Can the killing of a family member on the ground of shame ever be justified

Honor killing or the act of killing a family member who has brought shame to the family has been raising concerns in different parts of the world, hence, catching the critical attention of the international community. The victims of this culture-based phenomenon, or crime for most people, are the women. The perpetrators, on the other hand, are usually the men in the family such as the father, brother, first cousin or husband of the female victim with her mother or sister acting as an accomplice by luring her to the place where the planned honor killing will be executed.

Most occurrences of honor killings are being linked to the Islamic culture since the alleged shame as its justification is rooted in the treatment of women in Muslim societies. The wide range of offenses considered as shameful which brings about the perpetration of honor killings include marital infidelity, pre-marital sex, flirting, or even failing to serve a meal on time (Mayell, 2002). Although honor killings are associated with Islam, this is not an absolutely accurate statement since according to Mayell (2002) the Koran or the book of Islamic teachings does not permit nor sanction the act. It is the concept of women being considered as property of the males in their family which supports this phenomenon. As the owner of the property, the male has the right to decide its fate turning the women into a commodity which can be exchanged, bought and sold. Honor killings, thus, can be surmised as not merely culture-based but more specifically gender-based.

Among the controversial occurrences of honor killings are the following Noor Faleh Almaleki was killed in Arizona by her Iraqi-born father because she was becoming too Westernized in 2007, in the Sicilian town of Palermo, Renato Di Felice was found guilty of purposely killing his wife, Maria Concetta-Pitas, in 2003, but served only two days in prison last year, local church authorities in Macerata, a small town in central Italy, defended Carletti-Baleani who had attempted to kill his by beating her until she was unconscious, wrapping her body in a plastic bag and dumping it into a trash bin on the outskirts of town after she asked for a divorce because her husband cheated on her.

The most basic argument in justifying the so-called honor killing phenomenon is that it is cultural. Take for instance the case of a woman coming from a Muslim society who integrates Western culture in her lifestyle, murdered by her father because Western living is just too shameful tainting the honor of the whole family in the eyes of the community from where she came. Stereotyping and double standard is still dominant such that if a woman cheats on her man and gets killed, she must have brought it upon herself but interestingly enough, when its a woman who becomes violent out of passion, it is not so easily tolerated.

Momigliano (2010) quoted Farian Sabahi, a teacher of Islamic history at the University of Turin, saying that violence against women is widespread in almost any country, regardless of ethnicity or religion. The cases that have caught rising concerns may be culture-based. However, there is no denying that these cases also involve and similarly stands in the same ground as the so-called crimes of passion.

In plain language, honor killing is an extreme case of violence committed against women. The causes may have evolved in the modern times, but it remains to be, in a less coated declaration, the old, undying, stereotypical, double-standard prevalently practiced against women, more unfortunately, in specific societies such as Islam. But can culture and gender justify the taking of human life
To say the least, gender, ethnicity and culture and has been the primordial bases of discrimination, persecution and violence against the inferior class in the said categories. However, history has proven that this practice of inequality is in our current state of enlightenment as morally perverse. Respect for human life transcends issues on gender, ethnicity and culture.

The reaction of outrage and condemnation for honor killings coming from the rest of the world creates a statement of commonality, that is, distinctions created by gender, ethnicity and culture should not violate the most common and basic observance of the value of human life.

In the hierarchy of human rights, shame and honor may, in some societies be above the value of human life. However, the scale of shame and honor differs all throughout the world. Hence, such cannot be fairly used as a gauge for justifying acts of honor killings especially for those who refuse to accept meaning of honor and shame as accepted in another society. What is honorable or shameful for some may not stand as sufficient in the standard of the rest of the world as to what is honorable and shameful. The value of human life being above issues of shame and honor is something that a mans conscience can always justify no matter what the gender or the ethnicity or cultural roots one may have come from.

It is always the conscience which decides what is justified and what is abhorring. Having been confronted with the question Can the killing of a family member on the ground of shame ever be justified The wholeness of my being as a member of the human race screams a resounding NO


Post a Comment