What is it about the people of Indian subcontinent, that we still value “Honor” or our value in others’ eyes so much? Why can’t we live our lives in a way that upholds ourselves in just our own eyes?
Although, both India and Pakistan have this family honor disease, but it is far more prevalent in Pakistan than in India. My take is that this is because not only were kingdoms done away with, but even the Zamindari system was totally deconstructed in India, while it remained intact in Pakistan.
Pakistan’s politics, and therefore, power and idea of power is dictated by the Zamindari mindset. And, for them, “Honor” – specifically “Family Honor” was paramount.
Add to this the importance that religion plays in a Pakistani’s life. Islamic dictates are often at variance with the modern world. Which means that the social rigidity is accentuated by the burden that comes from living in a decidedly “Religious State”.
That is why a few years ago, I was surprised to see how popular the word “Be-ghairat” as an abuse was and how demeaning it was supposed to me. Be-Ghairat could be literally translated into someone who is devoid of any self image. So, if you aren’t the one to care two hoots about the society and society actually has a bad opinion about you, you are one. Some characteristics / roles make you a worse “be-ghairat” than others. For example, a prostitute is probably the epitome of Be-ghairat”-hood.
In such a society, it is not surprising that Honor Killings become such a major reason of deaths of women. RT (online mag from Russia) reports the following:
At least 943 Pakistani women and girls were murdered in 2011 for allegedly “defaming their families’ honor,” according to a leading human rights group. Of these women, 93 were minors, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan said in its annual report. Pakistan has no law against domestic violence. Women in the country are frequently treated as second-class citizens.
That’s a fairly large number. And given the nature of this crime, majority of such crimes go un-documented and reported in the country.
It is time that someone takes serious note of this issue. I know many progressive Pakistanis are protesting and organizing against this in many ways, but it will not help much until the societal make up is not altered with. Until the feudal lords lead the country’s political and power structure, there is very little hope for improvement!
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