Farzana, who was pregnant at the time, was stoned in full public view with bricks as she attempted to go and testify in the court for her newlywed husband, Mohammad Iqbal. Reportedly, it was her father and brother who delivered most of the grisly assaults that lead to her demise. What was her sin? She married against her family’s wishes and apparently that lead to an unpardonable insult of the whole clan who looked forward to nothing but revenge.
Point to Ponder. Many cases like Farzana happen around the world every single day. Most of the cases don’t see the light of justice as they remain hidden in the murky shadows of social ethics and morals. They are merely termed as honour killings or shame killings and left for the people to ponder upon for some time until the dawn of other crimes. It’s time that light is shed upon the issue and it should be taken seriously for humanity to sustain a firm foundation of peace and harmony.
In simple words, it is a cold-blooded murder which results when the perpetrators believe that the victim has violated their rules or principles and should be taught a lesson for the brought disgrace. They are the acts of vengeance and brutal retaliation, mostly against female family members who are judged guilty to have brought dishonor to the entire clan. While the male community is also affected, the percentage is quite low as compared to females.
For a female, there are a variety of purposes including being a victim of rape or sexual assault, seeking a divorce from her husband, committing or getting alleged of committing adultery, a firm refusal to enter an arranged marriage, wearing clothes that are not approved by the family or even daring to raise questions on certain issues. The four main reasons include – homosexuality, violation of religious principles and values, renouncing of faith in a deity and adultery. Perceptions of the social matter the family’s decisions on these matters and thus, raise serious questions on the morals of humankind. The mere perception that a girl or a woman has conducted herself in a way that is derogatory to the family’s image and honour is sufficient enough to trigger a life-threatening attack on the girl.
Statistics and recorded data claim that over 5000 honour killings happen every year internationally while sources unclaimed predict a figure almost double. These do not include the unofficial cases that go unrecorded and are never brought into the limelight. Around 1000 honour killings occur in India and Pakistan every year compared to a measly figure of 12 assassinations in the UK. Majority of the killings are carried out in the Islamic regions of North Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia. Religion thus affects the slaying process and the intensity of barbarism.
Abdul Hakim (29), who had attained celebrity status after exposing the hypocrisy of “Khap Panchayats” on Aamir Khan’s TV show Satyamev Jayate, was gunned down in his Bulandshahr village.
His wife Mehwish (25), on Monday, created a sensation by handing over a one-and-a-half year old audio clip of her conversation with her mother Shabnam to the media in Bulandshahr in which the latter had warned that the community would kill them for their love marriage.
“I had recorded this conversation in my mobile when we had eloped from the village and were living in hiding in Mumbai. My mother had said that let alone our village Adoli in Bulandshahr, the panchayat will not let us live even in Bhatgarhi, which is the outskirts of the village. She had clearly said that the family would kill us,” she said.
“The murder of my husband on Thursday was a case of honour killing. It was committed by my own family members. They also want to kill me and my one-and-a-half-year old daughter Mantesha. The village panchayat on Saturday night had declared from the loudspeaker that we would also be eliminated soon,” she said.
Though Hakim was killed on 22 November 2012, the incident came to light only on 25 November 2012 when Mehwish managed to contact some local newspersons and informed them about the brutal murder of her husband when he was going to a local doctor to get some medicines for her. She is eight-month pregnant.
“They had said they would kill us. And now they have done it by killing my husband. The police could have saved him if they had believed us and provided us security. They are still not cooperating with us. We have registered a named FIR against five persons but the police have arrested only one person – my uncle Asif Anwar. There were more people of my family who had declared that we would be killed and they finally shot dead my husband in daylight. Now they are after me and my daughter’s lives,” she added.
Methods used to carry out the killings can be very ruthless and inhuman, including burning, beating, stabbing, beheading, acidic burning, strangulation, throat lashing and stoning. The worst part of the process is that it is done in front of the public, more often than not, and the murderers make sure that the murder is keenly perceived. Weapons are often given to children and under-aged individuals, as they are more likely to be pardoned by the law. Tall claims that honour killings do not occur in the US were counter-attacked by a report released by a survey organization. It is estimated that an average of 23 to 27 incidents occurs in a year in the USA, but there is no reliable data.
Honour killing has been declared a crime and atrocious punishments are declared in many nations. The accused individuals have to present proper defense statements to the jury for forgiveness. But proper measures and timely thinking on our part will help us escape this horrific reality.
Education. A wise man once said, “Education is the key to a brighter future.” Educating future generations and using religion as an optimistic tool which emphasizes peace and justice will surely help to counter-attack this problem. The governments across the globe have already introduced reform measures to help the victims as well the possible targets. Strict penal codes in various nations have also brought about some change in the intensity of this brutal process. To implement decisions taken by the court or any other law-governing body of the country is a must to punish the offenders publicly and shame their deeds of utmost atrocity.
Awareness Programs. Awareness programs are created by various governmental and non-governmental agencies which portray various scenarios in which honour killings might take place and how to avoid them. Attending workshops and seminars might help to gain additional information and insights on the matter.
Learn Self Defense. Taking self-defense classes, especially the females and also attending workshops that teach how to heighten one’s alertness and mental strength can help the person overcome this issue.
Having full knowledge about the consequences of one’s decisions and having the capacity to face problems that follow should be the mental set up of an individual.
Molding Culture. Culture affects a person more than he can ever imagine. It affects the way he speaks, the way he acts and most importantly, the way he thinks. Molding culture for the benefits of society might help stop various social evils, which includes honour killing. Our movies, our books, our music all function to drive our thought process. Depicting strong revolts against such murders may help change the outlook of the society towards it.
Individualistic endeavours by each one of us will build collective efforts of the human civilization and successfully erase the ritual of the pages of history itself.
Once these individualistic efforts are directed towards a motive that is for the betterment of the people around us, only then can we help others escape a bleak future. Drafting awareness programs and volunteering for awareness campaigns can be done by individuals who feel dearly for potential victims. You can always help with provisions and reinforcements to various sectors of the government related to the prevention of this crime.
As said earlier, culture is what affects a person, most. What he reads, sees, listens to mold his opinions and judgments. Writing articles that strongly condemn honour killings and publishing them on online public portals will always help the society to function clearly. Sacrificing fear is the primary step to counter the issue as fear forms the basis for doubt and crime.
Sharing of important information such as the public helplines and location of safe shelter homes might also help the potential victims to escape. Any data, big or small, should be shared upon provocation to aid the person in need in the times of peril. Honour killings are most prone to the Asian continent on a broader scale. Also, various surveys often indicate the victims to be females in between the age group of 17-35 years. This tells us that the crime focuses on the harassment of the weaker and innocent part of society. If this is the case, then the remedial measures are quite simple. Eradicate the people’s thoughts on weaker sex and arrange them according to the changing progressive times. Only then can the female community rest in peace and tranquillity.
Since the dawn of human civilization, man has been plagued by several issues and questions that he fears to ponder upon. These subjects make him question the sanity and can drive him to the brinks of lunacy. Rather than to face them, it makes it much easier to avoid the same. But that is where the whole system breaks down. Acknowledgment of the root of the problem that is the degraded human mentality and finding solutions such as educational awareness and strict rules and regulations is the best way to make this planet a suitable place to reside upon.
Since historical times, man has been given supreme power over his family and unchecked authority to regard them as property. This linkage of thoughts still prevails in our so-called modern society, and thus crimes like honour killings happen. Breaking the trail is one thing that we as a collective group of rational-minded humans can do. Prestige, honour, stature, and reputation mean nothing when one cannot respect the personal choices of an individual. It is equivalent to an empty bowl or a bowl filled with gloom and despair. People carrying out this heinous crime are no more than cowards, trying to hide behind the masks of fake authority and power. It is either necessary that these vicious people change their mindset or get ready to face the consequences of ruthless punishments for a time to unrelenting to imagine.
Remember the gruesome incident of 2014 that brought humanity on its knees and questioned the sanity of the entire human race? It was a case of honour killing in Lahore, Pakistan. A girl was brutally murdered by her own family members publically when she tried to defend her husband from false criminal charges.
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