An English health worker is standing by her “heartbreaking” decision to send her own son to prison after he became involved with drugs.

A Taliban firing squad killed a young couple in south-western Afghanistan for trying to elope, shooting them with AK-47s in front of a crowd in a lawless, militant-controlled region, officials say.

These are two stories that appeared on 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”


  • At 2011.06.11 13:44, Amanda Kendle said:

    You make such good points here. We (the lucky ones in wealthy Western countries, I mean) are often so quick to judge without considering the societal norms in place in other cultures and situations. Imagine if your child told you he was going off to be a suicide bomber – that’s something we can’t even slightly or vaguely imagine yet in some situations there would be mothers would somehow understand this (I think. I don’t know! I can’t imagine!) I don’t really have a point, just to agree that all kinds of things happen in the world that we can’t begin to understand.
    (I stopped by from the Fibro Rewind!)

    • At 2011.06.13 23:16, Maria said:

      Thanks for the visit Amanda. I can’t imagine either but it happens. I wonder whether these mothers are screaming on the inside but stay silent on the outside.

      Love & stuff
      Mrs M

    • At 2011.06.11 18:15, life in a pink fibro said:

      Interesting post. You’re right about the law and how it acts upon us. We are constrained and restrained by it. And how much of it does go against our instincts? You’ll often hear people speak of the ‘nanny’ state. I feel that laws do have the ability to take away our reasoning and our common sense. I’m all for them. To a point.

      Thanks for Rewinding at the Fibro.

      • At 2011.06.13 23:17, Maria said:

        Hi Allison,

        And when you think about it, we’re the ones that set up these laws and then we feel constrained by this thing called society.

        Thanks for the visit.

        Love & stuff
        Mrs M

      • At 2011.06.11 20:17, MultipleMum said:

        You have chosen a difficult topic here. It is uncomfortable to think about, isn’t it? The way some people are punished by death for behaviours that others wouldn’t even be reprimanded for. Other people’s lives are always so complicated and I don’t think it is ours to judge. Observe? yes. Question? yes. Judge? no. Saying hi from the Fibro.

        • At 2011.06.13 23:22, Maria said:

          Hi MultipleMum,

          Yeah it’s hard not to judge unless you think someone’s civil rights are being compromised. But then again, who sets the standard for civil rights?

          I don’t like to judge. Judging someone means that I think I’m better than they are and that’s just arrogant. Just need to ask lots and lots of questions.

          Thanks for the visit.

          Love & stuff
          Mrs M

          (Required, will not be published)