Whose Honor? – Cover Story

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India – the land of diversity, the land where many societies live in harmony or perhaps the right phrasing would be “used to” live in harmony. As the days pass by, the number of people in India aren’t reducing, but instead increasing at a very high rate. For the country with the second largest population in the world, this shouldn’t come as much surprise.
It’s not only the population that seems to be rising; as the number of people in society increase, the issues that hound the nation seem to be increasing with them. Internal war is on the agenda these days with Naxalites being deemed by our honorable Prime Minister as the most potent threat to Internal Security. They proved their lethal capacities in the recent past by derailing the Gyaneshwari Express, or so claim the government. While these internal security threats are indeed a social problem that needs to be fought immediately, these are the terrors that are reported worldwide by the media each day. What about the issues that are hidden? They are every day events which may seem small in comparison, but when we look at it from a wider perspective, they are terrors too.
Every girl in the world, I’m sure, has dreamt of the day she gets married. I’ve a sister too who dreams or fantasizes of getting married to that “dream man”. Do all the women in India find that dream man? Unfortunately, the answer to this question is a big NO. When I was a child, I used to fight a lot with my grandmother. In playfulness, I’d once hit her hard. When I’d repented the move a moment later, she told me, “Vinu, no one in this world can be patient like a woman can.” Today, I realize what she said is true because most social issues that India has to deal with on a war note have the woman as its victim. Female infanticide, dowry deaths, honor killings, child abuse, rape… the list is longer, but I stop here. Are these separate issues? No. They are all interrelated. They are all equally heinous. More importantly, most of the time, they are all hidden. Now because of the power of media, it is all coming out in the open.

Today, India is reeling under these terrorisms. Many of you would have been to a Christian wedding. The couple makes a pledge or a vow which says that the groom shall love the bride in poverty or in wealth, in sickness or in health and they shall love and cherish each other for as long as they live. In every religion which exists in our diverse nation, a wedding does have these vows in some form or the other. Yet in a lot of cases, the greed for money overcomes that love that is there at one time. Perhaps it is the pressure from the parents that makes the man desirous of that wealth, but one does ponder, if the love for his wife changed instantly when a matter of wealth arose, was there love in his heart for her when the nuptials were solemnized? Taking dowry these days is against the law and punishable as per the Indian Penal Code, but in how many cases do the parents of the girl actually state that and refuse to give dowry? Very few indeed… Fearing for the well being of their darling daughter, the parents do give what they can to the groom and his family, expressing it as a “gift” rather than as dowry. These “gifts” can rise to vulgar proportions in certain communities. Abuse in any form is heinous, but a bride who is being harassed for dowry suffers both mental and physical abuse constantly as there is pressure on her not only from her parents but on her parents too, to ensure that society doesn’t cast malicious glances towards them.. The times may have changed but the ideals and traditions have not…for a girl, making a marriage successful is still very essential. So the girl bears it patiently, but when the abuse exceeds the limit she can take, rather than unload all her worries on her parents, she thinks of taking the “honorable” way out…she kills herself, or the husband kills her to punish her for “cheating” his family out of that wealth. Of course, this results again in another heinous practice, bride burning. The vow takes a new meaning now doesn’t it? The couple is together, yes, but the husband is happy only if the girl has enough wealth to satisfy the greed of the in-laws, and as for the love, well that goes extinct.

Well, I’m the eternal optimist. I like to see the glass half full even though the realistic world seems to be anything but positive. Let us assume that all goes well, the groom and his family are satisfied with the wealth that the girl’s family “gift” to them. The physical abuse will reduce to a great length and the love, which might have got extinguished if the fates hadn’t smiled on the couple, still continues to flourish at a decent level. The husband and wife unite in all respects and the news soon arrives that a new member is coming into the family. Now, the talks will revert to only one topic. No, not how the couple will love and cherish the little one when it arrives, but what sex is the baby. Modern age once again has put a nice high hurdle in this respect, but has it made sure that the hurdle is high enough that no one can jump over it? On the outside, yes…it seems to be working and the babies are born without knowledge whether it is a boy or a girl. Yet if one does examine closely, in rural India and sometimes even in urban India too, cases are there though hidden well beneath the inquisitive eyes of the world! The people of medical expertise are as vulnerable to bribes as the people who are put to make sure these practices don’t happen. Prior knowledge of the baby being a girl child and the decisions taken thereafter are no longer in the hands of the mother. “No, we want a male heir to continue the family genealogy” is the mantra. So rather than letting the girl live to see the light of dawn, the “honorable” way is opted for again and before her feet can touch the earth, she is back in heaven, in His arms wondering why she wasn’t wanted. If the girl is allowed to live, she is denied her father’s love and the rest of the family follows suit…the mother is ostrasized and she bears the brunt of this mental torture. The father’s role in this is conveiniently ignored. The girl grows up, with some love, and once she turns of a marriageable age and sometimes even earlier, the father starts looking for an “alliance” so he can off load his burden of responsibility. If a male child is born into the family subsequently, all love and affection is diverted towards him and perhaps it is just as well that the girl goes away into a family that “might” (and I use that word loosely) love her more. No heed is given to the girl’s legal age, and far away from straying glances, the under-aged girl is given to a man who is as old as her father. Organizations that fight for Woman and Child rights these days are helping in reducing such social evils, but the fact is, unless we approach it with relentless effort it shall remain, very much active.

Love… such a virtuous emotion. It is there in every heart, be it for a person or for property. In our nation however, love is governed; governed by laws of caste, creed, religion, color and even region. Girls are forbidden from falling in love and can cause an upheaval of sorts if she so does. Arranged marriages are still the norm and restricted to within the community or clan. Feelings don’t really matter here at all. However deep and true love may be. I opened the newspaper this evening, and on the national page, I found the headline “14 year old found dead”. On reading further, it was actually two girls, one fourteen years old and her younger step-sister aged twelve. No, it wasn’t suicide because of some wealth and health issues of the family, but it was a “death of honor”. Both were strangulated by their own relatives, having conned them into coming along with them, hence taking them away from their mother who would have prevented that sin. And what pray tell was their crime? Love! The elder girl was in love with a boy whose ethnic details were unacceptable to the relatives. Not to the mother or father, but to the relatives. Rather than let the love continue to blemish their “family name”, they sought to end it “honorably”. The elder was killed for love, the younger because she bore witness to the crime. If pure love had blemished the name of the family, cruel cold-blooded murder did little to make it any better. Honor killings are rampant around the country, be it for young ladies in love or married women who are “suspected” of loving another man. The community whose eyes look for a way to make the other life suffer will always point fingers accusing of betrayal of love. Has the purity of the husband’s love been lost on this accusation? In a lot of cases, the answer is yes. The husband requests the community to save his “honor” by giving the wife a death sentence that matches the pain he has been caused. The people of course have no issues. They cast the glance in the first place, they stone the “guilty” wife in public with the husband watching and rejoicing. Sadly, the decisions taken by such “judges” and their “verdicts” have no sense of reasoning. The people and family just mutely accept the verdict pronounced with no appeals.
If all these crimes are heinous, then rape is no less sinful. Going against the will of the girl to abuse her sexually, not taking into consideration what her age is, her muffled screams or her pleading eyes…that’s immoral! Love, trust and ethics are thrown into the wastebasket as hyperactive hormones and lust that can’t be satisfied overpowers them and the sin is committed. The man loses nothing but integrity here, the girl on the other hand loses her dreams, her integrity, her pride and most of all her honor! The man is usually careful, so unless the girl can identify her attacker, the sin remains hidden from the world. The girl doesn’t dare to reveal she has been vulnerable and tries to keep that secret. Once the emotions are overpowering, she takes that “honorable” way out yet again. Death… the ultimate escape! The times are changing and the girl doesn’t live past the sin itself, or rather she is not allowed to. The abuse continues relentlessly till death, and all evidence is mutilated by “scientific” methods, so even careless and forced attacks make the killer more deadly and when he knows he has gotten away with it once, the urge to satisfy lust becomes more and a rapist turns into a serial killer.
Whose “honor” is lost here? Is it the families’, the husband’s, the criminal’s or the victim’s? I received a message today. It goes thus:

People always pray for a boy
Not for the girl
Blessings of elders are for male
Not for the female

But when in need of wealth
People pray to Goddess Laxmi
For success in education
People pray to Goddess Saraswati
For removal of tension
People pray to Goddess Amba
And to escape from the devil
People pray to Goddess Kali

Now tell me, why do people hesitate to have a female in the family,
While those whom they pray to during trouble, are females?
Save the girl child!!!
Spread the beautiful message!!
Let’s give unconditional love to the girl child!!!

If the message doesn’t spread soon, if the girl child doesn’t get that unconditional love from her loved ones, and if the nation doesn’t unite in its efforts to stop the crimes against women, it will not be any of those “honors” that are blemished. It’ll be the HONOR OF THE NATION that will be turned to dust.

Poetry & writing to me are to me, a breath of fresh air in a life that is sometimes covered by the smoke of sorrow or self doubt. They also become the sweets I share to celebrate when life offers me a reason to. But most of all, they are to me, my life. For each word I write is a piece of my heart, a thought that just had to find its way into the world.

22 thoughts on “Whose Honor? – Cover Story

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  1. I'm speechless!! Your thoughts and ideas expressed in this post are marvelous and very noble indeed!!These are the issues we hear about practically everyday. All medias have been covering these issues on a daily basis. Headlines keep screeching of these things happening all over. Great Effort!! Well Done!! :DCongrats on your TRIPLE POST!! SUPERMAN!! 😀

  2. What about the man who seduced them? The pedophile, child abusive so and so? Wish he had been killed not these two children!Triple Post?! Wow!

  3. @Rumya,of course.. these are everyday headlines and not any recent or past history! they need focus more too.. so that they come to the forefront and get the attention it deserves from the people.the no. of post doesn't make me superman or anything dear.. 🙂 glad i could do my part for the team.. scoobedius did his too! 😀

  4. @Avada,my pleasure, though our boat wouldn't have sunk!! glad u liked my effort and u did a fantastic job too! 😀

  5. Loved to read something from u apart from those lovely poetic lines.Well problems hav been there as always…being a guy ain't east too…what can actually change all this is creating awareness among people…making people know that it's much more necessary for a girl to be independent that a guy!givin death penalty to rapists!thngs cud change…it's all in the hands of the youth…apathy wun work!Nice motivating post!

  6. agree…..i have seen this happen…..they may not say it in public….we had a family living close by….who first had twin daughter….but never celebrated that…..but then after about 3 years….the wife conceived a boy and you shld have seen the celebration…..the whole society was called for the Naming Ceremony…. i was so disappointed with them…that i didn't even attend it……..i believe it's happening more cause……..women are dependent on men for almost everything……especially financially……i don't agree….any women will be patient enough if she would have been earning her own bread and butter……she would have beaten the C*** out of her husband…..the post is really good….touching every aspect of the issues……,,/

  7. Hi Vinay, Thats good contribution rm ur side. I;d say the naxalism is of course becoming a threat, but the situations that are inspiring ppl to join them are nothing but the ones created by the gevernment and our system..so they shd be tackled very carefully.. becoz, they are some ppl ut of us, who would been similar to us if thing could have been same as that of us. COming to the female issues, i second you in every example that u mentioned here.. girls and boys shall together bring the equality, harmny in sciety..it can not be done by any either of them alone…Honor killings, i cant understand this concept, as you rigtly said whose honor is going/coming is a biggest question..:) On the whole, its good composition vinay..good selection of figures too..:) Keep going man!!

  8. Woah! OMG… shocking! I read a similar story in a magazine once, basically this girl was told she was going on holiday but was actually going to get married!I think that people who think only boy children are good are incredibly biast.Very well written…

  9. @Hitesh,yes, not in public.. such terrors are hidden from the outside world usually.. and a woman can be independent too.. agree with that as well.thanks! 🙂

  10. @Prams,naxalism is not my cuppa tea.. i tried it.. can't write much on it. :)the issues, yes.. lots are there.. some for guys too i guess, but most of them on gals. and awareness is what is needed! whose honor is indeed the question! glad u liked it.. the pic choice by Garfixis again! 🙂

  11. @Rosh,yes, when the love is strong, the tricks do come,.. after all marriage shd not be forced na! long time no see, h r u? 🙂

  12. That is so true! Our country should hang it's head in shame, for the way it treats it's women. Very well written, and a very important issue, that India needs to address quickly too.

  13. @Words n Dreamz,yes indeed it is issue that needs to be on a cover.. coz these are latest issues always.. honor of the country at stake..!

  14. Three posts by you is remarkable Leo. I am sorry I was unable to stand by and do my job for the team 🙁 feel so guilty. This is a wonderfully done post and a winner as far as my vote goes 10/10. Good luck

  15. @Tikki,thanks dear. hope the judges see the same way 🙂 glad u liked it and it's okay. health does take first priority..

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