Tuesday, August 17, 2010

On ‘honor killing’

By Abhijatya Dhar

Honour Killing. The term is heard often these days on radio and television, even at the coffee houses. Lot of newsprint has been utilised to discuss the subject. But, what exactly is honour killing?
Of late, there has been news from various parts of the country about parents killing their children, brothers killing their sisters, grandparents contemplating on these lines... Strange and gory though it may sound, it’s happening.
Honour killing is the murder of a man or a woman by a kin because of the belief that he or she has brought dishonour to the family or community. By committing this crime, the murderer believes he is restoring the family honour, which was lost or tainted by the actions of the victim.
The literal meaning of honour is ‘great respect’ or ‘a clear sense of what is morally right.’ What has to be kept in mind here is that the sense of rightness and wrongness keep changing from time to time in the dynamic human society.
Some couples, who fell in love and got hitched against the wishes of their family were killed by their relatives. This inhuman act, which displayed an intolerant and bigoted mindset has been termed ‘honour killing’ which is just a euphemism; the underlying or the resounding message being, conforming to rigid codes of conduct as always, is the way to lead life. Any deviation means loss of the right to live. These incidents have only shown that the families have given vent to anger and disapproval in the most inhuman or you can say, barbaric way and they were all calculated actions inspired by firm belief of adherence to caste, community, religion and family norms. This may socially be sanctioned by caste panchayats (sati, dowry) but it remains unacceptable in any civilised human society. Though the number of love marriages has gone up in metros but in villages and small towns, the scene is totally different.
As of now, there are no specific laws to deal with the so called honour killings. The issues that arise are:
1. is honour killing just a fancy nomenclature to justify heinous acts of murder?
2. has human society become self-destructive?
3. with parents killing children and siblings killing each other, is it indicative of a greater psychological disorder, perhaps asking for research or probe and psychiatric help?
4. our country has a definite constitution with specific laws. Where are they? Can human murders by their own family members be justified ever in 21st century where honour is mixed with false ego and bigotry?
5. is this going to catch on and start a trend as a forest fire or can it be arrested in good time by severe actions, remains to be seen.
In my opinion, it is false pride, ego and beastly instinct of man coming to forefront under the excuse of restoration of honour which requires active policing, series of penal sanctions and severe punishments which are the only logical antidotes to arrest the cancerous growth in the human society and its psyche before it becomes an epidemic. At its very base, it remains a violent, irrational, heinous and inhuman crime. In other words it is just plain, cold-blooded murder and should be dealt with in the courts of law as the same.

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