India Reacts To Its Own Honor Killing
We are afraid of the unknown; however the greatest danger often leaps at us from the known - often what we call our own. Such was the case with Nirupama Pathak, a 22-year-old Hindu woman from eastern India.
Nirupama came from a Brahmin family, the highest in the age-old Hindu caste system. When she fell in love with a man from a lower caste, she earned her family’s ire. The family accused her of bringing dishonor to them and tarnishing their religion. They mounted pressure on her to break off her relationship.
A few days after Nirupama returned from her school in the capital city, New Delhi, she was found dead in her bedroom. The police arrested her mother, Sudha Pathak, and charged her with Nirupama's murder. The autopsy conducted on Nirupama’s body revealed that she was pregnant, thereby giving fuel to the suspicion that the family killed her for fear of being ostracized by society.
Honor killing is generally associated with the Muslims, as an overwhelming number of such cases happen in the Muslim countries. Nonetheless, Nirupama’s case highlights that other societies are not immune from this loathsome tradition.
India is a strange country. Some of its urban population lives in the twenty-first century and tolerates unmarried couples living together. In the villages, however, there are places with no paved roads, no electricity, and people living in the medieval time with medieval cultures and values. In between these extremes lie myriad variations, but regardless of where or how they live, there are still many Indians that believe in the caste system.
Nirupama‘s death has raised a huge outcry in the nation. People filed in candlelight watch, such as this New Delhi photo shows, demanding her death to be prosecuted as an honor killing.
What is most heartening is that the Indian Prime Minister, Man Mohan Singh, took note of the people’s uproar and ordered a cabinet-level commission to consider tough penalties in honor killings.
This is the difference between civilized nations and Muslim countries such as Iran, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, and a host of other nations, who turn blind eyes to the perpetrators of honor killings, and whose officials obliquely endorse the practice.