Monday, January 24, 2011

Well well, what matters it! believe that too

And do you think that unto such as you

a maggot-minded, starved fanatic crew

God gave the secret and denied it me

Well well, what matters it! believe that too

(Umer Khayyam by Robert M)

A while ago I read an article about our habit of terming suicide bombers and extremist mentally ill. The article said it is not a mental illness because putting it under this term limits our treatment options, and actually also makes us sympathetic to some extent. The writer was talking about the Palestinian children who grew up watching jihad propaganda and all. In case of Pakistan, kids grew up listening to justifications for killing women in the name of honour or anybody else in the name of religion. The law itself provides for such crimes to be committed with minimum penalties and sentences.

The Pakistan Penal Code in this regard covers Qatl-i-amd (Culpable Homicide, which varies geographically) Sections 302, 324, 337 and 338, which accommodate killers who commit the crime in the name of honour. It is defined as: “{offence committed in the name or on the pretext of honour} means an offence committed in the name or on the pretext of karo kari, siyah kari or similar other customs or practices.” The punishment for such people is minimum five years, which gives a lot of leeway for offenders in getting away by terming almost any murder an honour killing. Hence, the justifications and support this act receives is also large.

With such provisions in the law, one must not wonder if the collective psyche of the nation instead of condemning such acts actually condones them. Women have been the most targeted under these laws, for reasons starting with the man wanting to take another wife and not being able to afford two at a time, to property matters where a brother kills his sister or sisters/mother to be the sole benefactor.

The recent case for Veena Malik, a Pakistani actor, is clearly testament to the misogynist psyche where women are not only considered as a property, but also their body a ‘safe’ for the ‘honour’ of the entire country. The medias’ role in this scenario instead of being open minded and supportive has been hypocritical and extremely biased. Especially the right wing media groups like Jang, Geo, and most prominently Express 24/7. Instead of forwarding support, the whole episode has been given a religious colour, which of course is one of the best ways to instigate a reaction.

These issues need to be addressed on a serious note, especially by the secular media. Instead of keeping the messages subtle and ambiguous, due to religious and social restraints, the message should be clear and in your face. The secular media as well as civic society and other secular and liberal groups should take a stand for the lady and stand by her. Not wait for her to be a target like Salman Taseer, this time for something as petty as the choice of clothes and a few stolen hugs with a guy.

1 comment:

  1. I have recently watched a documentary titled "Zeitgeist Moving Forward", where it says that criminals such as murderers are themselves victims of some kind of violence in their childhood or abused in someway or the other. Women in Islam has no right on their own. I am afraid if the Sharia Law comes into effect than it will be "HELL" for them in this male chauvinistic society and Islam in particular. I would rather request the so-called Islamic fundamentalists to look at countries like Malaysia and Indonesia where religious tolerance is at its best. They should learn from them how they manage the affairs without giving much impetus to religion.