Most honor killings affect young women or girls who have done no real wrong in the eyes of most of the world. But in the eyes of their families or communities, they are the root of all evil. How is it possible, though, that someone might become convinced that the death of a two-day-old girl is somehow necessary in order to retain a family’s honor? Sadly, that was exactly what happened way back in 2010, and it’s a story being told and retold again seven years later in 2017.
Having premarital sex or engaging in sexual relations out of wedlock in some regions of the world is a much more criminal act than any of us might realize–so criminal, in fact, that the conception of a baby during such this act could be reason enough to end a life. When a 25-year-old mother was impregnated without first marrying, her grandmother and the rest of the family decided that the baby’s life should be forfeit. The grandmother strangled the baby, which was then buried in the garden out back. Luckily, an anonymous call made to the police led to the secret being uncovered.
It turns out that the family bribed a doctor and secretary to keep the birth off of traditional registries. The father of the child was in the military at the time of the murder, and so he was obviously not involved. In addition to the doctor and secretary, police arrested the mother and six others in connection to the honor killing.
As barbaric as this incident might sound, it’s hardly the first–or the last. Sadly, it’s also far from the worst.
In Pakistan, arranged marriages are a traditional norm, and marrying for any other reason–especially against the wishes of your own family–is an invitation for disaster. In 2014, one couple had barely been married for a week before they were murdered. Family members participated in the killings, slitting the throats of their loved ones. If that weren’t bad enough, children were forced to watch as the couple bled to death in an apparent warning: this could happen to you if you marry out of love. Learn and respect the traditional way, or suffer a gruesome end.
Five people were arrested after the couple was murdered.
In countries that hold such traditions, women generally have little cultural of financial value outside of marriage. As terrible as this is, it helps some people in these communities accept that these killings might even be okay or necessary. It isn’t unprecedented for pregnant women to fall victim to the same end for similar reasons. Many of these cases are either unreported or ignored by the proper authorities, even as global outrage to these crimes continues to swell. The world is changing fast, but brutal customs continue to persist. How many more will die?