Friday, May 16, 2008

Indian Village Proud Of Double Honor Killing?

Out of the New York Times comes this story:

Five armed men burst into the small room and courtyard at dawn, just as 21-year-old, 22-week pregnant, Sunita was drying her face on a towel.

They punched and kicked her stomach as she called out for her sleeping boyfriend "Jassa," 22-year-old Jasbir Singh, witnesses said. When he woke, both were dragged into waiting cars, driven away and strangled.

Their bodies, half-stripped, were laid out on the dirt outside Sunita's father's house for all to see, a sign that the family's "honor" had been restored by her cold-blooded murder.

A week later, the village of Balla, just a couple of hours drive from India's capital New Delhi, stands united behind the act, proud, defiant almost to a man."

Pay attention to the way the story is described. Is it me or can you see a perspective already being established? I don't disagree with it but it makes me think about globalism and culture. One of the most difficult things about globalism is making judgment calls on the actions and customs of those in cultures different from us. See Eating Dogs or Pigs? and China wins Pre-Olympics Gold Medal and Sometimes the World is Scary from our previous post to understand what I mean about judging the actions of other culture.

Nevertheless, honor killings are definitely up there with the list of things that really don't register well in Western culture. Morally, ethically or through any system of laws, the fact that someone, specifically a woman can be killed off for bringing dishonor upon a family seems a bit extreme and inhumane.

It gets more interesting as you look at other countries and cultures which similar issues (many of which have Western background or influences or connections)

From Wikipedia:

According to the report of the Special Rapporteur submitted to the 58th session of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights (2002) concerning cultural practices in the family that reflect violence against women (E/CN.4/2002/83):

The Special Rapporteur indicated that there had been contradictory decisions with regard to the honor defense in Brazil, and that legislative provisions allowing for partial or complete defense in that context could be found in the penal codes of Argentina, Ecuador, Egypt, Guatemala, Iran, Israel, Jordan, Peru, Syria, Venezuela and the Palestinian National Authority.

The Israeli government denies that its law allows for "family honor" as a defense in murder, partially or completely.

Countries where the law is interpreted to allow men to kill female relatives in a premeditated effort as well as for crimes of passions, in flagrante delicto in the act of committing adultery, include:

  • Jordan: Part of article 340 of the Penal Code states that "he who discovers his wife or one of his female relatives committing adultery and kills, wounds, or injures one of them, is exempted from any penalty." This has twice been put forward for cancellation by the government, but was retained by the Lower House of the Parliament.

Countries that allow men to kill female relatives in flagrante delicto (but without premeditation) include:

  • Syria: Article 548 states that "He who catches his wife or one of his ascendants, descendants or sister committing adultery (flagrante delicto) or illegitimate sexual acts with another and he killed or injured one or both of them benefits from an exemption of penalty."

Countries that allow husbands to kill only their wives in flagrante delicto (based upon the Napoleonic code) include:

  • Morocco: Article 418 of the Penal Code states "Murder, injury and beating are excusable if they are committed by a husband on his wife as well as the accomplice at the moment in which he surprises them in the act of adultery."[43]
  • Haiti: Article 269 of the Penal Code states that "in the case of adultery as provided for in Article 284, the murder by a husband of his wife and/or her partner, immediately upon discovering them in flagrante delicto in the conjugal abode, is to be pardoned."
  • In two Latin American countries, similar laws were struck down over the past two decades: according to human rights lawyer Julie Mertus "in Brazil, until 1991 wife killings were considered to be noncriminal 'honor killings'; in just one year, nearly eight hundred husbands killed their wives. Similarly, in Colombia, until 1980, a husband legally could kill his wife for committing adultery."

Is it wrong to believe that honor killings are wrong in any culture? I think it's easy to say that our way of doing things is right and everyone else's wrong or not as good as ours. However, sometimes it becomes necessary to reaffirm basic human rights for all people regardless of what is perceived to be Western judgment or melding. Sometimes outdated moral codes for behavior are simply outdated moral codes for behavior. When all reason fails and emotional arguments persist along with appeals to cultural relativity, how does one properly address these issues?

It's so hard to approach these problems when any effort to interact with these issues is perceived to be a personal attack on one's culture and people.

Just to warn you this may be graphic. It's a little news piece from CNN with Wolf Blitzer:

What do you think?

New York Times


Ellen said...

Nice blog, Steven.

For me, it's a no brainer. Universal human rights have to trump political correctness. Dishonor killings are wrong. No one deserves to be summarily executed.

Ellen R. Sheeley, Author
"Reclaiming Honor in Jordan"

Muslims Against Sharia said...

The STOP HONORCIDE! campaign was launched on Mother's Day 2008. The goal of the campaign is to prosecute honorcides to the fullest extent of the law. We want honorcide to be classified as a hate crime and we advocate for every existing hate crime legislation to be amended to include honorcide.