“Honour Killing”: Killing Of Kin Is Not Honourable, Call It Diabolical
By Sohail Arshad, New Age Islam
12th of December 2012
When a 25 year old woman was beheaded by his brother in broad daylight for leaving her husband and living with her long time lover in Kolkata recently, the police officers in Kolkata police headquarters said it could be a case of honour killing. When a man from UP was killed for marrying a girl without the consent of her in laws, the murder was declared an honour killing. In the villages of Haryana and other northern and north-western states of India, boys and girls are constantly killed by their parents or brothers to protect their ‘honour‘. And the murder is termed ‘honour killing’.
According to the statistics, about 1000 boys and girls are killed in India every year. Those murdered defy the established moral and social norms regarding the marriage by marrying into other gotras, castes or religions. The killings are not confined to the Hindus who stick to the centuries old social customs and traditions but also among Muslims who are born and brought up in the same social and psychological atmosphere.
The issue of honour killing is not a social problem of India alone but it is a burning issue in the Islamic republic of Pakistan as well. In Pakistan the statistics show much graver situation in terms of honour killing. According to a report of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, the trend of honour killing has risen in Pakistan in recent years. While in 2010, the number of people killed in the name of honour was 791, it grew up to 943 in 2011. Majority of the victims are women. It clearly shows that both Hindus and Muslims have the same sense and definition of honour when killing their sons and daughters.
Honour killing in Pakistan has one more heinous aspect. According to the Commission, Some women who are killed are raped or gang raped before being killed. Probably it enhances their social dignity and honour.
Since most Indians and Pakistanis who have settled abroad, say, in the Western countries, cannot leave their own cultural values including their honour behind, the cases of honour killing also come up in those countries as well. Recently, cases of honour killing surfaced in Canada and Belgium.
With whatever term, honourable or disgraceful, they are referred to, they are invariably cases of cold-blooded murder by the close relatives of the victims whom they trust and live with. The term was invented by these so-called upholders of honour and was accepted by the civil society, the administration and the judiciary and that is unfortunate as it reflects our insensitivity to the victims.
The moment the word honour killing is mentioned in relation to a murder of a daughter by her father or of a sister by his brother, the first impression it creates in our mind is that of a sense of justification for the act and a hidden sympathy towards the murderer. It puts the victim in the dock even before the trial begins.
A murder is a murder. It cannot be justified on any pretext, social, moral or religious. The social and sexual crimes should be dealt under the law of the land and individuals should not be punished extra-judicially. It is high time the term honour killing is dropped from the legal, judicial and administrative jargon. We should form some appropriate term to refer to such killings that brings out the unlawfulness and the inhuman aspect of a heinous act like murder.
So-called honour killing was in practice in pre-Islamic Arabia. It is a custom of the Jahiliya. Arabs used to bury alive their innocent unsuspecting daughters with their own hands or pushed them into wells just to save their “honour” from the humiliation of having a damaad (son-in-law) and to escape the disgrace a father of a grown up daughter had to face in the morally decadent Arab society. Though Islam prohibited the killing of daughters, there are still people in Muslim society to whom their honour is above the rulings of the Quran and Hadith.
So far as the marriage is concerned, Islam does not recognise barriers of superficially constituted sects and groups among Muslims. It not only allows Muslims to have matrimonial relations into different sects and sub sects of Islam but also allows marriage with the people of ahl-e-kitab i.e. Christians and Jews and other religious groups who are considered ahl-e-kitab as their scriptures have divine concepts similar to Islam. Islam also allows adult males and females to choose their own life partners. Though it may defy local cultural or social mores, it does not call for the annihilation of the boy or the girl. Islam also allows the girl and the boy to see each other in the presence of parents. So, opposing the marriages on the basis of religion, sect or sub-sect is against the rulings of the Sharia and thus haram and killing people for this ‘defiance’ is cold-blooded murder in the eyes of Islam.
As a large number of honour killings among the Muslims of Pakistan are committed to punish the wives or daughters for having illicit relationships, the Sharia and the law of the land has provisions for such sexual and social crimes, especially Pakistan has harsh measures to deal with such crimes. But as happens in other cases, people do not take recourse to the social and legal processes and take the law into their own hands. This is also un-Islamic and anti-Sharia practice which should be condemned.
There are also cases of frame up by close relatives due to some domestic or financial disputes. Recently a 70 year old lady, who can hardly walk, was alleged to have an illicit relationship with one of her 17 year old grandson. Her husband wanted some financial help from his in-laws and when refused, he brought this allegation against her to drive her out of his home.
The media can play a big role in discouraging such inhuman and un-Islamic practices in the society. It should not present these cases in a positive light glorifying the killers or the accused.
Arshad is a regular columnist for New AgeIslam.com.
Sohail Arshad is a regular columnist for New AgeIslam.com.