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Issue No.: 560 | February 2014

Being the Honour of the Family: A Matter of Pride or Burden?

Rupali Tyagi
The verdict in the Arushi-Hemraj double murder case attracted its own share of controversies. Rajesh and Nupur Talwar were convicted primarily on the basis of the "last seen theory” and the investigating agencies say the crime was committed in a fit of rage, when the Talwar couple found their 14 year old daughter, Arushi Talwar in a compromising position with their house-help Hemraj.

Although no strong evidence of this theory has been made public, as of now, let us assume that this is the truth. Under such situations, this conviction raises another set of questions on the way we raise out girl sand the perception we have of their individuality.

Even if Arushi, a 14 year old teenager, was found physically close to Hemraj, was "killing” her the only option? Why was it so tough for the Talwar couple to consider the situation at hand as an act of immaturity on the part of the teenager and hence, forgive and to explain her? And a very important question:

"Had the Talwar couple reacted in the same fashion if instead of Arushi and Hemraj, it was their ‘son’ who was found in a compromising position with a female house-help?”

The most probable answer to the above question is a "NO”. In that case, most likely, Rajesh Talwar would have supported and tried to save his son, while putting the entire blame on the female involved.

Why this discrimination? Just because Arushi was a girl, or rather, the "honour” of the family! What kind of "honour” is it? The one that isolates a teenager from the human tendency to learn from mistakes! And why, because of her gender?

At the time of the crime, Arushi was 14 years old, a teenager at the onset of her puberty and a girl at a sensitive emotional stage. She was as vulnerable to hormonal changes as boys her age. She was also equally vulnerable to making mistakes in the flow of peer pressure or emotional and sexual excitement. Something that is very common with "boys and girls” of that age.

What was needed was an open communication between Arushi and her parents, instead she was "killed” by her own parents, because being a girl, she was probably considered the "possession” of her father and the "honour” of the family, and in the opinion of her family, she "disgraced” them.

At the ground level, looking at various aspects, in my opinion, this is also a form of "honour killing”. Arushi was found close to Hemraj, but did anyone ever try to probe the reason for it? Maybe she was a lonely teenager whose doctor parents never had time to have a "talk” with her. The case also brings up the deadly consequences of lack of communication between parents and children, especially teenagers.

And, as I conclude, I would again like to emphasize on the "Honour” aspect. Traditionally, Women/Girls have been considered the honour of the family, which should ideally be a matter of pride, but with such incidents, being the "honour of the family” is now maybe a matter of burden. Do we, as girls and women of this country, desire to have "such kind” of honour? The one that deprives us from learning from our mistakes and might eventually cost us our lives!

MMS, Indiain Institute of Business Management,
Navi Mumbai.





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Being the Honour of the Family: A Matter of Pride or Burden?

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