These are two stories that appeared on smh.com.au on Wednesday 15 April 2009. Both appeared in the World section. One above the other.
My aim is to not to jump on my soapbox about which act is a crime and which punishment is warranted. But it should come as no surprise that being raised in a Western country my whole life, the course the British mother took is more familiar, natural to me if you will.
But that’s exactly the point. What the Afghan parents did probably feels familiar and natural to them.
I know that the UN condemn honour killings and they should. Unfortunately in the world we live in the reality is it can never be properly policed. Well at least in rural areas that have no state police.
I have read some articles in the past year of honour killings occurring in the UK by Pakistani families; the perpetrators, mainly fathers and brothers, have been arrested and tried according to UK law.
Again, everyone will have an opinion and it is probably safe to say that most of you reading this will think that honour killings are cruel and unusual and barbaric forms of punishment and deterrents.
But these two sets of parents are similar in one way. They followed the law as their society had instructed them to. They didn’t keep the matter to themselves and deal with it in the home; they chose to adopt societal norms with regards to punishment and discipline. And both suffer life long consequences.
Now I know that’s not always the case. Parents do try to keep discipline within the home.
I just trying to stress that society has taught us to be acceptable; and what we know is familiar and would seem normal. Perhaps even to the point that we don’t question it.
What one country deems as a serious crime another doesn’t. Again, this is just an observation. We raise our children by what society dictates as normal. It is generally a minority that strays from those ‘rules’. Home births, home schooling, large families are not the norm anymore, although they seem to be making a comeback…or maybe that’s just a media beat up. That’s a whole other post.
We all survive on instinct. I know most mother’s instinct is to kill or be killed for their children. I wonder how a mother copes with an honour killing? I wonder how a mother copes with being the one to send their child to jail? I wonder what a mother in China thinks if she is forced to abort a child because it is a girl?
How strong or familiar do societal norms and pressure have to be to override instinct?
This post was originally published on my other Mum’s Word blog “Two Sets of Parents, Two Different Sets of Punishment”