When love becomes crime
Dhaka Commerce College is pretty well known organization in capital of Bangladesh. Very recently (last week), 11 students were given TC Transfer Certificate for a crime. No they did not murder anyone or rob anyone, neither have they kidnapped someone and no they did not rape anyone too. Additionally if you are wondering they have not done anything illegal such as possession of illegal arms or drugs or threaten anyone or misbehaved with teachers. It might sound very strange, but let the truth be exposed. They were suspended from college because of a proposal. Here is the video link of that proposal.
The college told proposing in such manner (!) with school dress in school premises is not acceptable! And if the readers are wondering if the school has special dress for proposal or special place for it they have to be disappointed, no there is no such dress or place. These kids are teenagers, probably tried to be too cute or influenced by Bollywood cinematic experience and recorded in camera, but they have not committed any crime. The school explanation was quite bizarre as they have explained their dress and their pride or identity attached to the incident. If the students knew they would probably taken off their dress and propose on the outside of school main gate on the street and then college authority would have been alright with this proposal. So if any teenager is reading this piece make sure you know whether your school permits proposal with school dress or you have to get different dress on your bag in case you are shy of proposing without clothes. The message from school authority is loud and clear and that is- There is no place of love.
The school embodies the general people’s view or perception of love. It is regarded as obscene or vulgar or dishonor parents and teachers and society and school. Yes, if you are thinking of “HONOR KILLING” you got the perception. This is a case of “HONOR KILLING”, the school does not hold power to execute its students life otherwise they would have done it. The maximum punishment they can provide is a Transfer Certificate and without doubt to restore their “stolen” “dignity and honor” they have done that and then everyone in school living peacefully.
And in case anybody wondering does school punish a rapist or standby any victim answer is “not necessarily”. Even if victims were raped in school-dress school authority normally does not bother, then there is no challenge on their “honor”. Same applies to Acid victims or child marriages. Please take a note Bangladesh has the most number of child marriages (forced) in the world and normally that is done to prevent the family’s “honor”. Well who don’t know prevention is better than cures, that is why such forceful prevention. As long as “honor” is maintained everything is fine.
The “honor killing” situation is so horrible in neighboring Pakistan that two academy award for Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy never improved the condition. In last 88th Academy awards Chinoy famously said,”After watching this film the prime minister Nawaj Sharif was emotional and promised such crimes will not repeat”. In recent week a Pakistani 16 year old teenage girl was burnt alive as a part of “honor killing” for helping her friends elope (source- Here). What does that incident tell us? It does not matter if Malala win Nobel peace prize or Sharmeen win the Academy award it never helped the societal value, the inherent societal value remained the same; intrinsically violent.
If we look at Middle East the things are not very different in terms of societal set of values. A Yemeni father callously tortured and killed his daughter, 10, for allegedly committing adultery in the northern Dhamar province, a local official who questioned the man told Gulf News on January, 2015. On the weekend, Yemenis on social media widely circulated a photo of a tortured girl who was found dead by shepherds in a rugged area in the northern province of Ibb. Within hours, police found out that the girl was killed by her father. Colonel Mohammad Qassem Al Hadi, the director of Dhamar’s Criminal Investigation Department, said that the man admitted that he brutally tortured and shot her four times with his rifle. “We found a video clip in his mobile phone asking his daughter to confess to her mistake. The girl was bleeding and crying,” he said. The official told Gulf News that the father used different methods of torture to force her into admitting having sex with another man, including putting an iron to her skin. During the investigation, the man admitted that he threw his daughter off a cliff in the Samara Mountains in Ibb province after severely beating her (source-Here).
“Honor killing” does happen even in UK on mostly Pakistani families. It happens in India too, low caste and high caste love story always demolish the entire family of low caste. Bangladesh is not different where involved in love considered as sin and brutally allowing the punishment in form of death seems to be justice. The values were imported from Middle East and Indian subcontinent is badly suffering in so called “honor killing syndrome”. Awarding one or two individual will always get the international recognition but the prime question is how to change the situation or what can be done? In public place people get punishment and social stigma as magistrate punishes the heterosexual couples (video-Here). How the changes of view can happen where people are so fanatic about their socio-religious value? When will people realize killing somebody for being in love never protects their “honor”? The same false interpretation of “honor” which does not allow human love to flourish, the same false interpretation of “honor” that forces females to wear veil or cover their organ. It is high time to bust all the myth about “honor” that label “love”; a beautiful human attribute to a crime, it is high time to replace individual “honors” from their family’s female member’s organ to their own work and honesty. Ironically, in these South Asian countries bollywood musical romantic movies and movie-stars are very popular and yet they are not ready to accept love as very normal and beautiful human attribute. Romantic actors such as Shahrukh Khan, Aamir Khan or Salman Khan are probably the most celebrated celebrity for their romantic movies in this part of the world but yet the general notion for people is always anti-romantic. That perfectly captures the inherent paradoxical hypocrisy of the individuals, society and its values. The scariest part is probably the similar mindset of college authority and teachers who suspended students to the Yemeni father who kills her 10 year old daughter out of suspect and restore his “honor”. The feeling of “honor” or “dishonor” bring college teachers of Dhaka Commerce College, a magistrate who punishes couple in Bangladesh, the numerous Pakistani brothers or fathers who kill their sister or daughter in same line. They are against “love” and will never hesitate to execute their authority and power to punish whoever dares to “dishonor” their pride. The educational difference between all of them never really matters as they all equally share the same idea, ”no mercy of dishonoring” on their set of rules. So, clearly through current education system never makes a difference in such decision making. All what matters is showing barbaric power to their students or family member or to innocent pedestrian. Forcing power restores the imaginary “honor” and the idea of modern humanism becomes a mockery. The solution is in the hand of powerful and ordinary people and society; if they society does permit such heinous act of different version of “honor killing” and still feels proud about their act and after washing the blood of their daughter and son enjoy romantic love oriented bollywood movies and still refer life code from an ancient dark age “holy” scripture; “we” the sane human has to find a way to stop such act. The influence of religion on society has to get less in order to improve such hypocritical killing or punishment. The religion and its ideas are virus here, now it is up to the modern society if we want to eradicate it or just pretend nothing happened and get busy on personal life and personal problems and such crimes can go on. And then the “politically correct” portion will tell us “every human is same and every culture is same” and we will agree happily with huge smile on our face and will pretend to not see such events and by any rarest chance if we see, we will award one or two person for making documentaries as a token and will forget about it after five minutes. Life will go on, as well as love, every love story is special and unique. We as human should stand up for love and if that does not happen the species deserves to be extinct.
-MD Salim Uddin