When culture kills – Urvashi Butalia’s View From the South

Linked with Urvashi Butalia – India;

Published on find articles.com, first on New Internationalist, by Urvashi Butalia, December 2003.

HESHU YONES was 16 and in love. For this her father slit her throat and killed her. Heshu’s ‘crime’ was that she fell in love with a fellow student at her college. The young man belonged to a different religion and the two planned to marry–against her father’s wishes. ‘Me and you will probably never understand each other,’ Heshu wrote to her father as she prepared to run away. ‘I’m sorry I wasn’t what you wanted, but there are some things you can’t change’ …

… But what is this culture that people are so anxious to protect? It’s a culture of violence, a culture based on the oppression of women and a culture that feeds into the increasing acceptance of other forms of violence which are not necessarily gender-based.

Perhaps it’s time we learned something from those brave women’s groups who are fighting against such cultural impositions. They are the only ones who are speaking out for the victims of such violence, who are attempting to return humanity to the women who have been killed. They’re the ones who are setting up homes and shelters, persuading governments to make fairer laws. But in the end it will take much more than the efforts of a few women’s groups to persuade the world that there is no honour, only shame, in killing. (full text).

(Urvashi Butalia is an Indian writer and publisher. She lives in New Delhi).

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