On honour killings!
By Meera Ahuja
‘Tumne hamare khandan ki naak katva di’. These and similar dialogues are from umpteen Indian movies where the girl and boy meet and for whatever reasons the parents oppose the union.The girl/boy is locked up and then they run away together. In the end either they commit suicide or the parents accept the relation and they live happily everafter. I do not recall seeing a movie where the girl was molested or the children tortured and killed by the parents.
It is a medically proven fact that marriage between certain close relations are unhealthy and should be avoided at all costs.In this day and age when children are educated and more capable of taking informed decisions, when life threatening diseases like AIDS and habits like drinking and drug abuse are exposed only after marriage and other social evils like dowry persist, is it not better to marry the children where families are known?
In India parents look after and are responsible for their children all their lives. When a child is small, parents worry for his/her safety, health,education and as the child grows, the worries change form. As the child grows into a youngster, parents start worrying about his/her `behavior’ and future. They want the best for their child.As we are very concerned with the society we live in, we try to adhere to the societal norms.
On one hand, there are horrifying news of ‘honour killings’ and on the other hand there are news of buying of brides because of skewed sex ratio. Gotra by definition means clan, that is, the descendants in unbroken male line from a common male. So many changes occur or are made to happen with time, not all of them for the better. We need to preserve our culture but also let go of what is not right. So many social evils have been eradicated from our society and initially met with resistance. If marrying within the same gotra is incestous and invites torture, rape and death, then, what punishment is meted out to males who molest a girl of the same gotra or men who steal from/murder person(s) from the same gotra? How can parents who have nurtured their children for 20 odd years suddenly become such monsters?
In our country, girls are trained by their mothers in house work and how to be good daughters-in-law. The girls are very strictly chaperoned but the boys are allowed a free run. The children are told the rights and wrongs but very few parents talk to their children instead of talking down to them. Some subjects are absolute taboo and so in so many instances, girls (and even boys) are not able to report sexual abuse to even their mothers. The status of women in our society is also a contributory factor in this problem.
Whether the Khap panchayats order the killings or not, it is their responsibility to control this evil. Instead of denials or knee-jerk reactions to media, long term social solutions are the need of the hour. Some heavy rethinking has to be done and some norms redefined. Our children are not only our treasures but national property and whatever crime, deemed or otherwise, is committed,only the legal system has the right to judge. We plead helplessness when faced with robbers and terrorists but attack our own flesh and blood. Ironical, isn’t it?