Nothing Honourable in Honour Killings
By Kouser Fathima
Qandeel Baloch’s murder by her brother in the name of honour is nothing but a dishonourable act. Calling it honour killing is an insult to the honour of a girl. It reflects an inherent misogyny in cultures, which hail such acts as heroic.
The killing was a result of an insecure brother, bred in a culture, which fails to accept bold and opinionated women. The very existence of women in such cultures is a miracle because such cultures tie their honour to that of a woman’s life. This is a way of controlling her freedom and drawing lines not to be crossed at any cost. Any deviation is punishable by death and any dissent needs to be curbed because a bold woman is seen as a direct threat to their regressive values. Girls are conditioned at a young age about proper behaviour, how to dress, what to do and not do. The burden of the family’s honour is forced on them. The idea is badly incorporated in the daily lives until it becomes a cultural compact.
Since such regressive thinking becomes the norm, bigots rejoice or justify when someone is killed in the name of family ‘honour’.
If the killing of Qandeel Baloch was wrong, the way many people are celebrating it is cringeworthy. These people, who themselves must be leading pathetic lives, are justifying her killing, judging her deeds without knowing what she faced in her life. Many are trying to be politically correct by saying she was bad but still didn’t deserve to be killed. How insecure can you and your culture be that you have to rejoice in the killing of a girl in the name of ‘honour’? Despite depending on his sister’s money, the brother still feels so offended by her deeds that he kills his own sister.
This is not an isolated case. In the sub-continent, honour killings are dangerously becoming common, reflecting the rot in the society. Parents and family members don’t bat an eyelid, while killing their daughters and sisters in the name of family ‘honour’.
Ironically many boys from these families lead horrible lives, get into drugs, harass women, and indulge in gambling or worse crimes. But they are seldom shot or killed by the families. When was the last time a boy was killed for bringing dishonour to the family? The logic is simple: a boy/man can commit any sin or crime and get away with it but a girl will be judged for her actions and harshly punished, if needed.
People who justify killing of girls to protect family ‘honour’ fail to consider “what if women start killing men to protect their honour.” Will the families stand by them or will they punish the guilty for hurting a woman’s honour? While a man goes scot-free for his excesses, the family proudly announces the murder of a girl as ‘honour ‘killing.
We must be ashamed of such people and cultures which promote toxic ideas that judge women unfairly and celebrate their killings. Regressive ideas that forcefully equate the idea of family ‘honour’ with women need to be called out. There must be strict laws against ‘honour killings’ that will send a strong message. Brutes who kill their own blood in the name of ‘honour ‘ are themselves a blot on the world.
We need to emphasise that there is no honour in ‘honour killing’.
Dr. Kouser Fathima is a Bangalore-based dentist who writes on issues concerning women, especially Muslim women. Email: email@example.com. Twitter: @drkf_18
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