If there is one thing extreme patriarchs loathe the most it is women exercising free will. Erroneous beliefs about men having some sort of authority over a woman’s decisions, especially with regards to major life goals such as education, marriage, and career are etched in the depths of cultural beliefs.
Three brothers in Islamabad murdered their newly married 24-year-old sister on January 22 out of anger that she eloped three months ago and married a man of her own choosing. The woman was also two months pregnant to make matters more complex.
This is similar to many stories in the past, popularly known as a form of honor killing. Cold-hearted and frankly, psychopathological labels should be given to murderers who maim another human life in the name of honor. Authorities need to work to bring the three brothers to trial.
While many people believe in spreading a message of love in an overall intolerant global community right now, we have citizens’ own family members that seek to spread hate. Love marriages are foolishly taken upon egos and termed inappropriate.
Rights activists need to take note. The notion of murder to falsely protect family respect and honor requires a complete restructuring of the primitive psyche; murder in any form is criminal and no amount of honor can be rescued by taking a life. The honor and respect of a family do not lie in the oppression of its members, be they male or female. This cultural mindset has found a home in the mentalities of many Pakistanis.
The values such cases propagate are reflective of bullying and oppression of non-male genders. Islamabad police have a responsibility to the husband of the murdered woman to arrest her three alleged murders. Harsh charges should be dealt for fleeing the crime scene; this would help enforce a system of accountability. We require more accountability laws with regards to criminal acts so that suspects realize the devastating impacts they have on families. The young sister in this case, her husband and their unborn child committed no crimes yet had their lives torn apart and taken.
The state needs to act ferociously to bring such perpetrators to task in this and every other similar case. Murder has been taken too loosely in a cultural context and the desensitization will only be stopped when there is harsh action taken once and for all. As law enforcement does its job, or so we urge, lawmakers need to focus on strict reforms to protect women’s right to choice and free will. This is not a privilege granted by any entity but a fundamental right.