Dishonour of ‘honour’ killings

Fakeha Faiz

The vicious practice of honour killings engulfed yet another victim. The immolation of Zeenat Rafiq is the fourth case in the last two months of the “so-called” honour killing, grabbing the media attention. The 18-year old teenager dared to defy her parents’ authority to choose a groom for her and eloped with someone she wished to marry. The incident brought so much “dishonour” to her family, that her heartless mother took the extreme step to burn her alive. Instead of dealing with an issue with motherly traits of maturity and sensibility, she resorted to take the life of her own blood. No words can explain the horror of this brutality and no amount of argumentation can justify such concept of “honour killing”. Killing one’s female family members in the name of honour is the extreme form of patriarchy, reinforced by some of our social customs, which tie the concept of honour specifically with the female gender. Men are elevated as high and superior beings as opposed to their female counterparts. Many women are rarely provided with their fundamental rights and freedoms as guaranteed by the Quran, Sunnah and country’s Constitution. Their wings are clipped whenever they want to take a flight for themselves. Further damage is done by the religious clergy who strike down any meaningful development in the realm of women’s rights and search ways to “lightly” inflict harm on women’s bodies. As a society too, we have become increasingly callous and desensitised to the crimes committed against women. We hardly bat an eyelid on the cries and sufferings of this vulnerable segment of society. Honour killings, acid attacks and sexual harassment have become rules rather than exception, and all we hear after occurrence of such incidents are shallow words of sympathy and condemnation, only to be repeated until another woman loses her life because of violence committed against her. It is shameful that in a civilized world where the distinction between rights and roles of men and women is increasingly narrowing, we are still reluctant to give women their due rights and privileges, and suppress their voices. When will we start treating women as equal citizens? When will we stop sacrificing women to gratify our false sense of honour? How many more Ambreens and Zeenats will be burnt alive as a punishment to trample upon the honour of their families? When will the honorable religious clergy sitting in the country’s supreme religious Council open its eyes against the blood spilled in the name of honour? How many centuries do we need to wash away the dirty stain of honour killings from our society? These pertinent questions need meaningful answers to begin a discourse on these murders and formulate a narrative against them.
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