Monday, January 07, 2008

The Other Honor Killings

They died from carbon monoxide poisoning, soot and smoke inhalation Dec. 29, 2007. Rajesh Kumar Arora, his wife, Rani, who was five months pregnant, and their three year old son, Vansh, perished in the apartment blaze set by Subhash Chander, 57, Rani's father. Chander has been charged with three counts of first-degree murder, intentional homicide of an unborn child, and aggravated arson.

The India born Chander told police he set the deadly fire because of a cultural slight. His son-in-law was of a lower caste and this became intolerable to the father-in-law who lived across the street from the couple for several years since their marriage. Castes have been outlawed in India for 60 years, but the practice persists in many parts of India and is exported wherever emigrants settle. The caste system has been used for hundreds of years to justify hereditary entitlements and privileges, as well as prejudices and discrimination. It also has justified murders called honor killings. Practitioners believe they have been ordained by the various Hindu gods to be of one caste or another, the higher the caste, the better. Intercaste marriage is strongly discouraged.

In the past several months, Chicago has experienced a spat of suspicious honor type killings. The Chander killing incident was the third case in five months. A father set himself and his two sons on fire in November. The three survived, but the boys remain in critical condition. A 32 year old mother set her house on fire killing her two children and herself last August.

In Chicago, all of the perpetrators were Hindu, all of the victims were Hindu. Islam was nowhere involved. Honor killing pre-dates Islam and maybe even Hinduism. It is very old and still appeals to the primitive mind of people who have little else beyond archaic codes of honor. Still, nothing can adequately explain the horrific murder of one's own children simply to make oneself feel better.

The Chicago Tribune

The life of Indigo Red is full of adventure. Tune in next time for the Further Adventures of Indigo Red.


ERS said...

I believe the Chander case is a dishonor killing.

Ellen R. Sheeley, Author
"Reclaiming Honor in Jordan"

Indigo Red said...

Thank you Ellen for stopping by. I agree that this was, indeed, a dishonor killing. No matter what we call it, though, this behavior and philosophy has no place in a civililized society.

Note on Ellen R. Sheeley:
"In early 2003, Ellen R. Sheeley began to educate herself about "honor" killings, particularly those that take place in Jordan. That summer she journeyed from her home in San Francisco, California, USA to Amman, Jordan, where she learned of the needs for empirical, objective, baseline data pertaining to the Jordanian public's attitudes, opinions, and beliefs about "honor" killings and for a sustained marketing campaign to change hearts and minds. As a seasoned marketing professional, she was confident she had the ability and the qualifications to fulfill these needs. Unable to secure funding or sponsorship from the obvious and even the not-so-obvious sources and, yet, unwilling for mere lack of financial support to give up on the needs of the at-risk individuals and the victims, she quit her job, moved from her home, placed her personal effects in storage, bade adieu to her loved ones, and returned to Amman in October 2005 to perform the work pro bono, funded by her private savings. "Reclaiming Honor in Jordan" is a result of this effort and reveals a number of surprising findings about public opinion on this subject. Profits from this book will contribute to "honor" killings work."

Her book, "Reclaiming Honor in Jordan", is available from Amazon.