ByÂ Arshiya Mediratta:
“Honor killings are acts of vengeance, usually death, committed by male family members against female family members, who are held to have brought dishonor upon the family or the community.”
Ghazala Javed, the famous Pakistani pop and Pashto singer, was shot dead along with her father on June 18, 2012. There are various speculations on who could have monitored this monstrous act and a majority of the suspicion is laid on her ex-husband. She defied the decree of the Taliban against the ban of music and dance and continued to sing in her native language. Also, around six months prior to her demise; she had filed for divorce from her husband Jehangir Khan- both of which were seen as acts that breached the moral grounds of Islam.
The apparent ‘honor killing’ of Ghazala Javed occurred because she expressed resistance towards the ideologies of the fundamentalists and stood up for herself after discovering that her husband had another wife. Women all around the world suffer from discriminations at various levels and they have always been underestimated and only considered worthy of staying at home and producing children. It’s cases like these that bring attention to the plight of women who decide what they want to do with their lives. It became increasingly difficult for Javed to record songs or perform with the rising tyranny of the Taliban. Her plea for divorce was also against the traditional values of Islam wherein a woman cannot refuse her husband or demand separation.
Even though there is no clear evidence on who plotted her assassination, is it okay for men to settle scores through murder? Despite so many organizations that work towards women empowerment and women equality, why is it that a woman cannot be certain of her safety outside the realm of her household? Just like a man, it’s only fair that a woman is given the right to choose her profession and protect her interests without the interference of radicals. Ghazala was an iconic figure to ladies in and outside of her province who wanted to pursue their careers in music, and her death is another example of the imbalance in our society. Categorizing her slaying as an ‘honor killing’ simply because her ideals did not coincide with that of the community’s is a slap to the human race. Courage and independence is something that needs to be rewarded, not silenced. This leads us to the bigger question- how acceptable is it for a 21st century worldview to mask a gruesome homicide under the name of religion?