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Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Killing in the name of Honour

For those of you who aren’t aware, honour killing is the murder of a family member (usually a woman or a girl) who has apparently brought shame to the family. The ‘shame’ can be anything- refusing to marry a stranger, identifying as a homosexual or even a transgender, being a rape victim, wearing whatever the person likes or even renouncing the faith. Rarely, men are also victims of such a horrible crime for example, if they’re homosexual.

The killers usually use horrible methods like lethal acid attacks, stabbing and throat-slashing, beating and hanging on the victim usually in public, so as to warn the other women to not take the same steps as they did.

Many other times, the minors in the families are closely asked to monitor the behavior of their sisters or unmarried aunts and are asked to perform the killings. They are usually blackmailed and if they refused, they are threatened with punishments and face the repercussions themselves as they have not performed their ‘duty’. Honour killing is one of the most barbaric practices ever performed in any culture. The people practicing this ruthless activity need to understand that there is no ‘honour’ in the killing. Women are usually the ones bringing ‘honour’ to such families and if they dishonour the family, they are erased from the face of the earth.

The United Nations has estimated a roundabout 5,000 honour killings that happen every year. However, they conclude that since most of the honour killings happen in rural areas, many murders are unregistered and thus, the figure might be quite high.

The ‘dishonourable’ women also include the ones requesting a divorce, being politically active and exploring different religions. The only way the honour can be redeemed in the society is by cold-heartedly murdering the relative who has brought them such shame!

Honour killing is as illogical as it is heartbreaking. Which sane human being would want to kill their own family member, who they’ve spent years nurturing? Many psychologists link honour killing to a ‘status anxiety’- the fear of losing their position in the society and the pressure to protect their status.

Such a similar case of honour killing happened late last week, on 16th July 2016 when a Pakistani model, Qandeel Baloch, was strangled by her own brother in the name of honour. The brother even confessed killing his own sister over some controversial social media posts. Even though her brother confessed to killing his sister, Quandeels brother can still escape any sort of punishment.

The legal system of Pakistan has no law against a case of honour killing if the murderer is pardoned by the family and since the murderer is always a family member, the other family members rarely hesitate for granting a pardon. Women and men are pitilessly killed every year if there are even suspicions to go against the code of the family.

Any attempts to make the laws a little more unorthodox have been unashamedly shot down and different bills introduced in the parliament to curb honour killings have been canned as ‘un-Islamic’ by most of the population as it doesn’t respect the cultural traditions of the society. Most probably, the rage over the killing of Qandeel Baloch might not be understood in her home nation, but it’s time that the nonchalant nature of these killings changes and many named and un-named victims of this vicious crime get justice.


Written by Durva Bhatt
A bibliophile who is fuelled entirely by caffeine, sarcasm, fandoms and random thoughts.


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