Saturday, May 8, 2010

Is Honour Meant Only for Women



T
he latest honour killing victim reported in Indian media was a 23-year-old journalist who was allegedly killed by her family in an attempt to guard their honour in the society. Her mother was arrested and the National Commission of Women had taken up the case seriously so that in future no woman shall be killed in the name of caste and religion. Whatever may be the outcome of the on-going investigation, did the family regain their ‘honour’ by killing her? Had anyone who had indulged in honour killing ever regained lost honour by killing their daughters or sisters or mothers or wives? 

Not only in India, women everywhere are being haunted for ages in the name of honour. It’s nothing but a pre-conditioned social mindset created by the male dominated society to maintain their dominance over women, who are meek just because they lack the physical strength of men. And women are in a make-believe world of karma which asks them to produce offsprings to keep going the family tree. Seeds are sown into her womb, with or without her consent. The only accepted truth is, she a fertile land and her womb the best place to sow where men could reap as much as he wanted. What does he give them in turn- a cosy life, protection from intruders, warmth of a family, but don’t aim high. She should be subservient to him in deeds and position.

Patriarchy has replaced matriarchy forever. But, at the same time, the contemporary women are considered as liberated souls free to choose and act. Are they? Except in outlook, the liberated women carry the same burden of their yesteryear counterparts. They are liberated in shedding clothes to look more presentable. Look around and it is not difficult to see such copycat dolls. There is something to cheer. Their number in workplaces is rising. But the male pshyche is not yet prepared to accommodate women in par with them.
His first fear was losing his physical might over women’s biological superiority of reproduction. Now that fear has encroached into other realms like education and job market. And so he needs traditions and customs more than his women counterpart to maintain his supremacy in society.

What happened to the journalist Nirupama Pathak is not entirely different. A woman who refused to stick on to casteism, she fell in love with Priyabhanshu Ranjan, a man from a lower caste. Love knows no religion and so they decided to get married. But for her family it seemed as dishonour. They tried to resist their marriage  and even threatened to kill the boy. In the end, it was she who became the victim.It may be a contradiction that a journalist who is supposed to bring out the injustices around her became a scapegoat. Not as a journalist, but as a citizen she had every right to choose her life partner. But, her own family did not have a second thought to eliminate her despite the fact that she was carrying a three-month-old baby. Isn’t it the family responsible for not one, but two murders?

Unlike other places, in India, mostly the honour killing victims are women. Like in Nirupama’s case, love life of women in India is always bitter, if it is outside their religion and caste, where as men are free to do so. The unwritten social dictum allows men to woo women outside their community, convert her religion and raise children in his custom. If the girl is rich and able to exert pressure upon her as well as boy’s family to let him convert to her religion, there won’t be problem for her to get married to a man of her choice. But this seldom happens as mostly the girls are over-dependent on families. Of course, there are a few extremely courageous ones who could withstand all those trials and tribulations of a society which shows heinous satisfaction in breaking up two loving hearts. 

The society which blocks a girl’s wishes in the name of caste and religion, is simply trying to assert that love is a crime, and killing is honour. But the man who made her enter into a relation is spared by society purely because he is also one among them. The same male chauvinistic attitude is also responsible for the growing number of rapists and sex abusers. The male dominated society is not ashamed of protecting a rapist or a child sex abuser. Ask any woman, she might have seen shameless people who dare to exhibit or caress their masculinity while their irresponsible brothers prefer to be mute spectator rather than a knight in armour. Thereby motivating the culprit to continue his act shamelessly. It’s not difficult to see whose honour is losing here. Or honour is just meant for women?

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