while his wife is executed by her own family.

Horrific Incident in Pakistan:-

Ghazala was set on fire by her brother in Joharabad, Punjab province, on 6 January 1999. According to reports, she was murdered because her family suspected she was having an 'illicit' relationship with a neighbor. Her burned and naked body reportedly lay unattended on the street for two hours as nobody wanted to have anything to do with it. Ghazala was burned to death in the name of honor. Hundreds of other women and girls suffer a similar fate every year amid general public support and little or no action by the authorities. In fact, there is every sign that the number of honor killings is on the rise as the perception of what constitutes honor -- and what damages it -- widens, and as more murders take on the guise of honor killings on the correct assumption that they are rarely punished.

Indian Scenario:
The largest number of cases have occurred in northern states of Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh - most of the incidents reported at the convention took place in these three States.

Significantly, in the majority of cases it is the economically and socially dominant castes that organize, instigate and abet such acts of retribution.

“Honor-killings", which are widespread in economically advanced States of Haryana and Punjab, accounting for 10 per cent of all honor killings in the country. It is not surprising that no such category of crime exists in government records. In fact, there is refusal even to recognize this phenomenon. is an example. Perpetrated under the garb of saving the "honor" of the community, caste or family, such incidents occur often as the State governments are not keen to take action.


Poonam was bundled into a waiting jeep on Thursday night and thrown into the Rajasthan canal by her father and six other male members of her Jat family because she wouldn't let go of Mukhram, a young Dalit boy. But the feisty 19-year-old survived drowning, in what would probably have been the umpteenth honor killing in Haryana, to fight back and charge her relatives with attempted murder. But only did she swam to safety, battling her way to the bank of the canal near Tibbi, a settlement on the Rajasthan border, but also approached the police to demand justice. Confirming Poonam's story, SHO Anil Kumar said, "On Friday, a case was registered against the seven accused under sections 307 (attempt to murder), 364 (abduction with intention to kill) and 120-B (criminal conspiracy) of the IPC. All of them are absconding and we are looking for them."

On September 22, members of the Gujjar community in Rajasthan’s Dausa district called a ‘maha panchayat’ to protest the arrest of the killers of a young Gujjar girl who had been murdered, allegedly, to protect her family’s ‘honour’. Fifteen-year-old Neelam’s father, uncle and grandfather are alleged to have murdered the teenager to avenge the slight to their honour by the girl’s elopement with a dalit boy. The Gujjars belong to the category ‘other backward castes’, which is higher in the country’s caste hierarchy than the Bairwa caste to which her dalit husband belonged. Although members of Neelam’s family reportedly confessed, during police interrogation, that it had been an ‘honour killing’, the community panchayat says they will launch an agitation against the arrests. Indeed, in the teenager’s village of Shahadpur there is widespread condemnation of the arrests and anger against women’s right groups that have protested against the girl’s killing.

In Muzaffarnagar district in western Uttar Pradesh, at least 13 honor killings occurred within nine months in 2003. In 2002, while 10 such killings were reported, 35 couples were declared missing. Data for such incidents are seldom available and they would mostly be classified under the category of general crimes. Moreover, most of such cases go unreported and, even when reported, often first information reports [2] are not filed and post-mortems are not conducted.

Honor crimes are acts of violence, usually murder, mostly committed by male family members predominantly against female [relatives] , who are perceived to have brought dishonor upon the family. A woman can be targeted by individuals within her family for a variety of reasons, including: refusing to enter into an arranged marriage, being the victim of a sexual assault, seeking a divorce — even from an abusive husband, or (allegedly) committing adultery .The mere perception that a woman has behaved in a specific way to "dishonor" her family, is sufficient to trigger an attack.[1]

For example, honor killings can sometimes target those who choose boyfriends, lovers or spouses outside of their family's ethnic and/or religious community. Some women who adopt the customs (or religion) of an outside group, may also be more likely to be victims. Furthermore, in certain cultures a raped single woman will garner no bride price if she marries, and thus be considered "worthless" to the family. There is some evidence that homosexuality can also be grounds for honor killing by relatives. Several cases have been suspected but not confirmed. There is also a documented case of a gay Jordanian man who was shot (but not fatally) by his brother.

Many hold the practice to be self-contradictory, since an honor killing is sometimes justified by its participants or supporters, as an attempt to uphold the morals of a religion or a code, which at the same time generally forbids killing as morally wrong.

Countries that allow men to kill female relatives in flagrante delicto (but without premeditation) include:

Syria, Morocco, Haiti and Turkey: Recently Turkey changed its laws concerning honor killings. Persons found guilty of this crime are sentenced to life in prison.

In two Latin American countries: Similar laws were struck down over the past two decades: according to human rights lawyer Julie Mertus "in Brazil, until 1991 wife killings were considered to be noncriminal 'honor killings'; in just one year, nearly eight hundred husbands killed their wives. Similarly, in Colombia, until 1980, a husband legally could kill his wife for committing adultery."

Countries where honor killing is not legal but is frequently ignored in practice include Indian and Pakistan.


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