On Friday I wrote about honour killings and how horrible cases happened in India. I have learned the word ‘honour killing’ in combination with exactly such cases here in India. There is a boy and there is a girl, they fall in love but they are not allowed to. Why? Because he is from one caste and she is from another. It was only after I had spent more time in the west that I heard that honour killings also happen there – although the question of caste does not exist there.
Here it happens because arranged marriages are normal and parents and family members have a strong wish to marry their child within their caste. They see inter-caste marriages as something shameful. The purity of their caste has to be preserved and this is what they understand as their honour, the honour of their family. Sometimes their son or daughter however refuses all ‘appropriate’ marriage proposals and rejects every possible partner who would fit in the eyes of their family. Instead, he or she falls in love with someone who comes from a lower caste! This relationship ‘dishonours’ the parents, too. It is true, their whole village and their relatives expect them to marry their son or daughter to the right person, one of their caste! There is a lot of social pressure and neighbours and other people in the surrounding may treat even the parents with less respect because of the decision of their child to break those rules.
When it happens, some families see only one possibility to save the honour of their child and, most importantly, their family: they murder their own child and the partner who caused this trouble. Estimates count more than 1000 cases of honour killing per year in India.
When I heard that this happens even in the west, I was wondering at first why it happened there. There nobody follows any caste system, do they? I got to know a bit more about it though and heard that it happens mostly with immigrant families, people from other cultures who settled in those countries.
From that point of view it looked very similar. There are many cases with Muslim families but it also happens among Hindus and members of other religions and why? Mostly because a daughter had a relationship or was even only suspected of having a relationship with someone outside their community.
These immigrant families often try to preserve their culture. I have made a lot of experience with this, wrote about it a few times and see honour killings as an extreme example for it. Coming from cultures and societies in which the one and only man a woman should have a relationship with is her husband, these families have difficulties accepting the free culture which they find in the west. Boyfriends and girlfriends, sex before marrying or even not marrying at all. The free lifestyle of girls in the west compared with what they know from their home countries.
They live with this pressure of two cultures and societies and are afraid that their children could follow the new culture more than the one that they cherish. And when they do, their parents and often brothers, uncles, cousins or other family members, in a madness that nobody with a sane mental state can understand, do horrible things to their children, their siblings and loved ones.
That is not honourable, it is horrible. I understand again that this is a global problem and a result of the separation that we make in between people. It happens because of caste, religion, culture and outdated views on life. It is lack of education, a primitive reaction without being able to control oneself and finally also in many cases a male attempt to control women.
Many reasons, many sad stories but what we and especially those people who have the mindset to do such a crime have to learn is simply more love. How can you do this to someone you love? You cannot! You want that person to be happy! Don’t try to force anybody into doing what you think is right. Don’t keep a weird idea of your or another person’s ‘honour’. Be free and let others be free as well.
Today is the birthday of our friend Helena from Norway and she is celebrating with our children by sponsoring their food. See more pictures here.