“It’s a girl! It’s a girl,” the mid wife told the mother who was exhausted yet anxious to hold her baby for the first time. Meanwhile the father, who had been impatiently pacing outside the room could not wait either to set his eyes for the first time on his off-spring.
These are the reactions that normal families have when a child is born. There’s excitement, happiness and above all, love.
With each passing day following the birth, the parents weave new dreams; hoping that their child would be able to avoid life’s imperfections and lead a life filled with all the blessings that a mind can fathom.
In the case of daughters, mothers being mothers nurture their baby girls and guide them through their years to become confident young girls of tomorrow. If need be, mothers don’t hesitate from playing the bad cop to ensure that when the time comes, their daughters are able to make the right choices for themselves. On the other hand, fathers focus all their energies on pampering their little “princesses” in every way possible.
While both the parents play their loving parts to bring up their daughters during childhood, things begin to change as the girl comes of age. There is a distinct sense of discrimination that begins to frustrate the girl-child as she grows old.
The most disturbing yet most commonly practiced example of this discrimination comes at the time of marriage.
Unfortunately, when it comes to marriage the son is allowed to marry out of his choice without too much trouble, on the other hand for a daughter to even mention her interest in a boy can become a matter of life and death in the household.
At first she is reminded about the honour of her family and how her “faltering” ways can damage it. God forbid, if she sticks to her decision she stands the risk of being handed out a harsh punishment, which can range from being locked up to being killed!
This whole need to snub a girl from marrying out of her own choice and the consequent prevalence of honor crime, inevitably bring to mind some glaring questions.
Why must a girl be killed in the name of honour just because she chose to marry someone she loves? Isn’t a girl allowed to marry the man she loves? Isn’t she a human? Doesn’t she have a right to live her life according to the way she wants?
Even after decades of efforts to eliminate honor crime in our region, hundreds of thousands of girls are subdue when it comes to making the most important decision of their lives. Parents can at least meet the person once rather than just rejecting him immediately. Many options can come up only if parents are ready to sit together and talk instead shushing their daughters on such topics.
In the past few months alone there have been scores of news items reporting the killing of girls in the name of honour. What adds to the concern is that these murders are not taking place in far flung areas but the culprits are from the well known cities of my country. Cities that include Lahore, Faisalabad, Peshawar etc.
Honor crime is not just “restricted” to killing but recent incidents have also shown an increase in the number of acid attacks, as if the girl is nothing but a marionette in the hands of the family.
There is no crime in marrying your daughter to the man that she loves. A little communication with your daughters can possibly not hurt more than killing her – your little princess – with your own hands!
Sadly, in most of the cases culprits feel no shame for the crime that they commit. The nonsensical notion of saving their family’s honour is more important than protecting the child who was once a source of many smiles on the face of the tired father; who was once her mother’s best friend.