Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Honour Killing

As a White Anglo-Saxon Protestant, living in Australia, the practice of ‘honour killings’ is something I cannot get my head around. Some girl, who, if she besmirches the family honour (whatever that is), by being seen with a man not approved by the family, or involved in some activity not authorised by the family, is then stoned, shot, or killed in some way. This is supposed to somehow restore the family’s honour? To my way of thinking it does the reverse – it both diminishes the perpetrator(s) and dishonours the family.
I can understand, but not accept, that this is a carryover from tribal days, when a woman may have been “sleeping with the enemy” and thus betraying tribal secrets. But it is a very patriarchal attitude, with women considered as chattels, especially when a man can do the same but is never accused of anything. In fact there are cases on record where a girl was raped and then accused of dishonouring the family! This has nothing to do with religion or spirituality.
There have been cases recorded in Australia, with fathers severely mistreating their daughters for not obeying them, by being seen with a man of their own choice – not the father’s. And even worse cases such as when a girl is lured back from Australia, or some other country, to the tribal homeland and then killed. All for family ‘honour’!! It is as always women who “dishonour” the family.
A similar situation arises in parts of India when a girl whose dowry does not satisfy the new ‘in-laws’ is either killed or disfigured in some way (often by fire), in any event, if still alive, she is returned to her parent’s home, as ‘used goods’. She is no longer a virgin and so no longer considered marriageable. Her fate is uncertain and disfigurement, being buried alive or in some way severely injured or killed is her likely lot. Again this has nothing to do with religion or spirituality.
There is no indication of love – in the broader sense of love for one’s fellow beings, and certainly no parental love for the children, at least not as I understand it. Honour comes first – these are barbarous customs and practices; they are immoral and without virtue. There is no acknowledgement of the nobility of women (comprising some 50% of the human race); and seemingly no recognition by these very people, both men and women, who carry out, or are complicit in these vile acts, that they were themselves born of women – their own mothers! They were fed on mother’s milk – where now is their “milk of human kindness”?
Fortunately there are a few courageous women who are prepared to take a stand against these customs and fight for morality, virtue and human dignity.

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