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Honor killing is a practice that is prevalent in large number of countries all over the world. It strictly aims at killing of individuals, mainly by family members or associated relatives. This form of homicide is often backed up by the perpetrators because of the dishonor or insult, which is brought out by the victims due to their shameful acts (Standish, 2014). The varieties of shameful acts are often considered as the reason of bringing dishonor and ill fame by the families. It is observed that the nations practicing patriarchal dominance experience the highest level of incidences of honor killing. The following report consists of a comparative study of honor killing in two nations of the world namely Morocco and India. These comparisons are done based on the incidences and present day scenarios in the two nations. These comparisons also consist of a comparative analysis of the efforts taken by the two nations to reduce the heinous crime and save the victims from such crimes.
Women are mostly the main victims found in cases of honor killing but several cases have also been recorded where males along with the females have been victimized. The idea of killing in the name of honor usually arises from their beliefs of rights to maintain and protect the different rituals, customs, cultures and various ethical issues in the name of religions, castes, conducts and social behavior. Killing of women by the family members (on the belief of saving the traditions and cultures) for being degraded and insulted by them, is often considered heinous crimes in the rest of the world except those nations who predict them to be important service to nations and their religions (Welchman, 2013).
Morocco is a country in Northern Africa popularly known as Kingdom of Morocco and is a blend of Arab, Indigenous Berber, Sub Saharan African and European influences. With a strong Islamic base in the country, a patriarchal dominancy is common in the country. Honor killings are common occurrences in the country in the name of the religion and culture, which act as the social backdrop. Excuses provided by them in the sake of the Koran (which is their holy book often) consists of offenses such as marital infidelity, pre-marital sex, flirting and many others. India also faces similar cases of honor killing mainly in places of northern India where there is the presence of Khap panchayat but there are also differences in many aspects in comparison to Morocco.
Unlike Islamic traditions, where the religion is held as the main concern among the society deciding the fate of the female victim (punishable by death), the Indians who are mainly Hindus consider the age-old traditions as the main governing factors for deciding the fate of a woman who has gone against traditions to fulfill her wishes. Unlike the Moroccans, the Hindus are more concerned with the caste systems and their hierarchical positions in the society. Besides, coming into relationships with partners belonging to other caste have resulted in brutal killing of both the partners by any family members of either the partners.
Islam families in Morocco are in most cases found to treat women as mere commodities that are their own properties. This is strongly believed by most men that they can take any decisions on behalf of their properties and this mentality is the main root for the cause of honor killing. The reason often depicted for conducting honor killings is mainly adultery where the women chooses another partner outside marriage or have relationships with men before marriages. Cases have even been reported that a husband killed his wife based upon the dream where he had been betrayed by his wife. This case gives an insight into the traditional beliefs and orthodoxies that harbor in the minds of the males of the society who treat women as any object that can be destroyed on wishes (Ahmed, 2013).
In India, lovable relatives turn into torturous perpetrators once the female chooses her partner from another caste as inter caste marriages are often considered as a sin amongst the leaders and politicians of the Khap panchayat. This attitude is inculcated in the growing adolescents even from early childhood since the mothers also support this fierce behavior themselves and even help the males in murdering the victims (Bazi, 2014). Here unlike the Islams who perform such heinous activity in the name of Koran, the Hindus perform them in order to maintain their traditions of age-old customs based on inter caste marriages and only supports intra sub caste marriages. Unlike the Indians, Moroccans do not have panchayat system and the entire country faces similar crimes unlike India where particular areas face such crimes. Moreover, Indians do not treat women as commodities like that of Moroccans but they have strict restrictions so that the women need to follow in order to live peacefully with the family members.
However, both in India and Morocco, both the female and also her partner are often brutally murdered and often parents of both the family often come together to perform the acts. It has cited interests among the researchers about the extent of the regressive measure that the authority can take to punish the individuals even to establishing treaty among them. Even family members including the mothers, sisters, relatives are often found to be possessing a similar such mentality and supports the violence taking place against the victim. Other than these issues, wearing clothes, talking attitudes and body languages of women are often considered the factors that let the patriarchal society to decide what is the just and correct ways according to their culture and tradition. Often any modifications and changes in the factors mentioned above lets the society to be judgmental enough to decide the lives of persons that can be ruined easily without the fear of legal complications, in the sake of maintaining religious sanctity and prejudices.
This is found to be similar in both the countries as both the countries are very much concerned about the females of the family and their behaviors and attitudes. Similarly to the Moroccans, Indians also follow particular dress codes, traditions, behaviors, body languages and attitudes of the female counterparts, which need to be strictly traditional, otherwise that might become serious issues in the society leading to punishable offences and even killings (Fildis, 2013).
These killings in Morocco are based on the ideas and perceptions of the male authority of the family who often consider this act as a help to the society which cleans the society of unnecessary burden. Adultery, premarital affairs, divorce from abusive partners, modern mentality of freedom are the causes for which honor killing are reported across entire Morocco (Amado, 2014). However, it must be clearly understood that the murders that occur in the name of the Koran are unjust and unforgivable for no religion in the world can accept the sacrifice of lives for maintaining traditions, customs and rituals. However, in India both the family members and the leaders of the panchayats take decisions of the course of treatment that should be done by the family unlike the Moroccans where the male counterpart can take decisions all by himself without permission from the local authority.
In many cases it is also observed in India, that marriages among different religions such as Hindus and Muslims are also big issues that lead to honor killing due to the traditions that each of the religions possess. However, another significant factor for honor killing in the socio-political contexts is the animosity that dates back to the Hindu-Muslim riots. This destroyed huge number of families during the post independence era where women from the opposite religions were brutally murdered and raped by males of the opposite religions leading to bloodshed that could never be forgotten by Indians ever in history. These difficult situations have given rise to hatred among the religions towards each other that result in honor killing even today in India. In Morocco, inter religious conflicts are not observed like that of India and does not form the backdrop of the crimes.
The biggest drawback observed in this field was the penalty code of 418 in Morocco that has given the perpetrators a wide scope of practicing honor killing without being suitably punished. About 200 women are killed every year for the lack of proper governing systems and therefore the women fail to receive shelter from such brutal incidents (Caffaro, Mulas & Schimdt, 2016). 418 has previously allowed only the male under extenuating circumstances could murder the female, if caught in some act in flagrante delicto. However, that code was revised in 2003 giving similar rights to both the men and the women to perform similar activity in cases of the opposite partner found to be associated with such crimes. However, this code has some loopholes which cannot be accepted by any individual thriving in the modern century. A research article on the different penalty codes of crime of honor published in 2013 declares that article 418 has stated that lesser penalties would be given to crimes of murder, severe beating and thrashing creating wounds, if the husband catches his wife engaged into adultery with her partner (Cihangir, 2013). However, India is very different from Morocco in this arena. The Indian courts have applied strong monitoring bodies in order to keep a close tract on the local polices who are often found to be engaged in alliances with the local government and indeed help the perpetrators. Recent cases have seen the Indian court to sentence five men to death who murdered a newlywed couple belonging to same caste (Gupta, 2015). Similar strong steps have been taken over the years, which had resulted in establishing a foundation of strictness and transparency that had prevented free killing of women in the name of honor. The Indian government has tried its best in preventing the honor killings as the ‘barbaric and shameful practice’ that needs to be completely eliminated from the country in order to embrace modernizations and betterment into the lives of the Indians. In 2012, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh ordered the Cabinet level commission to prepare laws and legislations to stop honor killing. He ordered strong actions to be taken against the Khap panchayat officials such as prosecuting them on their passing sanctions of murders for couples who married inter caste partners. He also revocated the laws of 30 days stay order for special marriage act as it was seen the perpetrators to be utilizing the month’s time to find the couples and kill them for the sake of honor (Elakkary et al., 2014).
Varieties of reasons were cited by the perpetrators to clarify the reasons of their acceptance of honor killing, the foremost of them being braking of rules and traditions of the family bringing down the honor and respect of the Islam families. Various regional workshops are conducted over a large areas of North Africa that has helped to learn about the notions and the prejudices considered by the families behind their particular set of activities. Different NGOs are continuously holding workshops to modify the beliefs and customs but however the results have not been satisfactory (Gill, strange & Roberts, 2014). In India similar steps have also been taken by government and social communities against this crime. Even there are many steps that are yet to be taken by the Indian government in order to fulfill the various requirements that would help in correct establishment of the human rights and their choices to take their own decisions irrespective of the demands of the society.
Here one can raise a question on the human rights that a person would possess which does not dictate him to take the life of a person no matter how much guilt the opposite person have conducted , other than to save his own life if in danger. Moroccan government is not seen to implement any codes that would clearly prohibit honor killing ideas from the very core and declare it as a breach in the fundamental rights of a person (Chesler & Bloom, 2012). Immigration and refugee board of Canada had conducted surveys and published their articles where it was stated that Morocco is a nation where honor killing practices are sanctioned socially and men who kill their wives or relatives are exempted by laws in Morocco along with Syria and Haiti (Eisner & Ghuneim, 2013). Becoming pregnant before marriage is considered to be a grave dishonor and death is the only punishment according to the Moroccans. Here lies a great difference with India where the government along with local NGOs have applied their utmost strength and determination for prohibiting these practices. Since the government has remained silent on the issue for a long time, the entire initiative has been taken by the Moroccan women to bring changes into the systems so that their daughters might face a better future.
The Indian government still faces a large number of obstacles in the arena of the local officials who remain in close association with the perpetrator groups rather than protecting the victim. Unless the monitoring bodies are themselves responsible for the protection of various citizens, the initiatives taken by the governments will not be successful ( Kumar, 2015). However, it is indeed true that the oppositions and the resistances faced by the Indian government are not that much severe as those opposed by the Islamic rebels and politicians. From the scenario of the successes in reducing the rate of honor killing, one cannot deny the fact that India will reach the winning line as promised and make a safer nation for the populations in the coming future (Mangali & Anchan, 2016). In comparison to India, Morocco has failed to implement the reforms until now although promises are believed to be fulfilled in future.
From the comparative studies, one can find that India has indeed proceeded with the modernizations of traditions and customs but Moroccons had been firm in their decisions and have not been able to accept changes even to this day thereby leaving a concern for the future generations.
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Amado, L. E. (2004). Sexual and bodily rights as human rights in the Middle East and North Africa. Reproductive Health Matters, 12(23), 125-128.
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Caffaro, F., Mulas, C., & Schmidt, S. (2016). The perception of honour-related violence in female and male university students from Morocco, Cameroon and Italy. Sex Roles, 1-18.
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