Shrink's Views

ramblings of an unknown psychiatrist

Killing Love and Honour

Posted by Dheeraj Kattula on September 21, 2009

Lately I have been thinking about love. I might write more on that topic. Today’ s newspaper has given a new twist to my knowledge of love and its consequences.

It may be natural to fall in love. Any sane society regulates such ‘falls’ through social net norms. Everything will not be acceptable anywhere. There exists a continuum of  levels of strictness. In the world, India might be rated as a ‘strict’ country. Even in India there are ‘free’ communities and ‘strict’ communities. I have worked with Santhals, a tribe in eastern India, which is broad-minded. They would not mind their members marrying according to their choice. I also hear reports of honor killings in Haryana, a north Indian state where families kill their own kin for having trespassed the norms set by their society.

Youth have a way of getting around such problems. One method is to elope. In such a case the couple could settle in some far off land. If possible they keep in touch with few relatives. They could make a come back if situations are conducive. This would be usually after the birth of a son!

There is another way of getting around things- Kill the fellows who could kill you. This is precisely what Sonam, a 19-year-old from Haryana did with her 20-year-old boyfriend Naveen. You can read that report here.

I wondered which was a worse decision when one’s love faced with opposition. Suicide or Elopement. One was an exit from life itself, including all its pleasures . The other is an escape only from painful consequences of love. Eloping though could be easily seen as a cowardly act. If the community you live in believes in dastardly honor killings, then eloping could be a practical and life saving measure.

In such context where does Sonam’s case fit in? Is it heroic action for love? Is it an act of self defense? Or is it just barbaric?

Psychodynamically speaking depression is anger turned inward. We know that depression could lead to suicide. We feel sad when someone commits suicide. Here we see that Sonam’s case is different. Her anger was turned outside. This made her commit homicide.

We feel upset when we hear of honor killings. Deep inside few of us feel that the dead had some responsiblity in what happened. Why did these ‘fools’ fall in love? Could they not regulate their feelings? What do you do if the one you like is already married? You would carry on with your life and look elsewhere. Don’t you?  Did these people not have other options at all? Were they fully innocent? Considering all this, one might not sympathize with the ones killed.

In this case one might feel outraged at what the girl has done. She has laid to rest- her whole family! There was no evidence of them doing any wrong. Surely, Sonam was bad and detestable. Isn’t it? The answer is that we do not know. Sonam would have known her family and villagers better. I wish she avoided the ligature. She could have sedated them and then eloped. Sonam and Naveen could have started a new life in a city. Haryana could change in 10 years from now. They could have re-united with their families after many years.  It would have been a good story for a Bollywood plot. But look at what has happened. It is tragic with Sonam having very few sympathizers.

Sonam has to face the legal consequences of what she has done and so do the scores of honor killers. What we see is that in few communities people’s passion for romance or honour crosses the limits of rationality. There is a price for such insanity and somebody has to pay.

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2 Responses to “Killing Love and Honour”

  1. Roshan said

    Honour Killing are shame to our society and its values. Human life is far more valuable than any fake honour. These acts must be abolished from their very roots. Promotion of open and rational mindset is the need of the hour. Good post, brave act. Keep going.

    • Dheeraj Kattula said

      Thanks for visiting my blog and taking time to comment.

      You said it absolutely right when you said “Human life is far more valuable than any fake honour. These acts must be abolished from their very roots. Promotion of open and rational mindset is the need of the hour.”

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