Monday, July 30, 2012

Couples Face Death In India For Marrying The "Wrong" Person

I was going to write a Poe about the Aryan Nations and Chik-fil-A today, but I found this post A hideaway for India's rebel couples on the BBC, and felt I had to share this. As many Purgatorians know, I've been writing about faith-based insanity on the subcontinent for a while, in part because Hinduism gets a free pass in the West, and in part because many Hindus love to overreact against any perceived slights to their multi-god absurdist religion.

Now, let's get on with the article.
The pale 19-year-old girl, Krishna, is sitting in a small room at a police barracks in northern Haryana state.

...When asked whether her family could really kill her husband, because she married outside her caste without permission, she hides her head in the folds of her long diaphanous scarf and nods.

"Yes, yes, they can."
Buying a gun, it turns out, is not a hard thing to do in that part of India.

Her family had refused to accept her relationship with Sonu, a 22-year-old barber from a lower caste, and had arranged her marriage with her another man, whom she had never met. 
Caste in India is based on the pernicious idea of karma. Those born of a low caste can spiritually contaminate (pollute) those of a higher caste and deleteriously affect the higher caste's karma. That means marrying a lower caste individual will cause the higher caste person to be reborn as a lower form in the next life.

I hate the idea of karma, so very much.

Her family had refused to accept her relationship with Sonu, a 22-year-old barber from a lower caste, and had arranged her marriage with her another man, whom she had never met. 
Earlier this month, Krishna, daughter of an out-of-work father and a homemaker mother, slipped out of her Saharanpur home on a sultry June night, and took a bus to her boyfriend's house in neighbouring Haryana. 
The next morning, they got married at a local temple in Kurukshetra, went to the court and sought police protection.

Seeking police protection against your own family is not uncommon in India. In response to the need, the government has set up safe houses.

The court ordered the police to give the couple shelter at one of the many homes to protect runaway couples that dot Haryana. Last year more than 200 couples were given shelter in such homes. And they keep pouring in.
Faith, patriarchy, and misogyny mix together into an all to familiar recipe of suppression.

A female is "always under guardianship", says social scientist Prem Chowdhury. As a girl, under her parents, and as a woman, under her husband. "Any breach of this ideology of guardianship, control, and dependence, however small, is considered to be very threatening." 

 Relationships in the same village, outside the caste and faith, and within the same gotra (clan on father's side), are forbidden by families and hardline village councils. Kangaroo courts set up the councils often sanction killings of such "erring" couples to redeem honour.
The old ways in India are being actively challenged not so much from religious leaders (of course) but from mobile technology. Just as smart phones helped create the Arab Spring, mobile technology is shattering age-old barbaric ideas in India.

Young men and women across the divides are braving centuries of social resistance and - helped by the mobile phone and social networking sites like Facebook - are falling in love in the villages and small towns of India in greater numbers than ever before.  

Shallu was studying for a degree in computer applications, and Subhas trying to pick up a diploma in marketing when Cupid struck. 
Two years ago, says Shallu, she sent a friend request to Subhas on Facebook from her cheap Nokia phone. They had a common friend, but Subhas's Facebook page did not have his picture - "He had a picture of a baby on his profile, he was so shy," she giggles.
The two eventually had a secret wedding and had to go into hiding at one of the safe houses.

Religions keep their power by coercion. In America the coercion is often in the form of the faith-based terror of Hell. On the subcontinent, however, faith is far more aggressive.

...The couple say members of Shallu's family went to Subhas's house and asked them to "return" their girl.  
"If she doesn't return home, things can happen," a relative told Subhas's family.
I wish the couple, and others like them, well.

I won't be praying for them.

Faith is the problem.

This is Purgatory.


  1. I've worked with a number of folks from different regions in India. Mostly from the upper castes though they rarely talk about that.

    However once here a lot of them do naturalize and find others of Indian ancestry, caste be damned. It's interesting. But alas, as I said it's usually the upper castes that do it. So it avoids the arranged marriage conundrum.

  2. I am from (south) India and I hear stories like this often. It is true that honour killings still happen in India. I've heard/read that the parents hunt down their own children and kill them for falling for someone outside the caste/religion.

    Even though India is kinda developing, people still consider traditionally correct arranged marriage as always the best. Your parents choose a guy/girl for you and the person should be of the same caste/religion and the couple's horoscopes should match. It's like you marry a total stranger.

    I haven't seen/read/heard about honour killings in the part of India where I live. But you see that people here still prefer arranged marriages over love marriages (where you choose your own guy/girl to marry). Love marriages are considered bad. Talking from the point of view of the self/a girl, you're considered bad if you fall for a guy outside the caste. There'll be gossip and stuff.

    Arranged marriages are always preferred and is considered good even if it later ends up with dowry (bride price) deaths, burning of the brides because they didn't bring dowry (I've heard that most cases go unreported), wife abuse, arguments/disagreements for the rest of your life, blah blah blah...

    1. From what I have read India has an area akin to the American South: religious/backwards. In India's case, however, the northern part of the country is home of the faith-based wackiness.


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