Mumbai bishop slams honour crime, a barbarity in the family that must be fought
Mumbai (AsiaNews) - A few metres of wall separate the homes of Sonu Kumar, s 20 year-old Hindu Dalit man, and Dhanishta, a 18 year-old Muslim woman, both from Chopla, a village some 60 kilometres from New Delhi.
Caste and religious differences were never a problem between the two families, who on certain occasions shared gifts and each other's celebrations. Until two days ago, that is, when Dhanishta's brothers cut her throat and stabbed Sonu to death. Their crime was falling in love and getting married.
"This is an inhuman and cruel story," said Mgr Savio Fernandes, auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Mumbai. "It places us in front of a culture of death that shows no respect for human life."
Muslims represent about 25 per cent of the village population. Dalits, i.e. untouchables, account for about a quarter of the majority Hindu community.
According to police, Sonu and Dhanishta had been seeing each other for two years. When they decided to marry, their families resisted. His parents sent him to Delhi to work. Her mother and brothers forbade her from seeing him, and started to look for "a good match".
However, in late October, the couple secretly eloped in Ghaziabad. Despite their marriage, the two continued to live with their families until they were discovered.
The families turned to village elders, who confirmed "the impossibility" of their union. At that point, the newly wed fled. On Saturday, when the couple returned to the village, her brothers killed them in front of everyone.
Police arrested Dhanishta's mother, who instigated the crime, and two of her brothers. Four other brothers are missing.
"Honour killing" refers to the murder of a relative when his or her action is seen as a humiliation for the family; for example, when he or she marries a person of a different caste.
"Unfortunately, this is still common practice in some parts of India," Dr Carvalho told AsiaNews. however, for the member of the Pontifical Academy for Life," we should stop talking about 'honour killing': there is no honour in premeditated murder of another human being."
According to the UN Population Fund, some 5,000 women are victims of honour killings each year around the world. In 2010, India's National Crimes Record Bureau registered 8,391 dowry-related murders of young brides. That is one murder every hour.
For Mumbai's Auxiliary Bishop Mgr Savio Fernandes, "People have to become agents of change," starting with parents.
"The family is the basic unit of society," he explained. "Everything that happens within it is reflected on a larger scale in society. It is here that awareness about gender must begin and where the values of respect, dignity, honesty and morality must be taught."
"Our experience tells us that in a family the mother has the most influence on the children," he added. "Still both parents should teach their children, boys and girls, respect for each other. Otherwise, if they treat the son as superior and the daughter as inferior, such disparity and inequality will be reflected in society."