In a shocking news, four women were killed in the North Western Tribal area of Pakistan because they were singing and clapping in a wedding where men were dancing.
The incident happened in a remote village of the Gizar Valley. According to the brother of one of the men who were dancing, the tribal council or the Jirga ordered the killings as they believed that the women violated their ‘honor’ by as they clapped and sang while the men were dancing. The Pakistani government is investigating the matter on the orders of the court.
A video of the dance event along with commentary has been uploaded to You Tube. Please refer to the video footage.
Before you dismiss this as yet another case from the state of Pakistan which is anyway not very famous for good things, I would like to remind you of one thing – Honour Killings are as much a problem in India as they are in Pakistan. There they have Jirgas and here, we make up for it by having our own Khap Panchayats which can order rape, humiliation and even “execution” of anyone which they believe has been guilty of “dishonouring” them. Most of the victims of these Khaps are couples in love who dared to break the rigid class hierarchy of their society. Consider these cases :
- 16 year old Imrana was burnt alive in a typical case of vigilantism. She screamed for help for 20 minutes before her neighbours could come to her rescue.
- Biwi Jagi Kaur, two-time President of SGPC, was convicted of killing her daughter who married without her consent.
- In 2007, Manoj and Babli, who elpoed and got married, were kidnapped despite being given police protection. A week later, their mutilated bodies were found in a canal.
- Two teenaged girls were shot dead by their brother in Noida for going to meet their boyfriends.
- In 2009, Vedpal was killed in Kaithali because he dared to marry a girl without the consent of the Khap.
- in 2010, Nirupama Pathak, a 22 years old journalist was killed by her own mother because she wanted to marry a fellow journalist from a ‘lower’ caste.
Honour killing is a complicated issue which cuts deep into the fabric of the Indian society. There are more than 1000 “honour killings” in India every year. The perceived dishonour is often as a result of an intercaste marriage or sometimes even based on suspicion. Sometimes the young couple are done to death or worse, if they abscond, their families are punished, the men or their families killed or women raped. While in some parts of India like Bengal, honour killings largely stopped due to the efforts of Social reformers, in some other parts they continue to happen due to the feudalistic nature of the societies. More often than not, Honour Killings are the desparate attempt by these Khaps, the self proclaimed guardians of the society, to reign in the youth who are increasing breaking their shackles and striving to breathe free.
Women are the worst effected. According to Amnesty International:
The regime of honour is unforgiving: women on whom suspicion has fallen are not given an opportunity to defend themselves, and family members have no socially acceptable alternative but to remove the stain on their honour by attacking the woman.
There are many who defend the actions of these Khaps by arguing that this is done to save the honour of the families and upholding the traditions of the society. To such flag bearers of culture and tradition, I would like to ask one question – Is there any honour in killing one’s own children? And killing for what – for falling in Love ? A society which has no qualms in accepting hatred but squirms at the name of love is not a civilized society. Such a society based on the foundations of ruthless traditions is nothing better than hell and has no moral right to exist.
In a landmark judgement in 2010, the Karnal District Court sentenced to death, five members of a Khap and life term for the chief who were convicted of ordering the killing of Manoj and Babli. I hope that the sentence be carried out and an example be made of these killers who know nothing but false pride and hatred for anything which is beyond their understanding.