Is Honour Killing Really An Honour?
Honour killing is basically referred to as the killing of a relative, which more often than not is a girl or a woman, who is thought to have brought disgrace to the family. The murder of a woman by her brother, father or any man in the family, and sometimes even by the mother (as was seen in a recent incident in Lahore), is tagged as ‘honour’ killing usually for reasons such as refusing to enter into an arranged marriage, being in a relationship which is disapproved by the family, dressing in a way considered improper or for even renouncing faith.
In Sindh, Pakistan, ‘honour’ killing is known as ‘karo kari’. This means killing of a person because of immoral behavior. It is especially true of small districts that when a woman decides to go against a norm, family members are of the belief that they are authorized to kill her. There is no honour in this.
Coming now to the background of honour killings, they have been around since ancient Roman times when senior males retained authority for killing their wives or unmarried girls in the family.
Sharif Kanaana, professor of anthropology at Berzeit University states that honour killing is a “complicated issue that cuts deep into the history of Arab society”. Historically in some Arab countries under the Ottoman rule the killer would “sprinkle his victim’s blood on his clothes and parade through the streets displaying the bloody murder weapon …. to increase his honour”.
Sadly the incidents of honour killing are still on the rise. Last month in June 2016, a girl was killed by her own mother accompanied by other family members. She was murdered because she married a boy out of her own will and her family was not accepting that relationship. Where is the honour in killing your own daughter if she just wanted to exercise a choice in marriage? And sadly this is not the only incident that has recently taken place – there have been many more.
Qandeel Baloch was a Pakistani model who became famous for posting controversial pictures and videos on social media. She was killed by her brother because apparently he believed that she was damaging the reputation of their family as well as the country. Personally, I do not support or follow Qandeel Baloch but I also do not support the action taken by her brother. What she was doing may have been bringing disgrace to the family or the country according to many people, but what her brother did, also did not bring any honours to the family. No one has the right to kill or harm anyone.
Even in Islam we have been directed that if we feel something or someone is wrong, then we should make an effort to make them understand the consequences of their actions. If they still fail to understand, then we could pray for them, or part ways with them, but never harm them.
Some men believe that they have the authority to kill their wives, daughters and sisters because doing this brings them honour or regains the honour that was lost. They also believe in hurting these women who are raising their voice or doing something which is against their (men’s) will, as a way of displaying and establishing masculine power. People may not always be right, but taking their life in the name of honour is not right either.
Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, an Oscar winning Pakistani film director was also criticized by some people that she made movies highlighting the negatives in Pakistan, one of them being honour killing. I believe that highlighting an ugly truth brings less disgrace to the country than the number of times the incident actually happened. If we do not raise the issue and create awareness, how we can fight against it? Raising such issues could not only show people that there is no honour in killing someone, but it could also save the life of someone else going through the same plight.
Note: I do not intend to offend to anyone, or any gender. I am merely pointing out those who have fallen prey to this mindset of intolerance and killing in the name of honour. Not all people are the same though. There are many men and women who are against honour killing and there exist many men who are always supportive of their sisters, daughters and wives. We can definitely learn a thing or two from them.
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of CourtingTheLaw.com or any other organization with which she might be associated.