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An academic, a researcher and writer.

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Ignorance and false honour

According to a recent news from Faisal Abad Honour killings: Man guns down six daughters – The Express Tribune a man gunned down his six daughters “on suspicion that two of them were in relationship with boys in the neighbourhood.” The man killed the two teenage girls (14 and 16 years old) because they developed relationship with boys. This act of the young girls he thought dishonoured him. He also took the lives of the rest of the four of his daughters alongside them because he thought they did not let him know and instead supported the two sisters guilty of this ‘crime’.

The question is why did one man, a father to boot, unlawfully, callously, brutally, inhumanly took the lives of six humans in one go? The man ostensibly did this ‘honourable’ act to wash off the black spot of ‘dishonour’ from his name that he thought his hapless daughters had put on it by indulging in the ‘shameless act’. Killing all six of them was, therefore, according to his thinking essential to restore his damaged honour. The incident is a reflection of the state and direction of our society in many ways as this is not a singular act of insanity. This is not a rare exception either. It’s a tragic reality.

The incident indicates quite a few alarming trends in our society. First, it shows the level of ignorance, intolerance and falsity in our society. Why else would someone take six young, vulnerable lives on the basis of a mere suspicion? Secondly, it shows unjust, ignorant social pressures on individuals that push people to the level of lunacy and utter madness, compelling them to go to such levels of barbarism in order to restore their ‘honour’. In this sense the father is as much a victim of the brutal social expectations and norms as are the daughters. This, however, does not mean any absolution of the man from his inhuman act. He must be punished according to law. Third, the incident indicates the false sense of honour and dishonour prevalent in the society. The murderer in this case not only took the lives of six young women on a mere suspicion, he also boasted about it in the aftermath of the brutal and criminal act and reiterated that he would do so again if he had to. Obviously he does not regret anything. This shows the man’s conviction in his false and ignorant understanding of honour. Fourth, the man did this at his own home in the presence of his wife and at the instigation of his son. That means he was not entirely alone in the act. He had a sense of that ‘social’ support behind him. That makes the act even more alarming. Lastly who knows what role might economic pressures and the responsibility to shoulder the burden of six daughters have played in this tragic to the lives of these young girls?

Now some questions: What made a father take the lives of his six young daughters in such a barbaric way? Could it have been prevented? If ‘yes’ how? If ‘no’, ‘why not’? By doing what he did, did the man actually restore his honour, in other words, does he stand more ‘honourable’ now? How could one do better than what he did in the situation that he was in? What does the society and the state need to do to prevent such barbaric acts?

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