Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Questions to those who claimed seventeen Afghan lives in one night

By now, everyone is probably aware of the gruesome, violent incident in which seventeen persons, including two women, were beheaded in a nocturnal attack in the Kajaki district of the volatile province of Helmand, still partially under the control of the Taliban, in Afghanistan.

We humans, a violent species, live in a violent world, cherish and nurture violent tendencies, often engage in violent actions over meaningless and trivial reasons, and are exposed to expressions of violence on a daily basis, in the news, in the popular media, in culture and traditions and so forth - so much so that we, as a species, have probably gotten inured to violence by now. I, for instance, am not easily moved by depictions of extreme violence televised or projected onscreen, perhaps because I am never unconscious of the unreality, the make-believe, the clever and painstaking CGI that brings forth such gory effects to life. But the news of the beheadings - the horrific violence perpetrated in real life - bothered me, upset me, and shocked the normally garrulous me into silence on this, until now.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Brief Reflexions on Posterity's Chances

I have a question which has been tugging at the back of my mind for a while.
Does religion turn a person stupid, or does a stupid person feel attracted towards religion? Is it one, or both? Is there a chicken-and-egg scenario, or is it a feedback loop of some sort?

I am usually good at pushing such existentialist questions to the back of my mind. What prompted the return of this problem to the forebrain with renewed vigor today was the following situation.

The celebrated American Astronaut, Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon, passed away today, at 82 years of age. Intimating this piece of news in a post today, FreeThoughtBlogger Ophelia Benson - whom I read regularly - snarkily reminded her readers of a long-standing urban legend.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Education? Not the Panacea for Epidemic of Honor Killing

In certain societies with deeply entrenched misogyny, violence, sexual abuse and grievous assaults targeted at women are often perpetrated with impunity under the silhouette of tribal customs and traditions with their roots in religion. A despicably evil instance of such violence is what is rather sinisterly euphemized as 'honor killing', a ghastly practice in which families, who perceive that their daughters have disgraced them in some way (mostly by choosing to marry a man of their own, and not the family's, choice), 'reclaim' their 'honor' by murdering the said daughters. This practice is popular in various Arab-Islamic countries such as Pakistan, Afghanistan, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and others; although it is by no means restricted to Islamic communities and occurs in other societies steeped in a culture of patriarchal authority and perverted sense of honor (such as in certain parts of India), a staggering 91 percent of honor killings worldwide are committed in Islamic households, including those in Western nations (including the UK, Sweden and Canada), according to a 2010 study on worldwide trends in honor killings.

During any discourse on honor killings (what I like to term as (dis)honor or (dis)honor(able) killings, because there is nothing honorable about murdering family members guided by a perverted, warped sense of what honor is), it is customary to bring up the poor education and backward economic status of the perpetrators and their cultures/communities. It is generally considered that education would bring enlightenment and economic parity, which would pave the path towards a more moderate and humane understanding of life, essentially more nuanced interpretations of religious dicta that would be more egalitarian. But recent events provide evidence to the contrary; that insistence on bookish education can not be the panacea against the profoundly entrenched misogyny of religious, tribalist, patriarchal communities.