Honour Crimes Essay

900 words - 4 pages

Within the Pakistani and Afghani cultures, when a crime is committed or suspected, the family of the perpetrators must suffer some dishonor in retaliation. Often this retaliation occurs in the form of abuse or the killing of someone within their family, usually a woman. This is referred to as an honour crime or an honour killing. In Western cultures this is deemed unacceptable and against the values of the human race. Although we, as individuals living in Western society find this practice morally abhorrent, we have no reasonable basis on which to condemn it. We can never really say whether or not a cultural practice is acceptable unless we are able to rid ourselves of our preconceptions and biases. Ridding ourselves of the preconceptions, however, is impossible. This is because; the values one has are dependent on the environment we are exposed to within our culture, the norms of behavior we accept come from the institutions also formed within a particular culture and the cultural bias that taints our opinions of other cultures and the practices.
Values are defined as the ideas that are important in life. Within a culture the accepted cultural values vary over time. In many Western societies, human life has become valued over everything else. However, in some Middle-eastern cultures a family’s honour is considered more important than one person’s life, thus leading to the committing of honour crimes. One woman, Mukhtar Mai, wrote about her experience with honour crimes in the book ‘In the Name of Honour’2. Her younger brother was accused of raping a woman from another family and so in retaliation, her father offered her up to the opposing family. She was raped by four men and then thrown out into the night. In this way, her entire family is dishonored because a woman who has been raped will not marry. This value on honour over a human life is viewed as unacceptable because of the values Western society imparts onto the people who have accepted this culture as their own. However, we cannot decisively say that one practice from another culture is unacceptable, nor condemn it based only on our values.
Norms for a culture are often dictated by the institutions the people who subscribe to the culture are a part of. Within Middle Eastern cultures, family is the most important institution that can ever be entered into even though it is not by choice. We have no control about which family or culture we are born into. When a family is dishonored by another, the norm is to retaliate by dishonoring that family often in the form of an attack on a woman within that family. Mukhtar Mai stated within her book that ‘men...

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