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Letter: Exposing honour killings is not tirade against Indians

Published on Sunday, April 18, 2010 Email To Friend    Print Version

Dear Sir:

Congratulations to Ms Casandra Miller for her informed letter addressed as an open letter to Mr McKeeva Bush and Ms Juliana O'Connor-Conolly. It takes a bold individual to tackle these concerns; this time a woman takes the lead in alerting the citizens of the Cayman Islands what is ahead, while the men of the Cayman Islands sit and say nothing, or attack her from behind.

Ms Miller’s letter is not to be mistakenly looked on as an attack or tirade against Indians. Her letter should be praised and appreciated for bringing your attention to the realities of what is facing the people of the Cayman Islands. It is not fiction, nor creative, it is factual and historical, and every word she said is true.

An honour killing is also called a “customary killing” and is defined as the murder of a family member or clan member by one or more fellow family members where the murderers (and potentially the wider community) believe the victim to have brought dishonour upon the family, clan, or community. This perceived dishonour is normally the result of (a) utilising dress codes unacceptable to the family; (b) wanting out of an arranged marriage or choosing to marry by own choice; (c) engaging in certain sexual acts; or (d) engaging in relations with the opposite sex.

These killings result from the perception that defence of honour justifies killing a person whose behaviour, such as engaging in relations with the opposite sex, dishonours their clan or family. These killings result from the perception by certain groups like Hindus and Muslims that it is the only resolution to the problem of a disobedient family member straying away from the rules of their culture, which are thousands of years old.

According to a United Nations report, the number of honour killings worldwide is as high as 5,000 or more, including eight beheadings. Muslims are not the only religious group who kill to save the honour of their families. In Pakistan’s rural areas, one hears daily about boys and girls falling in love and fleeing their home towns after marrying in court to escape being killed. But invariably they are traced by their relatives and shot dead.

But in India (“Shining India”) the situation is the same. If you check the archives of the Los Angeles Times, a man was killed after he married the girl of his choice. It appears that their customs don’t allow marriages between members of the same caste (surprisingly, since in Pakistan such couples are killed if they don’t belong to the same caste or “biradari”).

Ms Miller’s report is to be commended but is only a sneak peak or preview to the real picture of the horrors that occur in this Eastern culture or religion. It makes one wonder why this kind of thing happens in the twenty-first century, and how long it will take India to join the group of civilized nations. But the elite of India are far too preoccupied with getting super-power status rather than attending to their social problems like illiteracy and poverty. They keep their poor and underprivileged under constant suppression. American non-profit organisations are forced to carry aid to the poor in India.

They need to start creating equal opportunities for other religions to encroach upon their territory. Indian and Muslim women remain behind a veil as personal property of anonymity. These societies treat its women as wealth to be possessed and kept fettered inside the secure environs of home.

Nadia Abu Amar was an Israeli Arab who desired her freedom, but she was not tolerated. She could not save herself from being killed by the male relatives of her family in the name of salvaging honour. A woman is expected to fulfill her duty to maintain her family honour at all costs, even if that amounts to settling for an unhappy arranged marriage.

With the proposed hospital staff and immigration influx there is no doubt that the social and religious face of the Cayman Islands will change and they will have to put some stringent laws in place to protect everyone from cultural or customary unacceptable behaviour where a life could be taken. Kudos, Ms Miller. Good work, you have great vision. Not shortsighted at all.

Thank you, Ms Casandra Miller, for opening the eyes of the people of Cayman.

D. Stacado
New York, USA
 
Reads : 1262

Comments:

Ricardo Tatum:
D. Stacado

You are obviously not from the Cayman Islands; Casandra Miller is.
I am originally from the Cayman Islands, now live in Britain and have lived in Jamaica, the USA and Canada, all nominally Christian countries.
There have been Indian nationals living in the Cayman Islands from the late 1980s.
Some of the best doctors working at the George Town hospital, treating Caymanians and all other residents of the Cayman Islands have hailed from India and are respected and loved members of Caymanian society.
I worked with a crew of Indian engineers upgrading the CUC facility back in the early 1990s, ate with them, socialised with them and we remain fast friends until this day. Many of them have returned to work in Cayman for the contractor that originally brought them to Cayman, who is now Dart's engineering contractor.
Local establishments in the Cayman Islands have a number of Indian nationals on their staff involved in security and restaurant businesses in the Cayman Islands as we speak.
How do you think the nationals of India working in the Cayman Islands and have been for years now, feel about the hate-filled vitriol that you and Casandra Miller have put forth in print?
I am asking you and Casandra Miller to seriously think about your own values and Christianity, if Christians you claim to be.
Casandra Miller is Caymanian and would well know of the 'Christian' heritage of wife beating and domestic abuse that is a part of Caymanian society but is rarely spoken of but does not define every Caymanian family.
What brings me to question is why has Casandra Miller chosen to attack the Indian population at precisely this time when a hospital project is being proposed when she could have done so many years before now.
As she has said in her letter, 'there is more here than meets the eye' and as a resident of New York, maybe you should first address the violence that your home 'Christian' city is well known for before you choose to support Casandra Miller.
My question is does Casandra Miller's priest or pastor and congregation of whichever Christian church she is a member of in the Cayman Islands support her views also?
It will now be very interesting to see if the Cayman Ministers Association or any other Christian organisations remain totally silent on this issue.

Michael Anderson:
D. Stacado New York - The honor killings Ms Miller referred to have nothing to do with religion, but rather the tribal or ethnic caste system that still controls many of the poorer regions of India, Pakistan, etc; very similar to the Caymans treatment of Jamaicans under the current immigration rollover.

Ms Millerís letter should not be appreciated or praised. This letter does not promote acceptance and tolerance - two mainstays of Christianity; but it highlights ignorance and xenophobia. Do you really think a well educated qualified Indian doctor is going to come from the same uneducated tribal region that still practices tribal beliefs? Most of his staff studied in the US or UK. By the way, Dr Shetty donates free operations to the poor all the time; he is a Philanthropist.

He was Mother Theresa's (now a Christian Saint) personal physician. I wonder if Mother Theresa, an icon of Christianity, had the same phobia that Ms Miller has before she went for a checkup. No; Mother Theresa accepted all as God's children, regardless of race, creed, and color.

If we judge a religion based on violence; then why is it that Bombay (the highest crime city in India) has a crime rate less than 10 percent of the safest city in the US, your hometown, New York? Must be a lot of violent Christians beating on their wives. God asks us to open our eyes and our hearts, not close them with racial and xenophobic rants. Ms Miller did not study other religions or cultures; if she did, perhaps she would see the world through a Christianís eyes, like mother Theresa. Ms Miller was way wrong.

F. Lopez:
Breathe. Are D. Stacado and C. Miller related? Or is it a mutual admiration society of two? What a load of biased bunkum! OK - let's get a principle on the table - though why I am trying to reason with such prejudiced ignorance is beyond me - but I'll try - because education is a marvelous thing. All societies, including Cayman, a country of Christian heritage, are violent against women. Generally it is known as domestic violence, but there are other names too, like rape, beatings, abuse, murder, abduction, bullying, and sexual discrimination. It is as rampant in Cayman as it is in many other nations - Cayman residents don't particularly go for so-called honour killings, but we have a shameful list of dishonouring women of our own. Thus, the problem is patriarchy, not religion or religious culture for that matter - except human culture in general - where it is believed that women are somehow less, weaker, subservient, and second class to men and boys. Religion doesn't help of course; especially patriarchal religions, of which Christianity is a sublime example. But religions and faith do progress, thank God; they are not static, they modernise and learn that the human cultural ignorance of the past is not, in fact, God's way, and women all around the world now have legislation, at least, to protect them from such ignorance.
But let's get back to honour killings in India. Yes, to Indian national shame, they exist. Mostly in Pakistan amongst some Muslim communities according to known statistics but they do exist amongst other Indian groups, including some Hindus. But such killings are predominantly committed amongst the ill-educated. That is no excuse of course - and it is a problem that India continues to rectify through their legal and justice system. It takes time for human ignorance to dissipate. Just like it takes time for religious people to grow up and realise they, despite their Holy books, are not God and only see partially, in a poor reflection, as St Paul might have put it.
Now these letters about honour killings and Indians and Hindus and Muslims: I am glad they have been printed because education can only occur if people are prepared to air their fears and prejudices. But let's make something clear; whatever religion or culture comes to the Cayman Islands; abides by the laws of the Cayman Islands so domestic violence of any kind will not be tolerated if it is brought out into the open. But please let this be an opportunity to bring out Cayman's own shameful present history of discrimination and violent acts against women. Let's not turn a blind eye to husbands and boyfriends beating their partners; let's not turn a blind eye to rape, to incest, to discrimination and harassment in the workplace, to demeaning talk about women and girls. Cayman does not tolerate these things officially; but in practice. Who are we kidding - there is too much cover up, too much silence, too much turning the other way.
I think the thing that saddens me most about these two letters of Stacado and Miller, is they have the air of holier-than-thou religious zeal that claims their own religious and national tradition is without human corruption, and beyond the same criticisms they dole out, but the truth is all of human society has to humble itself and recognise the most divine of principles. We are all equal, even though we do not all have the same advantages, we are all equal and our cultures, our laws, and yes, even our religions, including our Holy books, must keep changing until that divine truth is a realisation on Earth. Then the Kingdom Of Heaven will be here.


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