Sunday, May 3, 2009

Saving honor at the cost of murder

In certain societies, people are prepared to go to any length, even murder, to save their honor. In the Maldives too, many a newborn baby has been gruesomely murdered to save family honor. The ghastly infanticide last January in Omadhoo, Thaa Atoll, is typical.

According to the details of the crime emerging from the ongoing trial, Aminath Hussein, Kasthoorimaage, Omadhoo, Thaa Atoll, drowned her newborn child in a tub of water. She then buried the body in the island beach. Allegedly she was helped in the act by her mother and husband. Such help from family members is a typical feature of this type of murder, perhaps in a deranged attempt to save family honor.

Even in the days when adult homicide was extremely rare in the Maldives, infanticide was relatively common. Apparently people considered infanticide as a lesser crime than other forms of homicide. However, such murders in many respects are worse than the average homicide, and must be given the strictest punishment.

[To read the details of Omadhoo murder in Dhivehi click here]


Anonymous said...

You are attempting to make this a simple thing by calling it 'honor killing,' a common practice in Pakistan and Syria. But we Maldivians will not tolerate such brutal murders. So don't encourage it.

Stewie said...

societies around the world today is so distorted! what we consider decent and not decent or ethical and unethical is just a product of our environment and our static values based on history, culture and religion.
Ego is what drives people. What honor are they trying to protect while killing their own offspring. How in the world can one justify that. Mistake is done (if it is)when "fornicated" 9 months ago, the baby does not have the pay the price for that. We are not taught to learn from mistakes and improve, but rather hide like cowards and appear self-righteous in this society of vanity.

There are many things that really does not make sense, but accepted as the norm in societies. Like going for war to achieve peace! but that can't be true. you can't kill to achieve peace!
As George Calin says:
"fighting for peace is like screwing for virginity".

Anonymous said...

I do not think it is the same as the "honor" crimes in places like Syria or Palestine. In Maldives it is just trying to hide the shame, there is no question of honor here. To keep the perpetrator safe, the child was killed. If it was an "honor" crime the woman would have been killed too.

Anonymous said...

Anon 8:09. I read the same article and I dont think that Waheed was encouraging anything by calling it "honor killing". Taking an innocent life to save honor in my opinion is an honor already lost and not worth saving... if he/she has balls, own up to it, try to give the baby a good life and move beyond the societal trauma of "babies out of wedlock".

Anonymous said...

@ Stewie: your statement "what we consider ... ... ethical and unethical is just a product of ... ... history, culture and religion" is true. Further, these 3 factors (history, culture and religion) are inter-dependent and are derived from each other. culture and religion are just facets of crowd psychology.

I also agree with you that Dr. Waheed has gone off the mark in saying such killings protect honor.

Anonymous said...

To Anonymous 8:56, you have a good point. In the honor killings that take place in Syria, Palestine and other contries in the region, family members (usually the brothers) kill a girl who has an affair with someone they don’t approve. So killing babies is not honor killing.

Stewie said...

I think some have misunderstood the article. Its not about honor killing (carried out in Arab countries mostly) that Dr waheed is refering to i guess.

We kill the new born baby to protect the family's name (honor). If the rest of the (small) society finds out that Aminath Hussein was pregnant for a child of another man than her husband, people would down upon her and her family.

Apparantly due to our social values, it does protect their image, but what i can not digest is, how do they live after doing such a horrible thing! how do they eat after killing the baby? how can they sleep over it?

Hilath said...

Dr. Waheed, don't you think society should tackle the root cause of the problem, which is unwanted preganancies?

In fact, I think you would have access to the UNFPA documentary "Unwanted Pregnancies" made about Maldives.

If you investigate deep, there will be some 'problem' with all these instances of infanticide -- such as sexual abuse, rape, or even the simple fact that the wife being forced to get pregnant again because it is the husband's wish, not the wife's. Hence, the general term "Unwanted Pregnancies."

It's easy to condemn and call for highest forms of punishment when a crime is committed. The difficult thing is grasping the fact that humans are not inherently evil but their minds become twisted or they go insane due to many other factors and circumstances contributing to it.

In fact, Dr. Waheed, I would suggest that you use your good offices to make the "Unwanted Pregnancies" documentary freely and widely available for the public. (It had one screening at Olympus Theatre during the Maldivian Documentary Festival and that was it.) It is an important film documenting various incidents, including convicted cases of infanticide and the mothers' side of the story which we rarely get to hear.

Abdullah Waheed's Blog said...

Hilath, I did not know there was a UNFPA documentary on unwanted pregnancies. Ya, it's a good idea to address the root cause of the problem.

Sadly it's the poor people in the islands who get caught up in this type of things. Well-to-do people from Male have access to birth control methods and if that fails they could always take a trip to Lanka or Trivandrum.

Anonymous said...

"...this type of things" as you refer can happen to anybody, but its an individual decision to kill or not to kill the baby.

Anonymous said...

One option would be to educate and facilitate the abortion option. there could be a criteria

within 15 or 18 days of pregnency to fit into a religious framework.