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So Why Call Her Bad? From Her, Kings Are Born!

Jan 6, 2005
Metro-Vancouver, B.C., Canada
Although I often have struggled with my cultural identity in this patchwork nation of Canada, I have always retained a sense of pride and devotion to my religion, Sikhism. The Sikh community's integral contribution to Canadian society in business, politics and philanthropy has helped me to maintain this unbroken connection.

As an ardent feminist as well, I have always been especially proud of the fact that Sikhism, a religion born in patriarchal 15th-century India, holds gender equality as one of its core tenets and explicitly advocates respect for women as equals.

But my pride in my religion has not been an unwavering one, especially when actions in the community are completely antithetical to what the religion advocates, and what I believe in as a person.

One of these is the seriousness of physical and emotional abuse of women in the Punjabi-Sikh community, and the accompanying complacency surrounding the topic in the community at large.

The Punjabi Community Health Centre (PCHC), an advocacy group based in Peel Region, has called violence against women "the most silent kept secret within the Sikh community" and described the role of the Sikh community in confronting the problem and aiding abused women as "pathetic."

With a religion whose holy scriptures written more than 500 years ago explicitly challenged the inferiority of women and whose founders elevated and emphasized women's social status to that of equals, why then, in a research study conducted by the PCHC, is wife abuse in the Sikh community considered a serious problem by 75 per cent of the Sikhs surveyed?

Wally Oppal, British Columbia's attorney-general and a Sikh, has even called domestic violence a "cancer" in the community. His comments were made after a string of Sikh women were murdered, allegedly by their husbands, in the Vancouver area in 2007. After such blunt claims, Oppal was accused by some in the community as being a traitor to his ethnicity and culture.

On top of this troubling accusation of "treachery" and the obvious denial within the community, the harrowing possibility exists that gender-based oppression is not just limited to women in intimate partner relationships, but to unborn Sikh daughters as well.

While the nationwide average according to Statistics Canada is 105 male births to every 100 female births, a 2003 study by the Institute of Marriage and Family Canada found that in Surrey, B.C. – populated heavily by Sikh Canadian families – there were 109 boys to every 100 girls.

There is no conclusive public data that would prove these numbers were the result of sex-selective abortions. However, the statistics are deeply troubling in light of allegations last year that several Punjabi Canadian newspapers (including a Mississauga-based one) were carrying advertisements by ultrasound clinics promoting female foeticide. The allegations, made by the head of a B.C.-based immigrant society, were countered by one of the ultrasound clinics that claimed there was no proof regarding how couples were using ultrasound data.

The gap between the gender equality explicitly called for in Sikhism and its practice is deeply disturbing, though in some ways, not surprising. Indeed, other religions also have been labelled as racist or sexist when in reality only a chosen few engage in these behaviours and there is absolutely nothing within the faith that promotes or supports such attitudes or actions.

Regardless of whether violence against women in the Sikh community is the result of a deeply rooted chauvinism in Punjabi culture or other reasons, what is more disconcerting is the complacency of Sikhs in terms of understanding and tackling the issue.

By publicly acknowledging what now are regarded as individual or private matters, by engaging Sikh men and challenging the still very male-dominated atmosphere of Sikh temples by including more women in leadership roles, a sense of community consciousness can emerge that will not tolerate the physical and emotional abuse of Sikh women.

In the more than 100 years since Sikhs first immigrated to Canada, they have proven to be a resourceful, dynamic and engaged religious community that has tackled issues of external prejudice and religious rights in Canada.

However, the same level of will and leadership must be shown to end one of the most serious yet least acknowledged problems within the Sikh community.

Jasmeet Sidhu is a university student.


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1947-2014 (Archived)
Jun 17, 2004
re: Silent Crisis Within a Community

I humbly submit that shame not be placed on one's religion. Sometimes it is impossible to separate the "practice" of religion from community and culture. So many gurdwaras were built once a critical mass of Sikh-Punjabi immigrants was formed. Therefore, many gurdwaras identify with Punjab roots. But let me say one more thing. Violence against women occurs in almost every religion and culture and community. The abuse of women is not a shame for "Punjabis" either. Violence against women happens one incident at a time. There is one victim and one perpertator at a time. And deep down inside individuals who abuse others know they are wrong -- here, in the Punjab, in Sikhism, in other religions and communities. Guilt for the abuse falls on the individual. Guilt for the silence falls on the community.

More information

World Health Organization - Multi-country Study on Women's Health and Domestic Violence against Women


Feb 25, 2008
re: Silent Crisis Within a Community

Quote "I humbly submit that shame not be placed on one's religion. Sometimes it is impossible to separate the "practice" of religion from community and culture."

Strong and precise statement about the truth that is most time misunderstood. It comes down to hypocrisy of so called Sikhs, as said by aad0002 ji, it is the culture they adore more than Sikhism. Treatment of women, caste system, dowry greed, a few to state, are evil like cultural ego feed, well openly practiced by Sikh hypocrites in Punjab and abroad as well. Regardless what they claim, they are no where close to Guru message and, they dont care about Guru message either so to speak. Shame is on those who practice it, then claim to be Sikhs. Bogus remains bogus.

Gyani Jarnail Singh

Sawa lakh se EK larraoan
Jul 4, 2004
re: Silent Crisis Within a Community

Blaming..."Klayug"..etc is also merely shifting blame.
There is a Shabad in the SGGS by Sri Guru nanak Ji...clearly explaining this blame game.
First a little background.
The story is that Guru nanak ji and Bhai mardaana Ji on their travels came to a Holy City where celebrations in honour of Bhagwaan Krishan were in progress......and some people ( Pandits) were doing soemthing shameful ( Surprised ??)..and the common talk going around was... ITS KALYUG...so what else do we expect ??? blah blah blah.
Guru Ji then uchaared this shabad.... The Stars are the Very SAME ( as in SATYUG and other supposedly GOOD YUGS !!)..the SUN is the same..the earth is the SAME.... NOTHING has changed.
Its the MAN...doing the EVIL DEED this is to be BLAMED...not the Sun, the stars, the earth, the heavens..the time..or the Kalyug ??
A Bad workman always blames his tools..NEVER his own bad workmanship/lack of hardwork/abilities...
Similarly we are so quick to jump on..OH Its KALYUG..Ghor kalyug hai..so naturally.....fathers rape daughters...priests rape schoolgirls...granddads rape children..priests rape small boys..nuns rape boys..blah blah blah....and granthis steal golucks..sgpc jathedars steal gurdwara langgar funds and rations..its all due to the Bad bad..KALYUG..what a MONSTER..oh what a releif if SATYUG were here..suddenly all will be crime free..peace on earth..baloney...BS big time. Its MAN that does evil due to his own actions..no matter he is in a GURDWARA among the " holy saints " or in PRISON among rapists and murderers !!! The same SUN shines on the Gurdwara as well as the maximum security prison.
GURBANI is all time TRUTH and very clear...no beating around the bush...blame games...
Gyani Jarnail Singh


1947-2014 (Archived)
Jun 17, 2004
Re: Silent Crisis Within a Community

[FONT=verdana,arial,helvetica,sans-serif]Fam Physician
Vol. 54, No. 12, December 2008, pp.1722 - 1725
Copyright © 2008 by The College of Family Physicians of Canada
[/FONT] Reflections

Burdened whispers

Amritpal Singh Arora, MD CCFP
[SIZE=-1] Family physician in Burnaby, BC [/SIZE]
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In the past few years, there have been numerous high-profile cases of domestic violence in the South Asian community of British Columbia. These cases have led to an increased focus on an oft-neglected subject. Research in this area, although scarce, has shown a complex interplay between patriarchy, cultural expectations, and a desire for autonomy.

As a part of my residency in family medicine, I decided to explore the effects of domestic abuse on South Asian women in British Columbia. The intent of this exploration was to develop a better understanding of their experiences, coping strategies, and possible barriers to seeking support. Eleven South Asian women who identified themselves as victims of domestic abuse were interviewed in a combination of one-to-one and group interviews. Circumstances around the abuse, their methods of coping, and the effects it has had on their lives were discussed. They were also asked about the support available to them and possible barriers they faced in accessing this support.

Common themes from the interviews were analyzed and used as inspiration to produce a work of fiction. I hope that this piece will provide family physicians with insight into the unique struggles faced by South Asian victims of abuse and serve as an impetus to identifying and supporting women at risk.
I would like to extend my sincere gratitude to the women who participated in this study. Their immeasurable courage and strength made such work possible.

Burdened whispers
Simran’s head is heavy, like she is 5 again, wearing Papa Ji’s starched blue turban; the first and last wraps form a perfect point resting on the bridge of her nose. She sits by her son, Karan, who sleeps to her left, his lips dry from allergies that have rendered him a mouth breather. Simran’s hand continues to move up and down her son’s back slowly, even though he has been asleep for hours. Each stroke slow and deliberate like that of a painter putting the final touches on her greatest work. She reaches with her free hand to untie Karan’s patka. She begins by unravelling the head covering’s strings from his top knot and then untying the knot at the back of his head. She removes his patka and softly rubs his forehead along a line defining the patka’s end seam, tanned skin below, smooth and milky white above. The line, like her life she thinks, varies greatly with the season. At times it is sharp and clearly in focus. At times it is blurred, barely distinguishable from its surroundings.

The pain from the beating begins to subside. The sounds of Mohan’s snoring filter in from the adjoining room and throw salt on Simran’s wounds. He sleeps peacefully. She will not share his bed tonight, nor will she tomorrow. He will ignore her, carry on not as if she had never existed but as if he had suppressed her like an unpleasant thought brewing in the deep recesses of one’s mind. By the third night, guilt will compel her to return to him. She will adjust to fit his curves, put her hand on his shoulder and whisper apologies in his ear. He will acknowledge them with a pat on her head, roll over to his side and fall asleep. Such is the game they play, she thinks as she rubs the bruises on her forearm.

Simran looks to her son, his thin chest rising and falling with every breath. One leg protrudes from underneath his covers, his body not fully convinced of the departure of fall, the beginning of winter. "What began with your conception," Simran whispers, "did not end with your birth." She thinks back to the pregnancy and the first time Mohan beat her. It was 4 months into their marriage, 2 months into the pregnancy. Nausea had prevented Simran from having a hot meal ready on Mohan’s arrival from work. He beat her with his belt, then with his shoe. She remembers being on her knees and against a wall, covering her belly with her hands, accepting blows on her face so as to protect the child that grew inside her. She remembers the apologies that followed and their convincing sincerity. Most of all, she remembers the feeling of guilt that plagued her: she did not have dinner ready in time. If one looks closely, one can still see the scars from that beating. They serve as small, measurable reminders that greet her every morning. What one cannot see, however, are the far larger scars Simran carries within her. They stem from more penetrating wounds, such as having to beg for rides to prenatal appointments, giving birth without a hand to hold, and the realization of continued beatings despite producing a son.

A thick fog declares itself as it moves in from the Pacific and blankets Vancouver. Moonlight navigates through and shines tepidly in Karan’s open window. A slight breeze drifts in and dilutes the stale air. Simran closes her eyes and travels inward, wading through her own fog as she escapes to a place of solitude. She journeys to that temple within her, seeking shelter from the harsh realities of her life. Here, there are no prospects of midnight beatings, no need for sunglasses when there is no sun. There are no monitored phone calls and finances, no mixture of sweat and cheap cologne assailing her nostrils. This sanctuary, whose foundations were laid before Simran’s wedding henna had faded, is far from public humiliation and the silent tension that follows. She does not have to worry about walking 2 steps behind Mohan when she is here.

Yet her escape is often fleeting. Long enough to perhaps catch a glimpse of Papa Ji reading the paper with his cloth thata tied so that his beard remains in shape. Smells of Mata Ji’s mesi parathay may drift into her room and whisper for her to wake up. She may hear the night chaunkidar’s stick scrape across the concrete as she lies with Mata Ji on the terrace to take advantage of a slight summer’s breeze. On the rare occasion, she can get away long enough to allow a conversation. She may be able to squeeze in a hymn at the Golden Temple or even enjoy a plate of Blue Fox’s famous chilli chicken.

Tonight her mind is in Dharamsala, and she remembers skipping down Temple Road with her new pashmina-type shawl on her shoulders. Papa Ji and Mata Ji walk behind her, cautioning her to slow down, worried about her tripping and ruining her salvar kameez. The aroma of steamed momos fills the air. Tibetan women sit roadside selling jewelry to free-spirited Europeans who have come for the cheap drugs, to find themselves, or a bit of both. Monks in their maroon robes chat as they sip butter tea at roadside cafes. Tibetan elders out for their morning walk greet Simran with toothless smiles, folded hands, and an enthusiastic "Tashi Dele."

Simran yearns to be there again with her parents. She imagines Papa Ji lifting her so she may spin a Tibetan prayer wheel. She hears Mata Ji recite "Waheguru" as she spins each wheel, combining the blessings of both Buddha and Nanak. She tastes the laichee in the chai from the self-proclaimed "best tea stall in Asia" on Jogibara Road. She laughs as Papa Ji strokes his mustache after each sip. Most of all she remembers a sense of contentment, the ability to breathe freely without the heaviness in her chest.

Sounds of Karan stirring bring Simran back. The night has grown much colder. Simran moves to close the window. She adjusts the blanket to cover Karan’s outstretched leg and smiles at how his top knot has loosened and now lies limp and off centre. She gets a second blanket from his closet, rolls up a towel from his bathroom for a pillow and settles in beside Karan, moving carefully so as not to wake him. She closes her eyes, knowing full well that she will not sleep. She closes her eyes but the mental images do not stop. Her mind is restless, and her thoughts travel from the mountains of Himachal to the fields of Punjab. Images of her wedding day begin to traverse her mental screen ...

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She sits cross-legged on the floor of the Gurudwara. Extravagant patterns of henna cover her hands and feet. Her heavily embroidered red duppatta is pinned so as to keep her hair covered. Panjeban delicately caress her ankles and match the numerous bracelets that cover her forearms. Large gold earrings hang carefree from her ears, almost brushing her shoulders. Mohan sits to her right, dressed in a cream-coloured kurta with a Chinese collar and resham embroidery. Close friends and family sit in quiet anticipation and watch as Papa Ji takes one end of the cloth hanging from Mohan’s shoulders and moves to place it in Simran’s hands. In doing so, he prepares to absolve himself of his responsibilities and place Simran’s well-being on Mohan’s undeserving shoulders. To mark this transfer, the Ragis, musicians with matching turbans and long flowing beards, sit on a stage and sing the appropriate hymn:
I have discarded praise and slander, O Nanak; I have abandoned everything. I have seen that all relationships are false, and so I have grasped hold of the hem of your robe, Lord.
Simran takes the end of the cloth from Papa Ji and lowers her eyes ...
As she thinks back to that day, she recalls the happiness in Papa Ji’s eyes. His eldest daughter was moving to Canada and marrying a successful man from a reputable family. "A father could ask for nothing else," he would repeat as he greeted well-wishers. The burden of having 3 daughters had clearly aged Papa Ji beyond his years. Three daughters meant 3 characters to keep pure, 3 sets of in-laws to please, and 3 dowries to assemble. Papa Ji carried this burden with his head high, Simran proudly remembers. He acquiesced to all of Mohan’s parents’ demands and went out of his way to please their guests; all in order to maintain the family’s izzat. Now, so much of that family honour rests with Simran and the life she builds in Canada. Simran, acutely aware of this fact, has kept her problems with Mohan from her parents. She has had thoughts of confiding in them, hoping they may intervene, but she cannot bring herself to inflict such disappointment on them. What can they possibly do? They are not going to change his behaviour from thousands of miles away. No, Simran knows that if anything, they will ask her to change her behaviour. They will encourage her to anticipate his needs, adapt to his moods. They will warn her not to trigger his anger. "A man’s blood can boil," she can hear Mata Ji saying. "A woman must cool it with her patience, obedience, and the softness of her touch."

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Above all, they will implore her for her silence. If the community back home ever got wind of her situation, her family’s izzat would suffer greatly. Women sitting on woven beds sifting through uncooked lentils would speculate on her virtue. Cleaning women would pass stories from house to house, taking great delight in educating the housewives on the latest gossip. Men, tending to their fields, would openly cast doubt on the marriageability of Simran’s younger sisters. Vendors at the local sabji mandi would quietly whisper among themselves as Papa Ji shopped for fresh vegetables. Sharma Ji would warn of the dangers of allowing girls too much education and freedom as his customers purchased glucose biscuits at his general goods shop. For all these reasons, Simran will have to suffer in silence. She cannot bear the thought of Papa Ji, overcome with shame, lowering his eyes when addressing the other villagers. She cannot imagine ruining the lives of her younger sisters, Manjit and Raman. No one in the community will marry them if their family izzat is not maintained. Papa Ji will be forced to seek matches from different villages, arrange for larger dowries, and hope that stories of his eldest daughter don’t reach the ears of potential in-laws.
Like the hands of a Kathak dancer in her standing thaat pose while narrating tales of Krishna-Leela, the hands of the clock strike 3; the constant ticking of the second hand provides Simran some respite from the night’s deafening silence. Her headache continues. She gets out of bed, reaches for her purse at the bedside, and walks toward Karan’s bathroom. His Transformers night light provides enough illumination for her to navigate his collection of toys, colouring books, and half-completed puzzles. In his bathroom, she turns on the light and looks in the mirror. Dark bags underneath her eyes weigh down their already pained expression. Strands of white mingle with her co{censored} and thinning black hair like unwelcome guests at a funeral. A look around the neck of her kameez reveals that Mohan’s hands have left their mark. She reaches into her purse and pulls out an assortment of medicine bottles. Some are for her sleep, others for her pain, and some to help with her mood. According to her family doctor, Dr Roberts,she has insomnia, chronic pain, and depression. "A chemical imbalance" Simran recalls Dr Roberts saying as he handed her the latest prescription. He is like the medicine-walla that used to come to our village, Simran thinks; listening to your story briefly and offering the latest magic potion. "Bhenji, drink this and it will help all tension-vension, all aches and pains, money-back guarantee," he would say.

Simran has never been entirely comfortable with Dr Roberts. He is a slight, unimposing man with a predilection for print ties and wing-tipped shoes. When talking to her, he rubs his eyes and temples, making Simran wonder why his own doctor hasn’t offered him any pills. He is always running late, and Simran has often waited an hour to see him for 10 minutes. Chronic headaches and trouble with sleep have plagued Simran for years. Dr Roberts always seems to have a new answer: an increase in dose, a trial of new medicine, a sample in his cupboard. What frustrates Simran is that he doesn’t ask the right questions. Why does her head constantly hurt? What causes her to lie awake for hours? Why does she have no desire to attend Gurudwara on Sunday or no energy to fix Karan’s school lunch? She feels Dr Roberts has been handing her bandages without inspecting her wounds; quick fixes that are amenable to a 10-minute appointment and sufficient until the next visit.

Simran once summoned the courage to discuss her marital problems with Dr Roberts. It was when Karan was about 1 year old; she had taken him in for his scheduled immunizations. Dr Roberts noticed and inquired about a bruise on Simran’s face. She alluded to her problems with Mohan hoping he would be able to provide some advice. She thought that maybe he would tell her what to say to Mohan to make him stop or that he might reassure her, tell her that Mohan would change and that she needed to be patient. Perhaps he would send her to talk to someone who could give her some ideas on how to be better, how to keep Mohan happy. What she had not been prepared for, however, was Dr Roberts’ suggestion: divorce. Simran remembers the chill that came over her body upon hearing this. Was he joking? Did he not realize the absurdity of his suggestion? She could never bring such shame upon her family.

Leaving Mohan would ruin Mata Ji and Papa Ji. How would they ever overcome such a burden? What would they tell potential suitors for her sisters? They would be the talk of the village; she could not do that to them. What of Karan? A boy needs his father. He would blame Simran his whole life for taking his father away. She could not care for him alone. She could not provide for the both of them with no skills and a limited grasp of English. The government would certainly take Karan away and give him to Mohan. How could she live without him—her very breath, her reason for being, and the one source of joy in her life? Didn’t Dr Roberts understand that divorce is not an option for an Indian woman? No man would marry her; she would be forced to spend the rest of her life alone and in shame.

Simran cowers as she thinks of the possibility of being alone. She swallows a sleeping pill and returns to Karan’s room. She stands at the foot of the bed and watches her son. He sleeps in peace, unaware the woman in front of him is but a mere shadow of her former self. He has kicked off most of his covers and the moonlight shines off his Kara, a metal bracelet on his right arm symbolizing the infiniteness of the Divine. She lifts his blanket off the floor and places it over him gently. Simran sits by his head and strokes her fingers through his long, uncut hair. "To suffer is my karma, son," she whispers. "I will not let it be yours." She settles in beside her son, closes her eyes, and waits for sleep to come.

Competing interests: None declared
Details of the research study can be obtained by contacting Dr Arora: PO Box 59026, 5962 Sperling Ave, Burnaby, BC V5E 0A3; e-mailamritpalsarora@gmail.com


1947-2014 (Archived)
Jun 17, 2004
Sikh Philosophy Network invites its members, sisters and brothers, to read and discuss these articles in support of sisters everywhere, and against the violence of honor killings anywhere.

ਆਵਹੁ ਭੈਣੇ ਗਲਿ ਮਿਲਹ ਅੰਕਿ ਸਹੇਲੜੀਆਹ ॥
aavahu bhainae gal mileh ank sehaelarreeaah ||
Come, my dear sisters and spiritual companions; hug me close in your embrace. SriRaag, Ang 17 (Guru Nanak)


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1947-2014 (Archived)
Jun 17, 2004
By Khaled Diab for guardian.co.uk, Sunday 3 May 2009 15.00 BST

Though relatively rare, killing a family member in the name of honour should be a cause for shame, not pride, as it reflects a cowardly compliance with inhumane norms.

Killing someone, especially a family member, is something I cannot begin to contemplate. Of course, I realise that it is a sad fact of life that some of the worst physical, sexual and psychological abuses – and even murders – are perpetrated by relatives.

In some ways, it is more horrifying and tragic when abuses are committed not to satisfy some base motives but for the apparently exalted ideal of "honour". Each year, thousands die around the world – from the Middle East to the Indian subcontinent, and from Latin America to China – in the name of family honour. The victims of these crimes are mostly women.

Rana Husseini – a courageous and outspoken Jordanian journalist who has dedicated most of her career to campaigning against this warped cultural practice – will publish a book on the subject at the end of May.

Murder in the Name of Honour (pdf) continues Husseini's groundbreaking efforts to break the silence on this disgraceful crime. The book shines a human light on some of the victims of honour killings, exploring their lives, circumstances and deaths – an epitaph to women whose families and communities would rather forget.

The first case Husseini investigated, back in 1994, was that of Kifaya, a young woman from a very traditional family in a conservative neighbourhood of Amman, who became pregnant after being raped by one of her brothers, Muhammad.

Instead of understanding and sympathy from her family, the poor young woman who had been violated by her own kin was forced to marry a man 34 years her senior to cover up the scandal. When the marriage ended in divorce six months later, the perceived shame led the family to decide that Kifaya had to die, and her other brother, Khalid, was forced to carry out the ugly deed.

Although most honour killings are ordered by men and carried out by men, Kifaya's father, who worked abroad to provide for his family, had no idea of the plot co-hatched by her mother, and the news of her death devastated him. "I would never have allowed anyone to kill my daughter, no matter what," he confessed to Husseini.

The fact that Kifaya was a victim twice over – once for being blamed for her rape and then being murdered for dishonoring the family – is not unusual in the grizzly annals of this type of crime, where a woman's virginity is worth more than her life. In fact, there are women in the most conservative circles who have paid with their lives for the malicious gossip of others.
Husseini points out that only a small number of men are murdered in the name of honour, despite the fact that they played a major role in the supposed dishonour. Indeed, men – even rapists – do get off lightly in this type of sex-related honour crimes. But her assertion overlooks the fact that there is a whole other world of honour that overwhelmingly claims men as its victims: the vendetta – think Romeo and Juliet or mafia films but in real life.
One place where this dated practice, known locally as "el-tar", still continues, despite decades of efforts to wipe it out, is Egypt's stronghold of conservatism and tough traditions, al-Said (or Upper Egypt). Highly codified and ritualized, some of these feuds can last for generations, perpetuated by a stubborn belief in "el-tar walla el-aar" ("revenge is better than disgrace").
It's not just the fact that someone can muster up the ability to murder a loved one that disturbs, it is also the cruel manner and abandon some people bring to the task. One father hired two thugs to rape his daughter for two hours – as punishment for shaming him – before killing her. To my mind, there is no way a father like that can be anything but completely diseased in the head.

The crime can also be cruel on the chosen executioner. Families often choose one of the younger men – often a minor – to carry out the crime because he will probably get off with a lighter sentence, although the powerless youngster is condemned to a lifetime of trauma and often regret. "I know that killing my sister is against Islam and it angered God," said Sarhan, a young honour-killer Husseini visited in prison. "She was close to me, she was the one who resembled me the most," he said. "I alone cannot change or fix things in my society. My whole society has to change."
And change is coming gradually. Thanks to the efforts of Husseini – who has endured slander, unpopularity and even death threats – and other activists and campaigners, the issue has become a very public one in Jordan, and concern about it has grown in other countries, particularly Pakistan.
This breaking of the taboo has incensed many, not because they approve of the crimes but because of the shame and embarrassment it brings upon their societies. At one level, this is understandable: although honour killings are pretty isolated occurrences, many in the outside world have the warped idea that most Arab and Muslim men are bloodthirsty women-bashers. However, sweeping the issue under the carpet is not an option, and it must be dealt with.
Source:: Sikh Philosophy Network http://www.sikhphilosophy.net/showthread.php?t=25910 (So why call her bad? From her, kings are born!)

Although Jordanian campaigners have so far failed to change the law that enables honour murderers to get off lightly, the struggle is as much about changing cultural perceptions and attitudes as it is about legislation. Public and judicial tolerance of these crimes is wearing thin as the silent majority begin to raise their objections to these barbaric acts. "The protection of every woman's life should be a key issue for the government and community alike," emphasizes Husseini. "Real honour is about tolerance, equality and civil responsibility."​


1947-2014 (Archived)
Jun 17, 2004

"Honour" killings of women can be defined as acts of murder in which "a woman is killed for her actual or perceived immoral behavior." (Yasmeen Hassan, "The Fate of Pakistani Women," International Herald Tribune, May 25, 1999.) Such "immoral behavior" may take the form of marital infidelity, refusing to submit to an arranged marriage, demanding a divorce, flirting with or receiving phone calls from men, failing to serve a meal on time, or -- grotesquely -- "allowing herself" to be raped. In the Turkish province of Sanliurfa, one young woman's "throat was slit in the town square because a love ballad was dedicated to her over the radio." (Pelin Turgut, "'Honour' Killings Still Plague Turkish Province," The Toronto Star, May 14, 1998.)
Source:: Sikh Philosophy Network http://www.sikhphilosophy.net/showthread.php?t=25910 (So why call her bad? From her, kings are born!)

Most "honour" killings of women occur in Muslim countries, the focus of this case study; but it is worth noting that no sanction for such murders is granted in Islamic religion or law. And the phenomenon is in any case a global one. According to Stephanie Nebehay, such killings "have been reported in Bangladesh, Britain, Brazil, Ecuador, Egypt, India, Israel, Italy, Jordan, Pakistan, Morocco, Sweden, Turkey and Uganda." Afghanistan, where the practice is condoned under the rule of the fundamentalist Taliban movement, can be added to the list, along with Iraq and Iran. (Nebehay, "'Honor Killings' of Women Said on Rise Worldwide," Reuters dispatch, April 7, 2000.)

Pakistan, where "honour" killings are known as karo-kari, is probably the country where such atrocities are most pervasive. Estimating the scale of the phenomenon there, as elsewhere, is made more difficult not only by the problems of data collection in predominantly rural countries, but by the extent to which community members and political authorities collaborate in covering up the atrocities. According to Yasmeen Hassan, author of The Haven Becomes Hell: A Study of Domestic Violence in Pakistan, "The concepts of women as property and honor are so deeply entrenched in the social, political and economic fabric of Pakistan that the government, for the most part, ignores the daily occurrences of women being killed and maimed by their families." (Hassan, "The Fate of Pakistani Women.") Frequently, women murdered in "honour" killings are recorded as having committed suicide or died in accidents.

One of the most notorious "honour" killings of recent years occurred in April 1999, when Samia Imran, a young married woman, "was shot in the office of a lawyer helping her to seek a divorce which her family could never countenance." According to Suzanne Goldenberg,

Samia, 28, arrived at the Lahore law offices of Hina Jilani and Asma Jahangir, who are sisters, on April 6. She had engaged Jilani a few days earlier, because she wanted a divorce from her violent husband. Samia settled on a chair across the desk from the lawyer. Sultana, Samia's mother, entered five minutes later with a male companion. Samia half-rose in greeting. The man, Habib-ur-Rhemna, grabbed Samia and put a pistol to her head. The first bullet entered near Samia's eye and she fell. "There was no scream. There was dead silence. I don't even think she knew what was happening," Jilani said. The killer stood over Samia's body, and fired again. Jilani reached for the alarm button as the gunman and Sultana left. "She never even bothered to look whether the girl was dead."

The aftermath of the murder was equally revealing: "Members of Pakistan's upper house demanded punishment for the two women [lawyers] and none of Pakistan's political leaders condemned the attack. ... The clergy in Peshawar want the lawyers to be put to death" for trying to help Imran. (Suzanne Goldenberg, "A Question of Honor," The Guardian (UK), May 27, 1999.)

Hina Jilani, Pakistani campaigner against 'honour' killing.According to Goldenberg, "Those who kill for honour [in Pakistan] are almost never punished. In the rare instances [that] cases reach the courts, the killers are sentenced to just two or three years. Hana Jilani [the Jahore lawyer who witnessed Samia Imran's murder] has collected 150 case studies and in only eight did the judges reject the argument that the women were killed for honour. All the other [perpetrators] were let off, or given reduced sentences." (Goldenberg, "A Question of Honour.")
Source:: Sikh Philosophy Network http://www.sikhphilosophy.net/showthread.php?t=25910 (So why call her bad? From her, kings are born!)

A human-rights report published in March 1999 stated that "honour" killings took the lives of 888 women in the single province of Punjab in 1998 (Hassan, "The Fate of Pakistani Women"). Similar figures were recorded for 1999. In Sindh province, some 300 women died in 1997, according to Pakistan's independent Human Rights Commission. (Goldenberg, "A Question of Honour.") It is unknown how many women are maimed or disfigured for life in attacks that fall short of murder. Pamela Constable describes one such case:

Zahida Perveen's head is shrouded in a white cotton veil, which she self-consciously tightens every few moments. But when she reaches down to her baby daughter, the veil falls away to reveal the face of one of Pakistan's most horrific social ills, broadly known as "honour" crimes. Perveen's eyes are empty sockets of unseeing flesh, her earlobes have been sliced off, and her nose is a gaping, reddened stump of bone. Sixteen months ago, her husband, in a fit of rage over her alleged affair with a brother-in-law, bound her hands and feet and slashed her with a razor and knife. She was three months pregnant at the time. "He came home from the mosque and accused me of having a bad character," the tiny, 32-year-old woman murmured as she awaited a court hearing ... "I told him it was not true, but he didn't believe me. He caught me and tied me up, and then he started cutting my face. He never said a word except, "This is your last night." (Constable, "The Price of 'Honour'," The Gazette (Montreal), May 22, 2000.)

Bangladeshi women scarred in acid attacks.Perveen's husband stated in court that "What I did was wrong, but I am satisfied. I did it for my honour and prestige." Often burning or scarring with acid are the preferred weapons of the men committing such crimes. "The Progressive Women's Association, which assists attack victims, tracked 3,560 women who were hospitalized after being attacked at home with fire, gasoline or acid between 1994 and 1999," according to Constable. About half the victims died. Lawyer and women's activist Nahida Mahbooba Elahi states that "We deal with these cases every day, but I have seen very few convictions. The men say the wife didn't obey their orders, or was having relations with someone else. The police often say it is a domestic matter and refuse to pursue the case. Some judges even justify it and do not consider it murder." (Constable, "The Price of 'Honour.'") Such crimes are also rife in Bangladesh, formerly East Pakistan, where some 2,200 women are disfigured every year in acid attacks by jealous or estranged men. (Ellen Goodman, "How Long Before We Take the Honor out of Killing?," The Washington Post [in the Guardian Weekly, April 6-12, 2000.)

In August 1999, an international furore erupted when the Pakistani Senate rejected a resolution by former Prime Minister Benazhir Butto to condemn "honour" killings in the country. (See Zaffer Abbas, "Pakistan Fails to Condemn 'Honour' Killings", BBC Online, August 3, 1999.) In April 2000, the head of the Pakistani military regime, General Pervez Musharraf, pledged that his government would take strong measures to curb "honour" killings. "Such acts do not find a place in our religion or law," Musharraf stated. "Killing in the name of honour is murder, and it will be treated as such." Most observers were skeptical, however, that Musharraf's words would be followed up by committed actions. (See "Honour Killings Now Seen As Murder", The Sydney Morning Herald [from The Telegraph (UK)], April 24, 2000.)

While the victims of Pakistani "honour" killings are overwhelmingly female, tradition dictates that males involved in the "crimes" should face death as well. But the accused women are standardly killed first, giving men a chance to flee retribution. Moreover, targeted men can escape death by paying compensation to the family of the female victim, leading to an "'honour killing industry' involving tribespeople, police and tribal mediators," which "provides many opportunities to make money, [or] obtain a woman in compensation," according to Amnesty International. The organization also states: "Reports abound about men who have killed other men in murders not connected with honour issues who then kill a woman of their own family ... to camouflage the initial murder as an honour killing." (Amnesty International, "Pakistan: Honour Killings of Girls and Women", September 1999.)

[Note: For more information on "honour" killings in Pakistan, contact the International Network for the Rights of Female Victims in Pakistan, P.O. Box 17202, Louisville, KY 40217, USA; e-mail: inrfvvp@inrfvvp.org.]

In Jordan, "honour" killings are sanctioned by law. According to Article 340 of the criminal code, "A husband or a close blood relative who kills a woman caught in a situation highly suspicious of adultery will be totally exempt from sentence." Article 98, meanwhile, guarantees a lighter sentence for male killers of female relatives who have committed an "act which is illicit in the eyes of the perpetrator." Julian Borger notes that "in practice, once a murder has been judged an 'honour killing,' the usual sentence is from three months to one year." (Julian Borger, "In Cold Blood," Manchester Guardian Weekly, November 16, 1997. See also "Four Men Sentenced to Year or Less for Brutal Jordan Honour Killings," Agence France-Presse dispatch, July 31, 1999; the perpetrators included a 19-year-old man, Hussein Suleiman, who "was accused of driving three times over his six-month-pregnant unmarried sister in a pick-up truck, despite her denials of immoral behaviour and pleas for help.") Ironically, as Borger notes, this legislation is "the result of Western influence in the Middle East," having arisen "out of a fusion between Egyptian tribal custom and the Napoleonic Code in 1810, after the French legions took Cairo." (Borger, "In Cold Blood.")

In a particularly tragic case in 1994, a handicapped 18-year-old girl, who had already served six months in jail (!) for becoming pregnant out of wedlock, was killed by her 17-year-old brother. A neighbour was quoted as saying the family "seemed relaxed, happy and satisfied after announcing the news that she was killed ..." (Rana Husseini, "18-year-old killed for 'family honor,'" The Jordan Times, September 19, 1994.) Manchester Guardian Weekly reporter Julian Borger described another typical case in 1997:

One morning this summer, Rania Arafat's two aunts came to take her for a walk. They told their 21-year-old niece they had arranged a secret meeting with her boyfriend. She strolled with them through Gwiesmeh, a poor suburb where Amman's concrete sprawl peters out into desert. When the three women reached a patch of open land, the aunts suddenly stepped aside, leaving Arafat standing alone. She was shot four times in the back of the head at close range and once in the forehead. The gunman was her 17-year-old brother, Rami. ... Arafat's crime was to refuse an arranged marriage and elope with her Iraqi boyfriend. Rami is in jail, but is unlikely to be sentenced to more than a few months, especially as he is a minor, which is almost certainly why he was given the role of executioner. (Borger, "In Cold Blood.")

Journalist Rana Husseini The Jordan Times estimated in 1994 that between 28 and 60 Jordanian women -- the difference between official police figures and commonly-cited estimates of the actual number -- die in "honour" killings every year (Rana Husseini, "Murder in the Name of Honour," October 6-7, 1994.) The death-toll may even run into the hundreds, with hundreds more women in perpetual hiding, fearful for their lives.

One positive sign is the staunch opposition to the practice displayed by the regime of King Abdullah II, who took power after the death of his father King Hussein in 1999. "The king has backed legislation to put honor killings on a par with other murders and has encouraged public support to change the law. ... The fact that the royal palace has taken such a stance has translated into tougher sentencing and investigations of honor killings by the courts and police. The king's support has also encouraged activist groups to speak out more strongly against honor killings." (Stephen Franklin, "Jordan Begins to Punish Practice of 'Honor Killings'", The Chicago Tribune, September 1, 2000.)

Such efforts continue to encounter staunch resistance from conservative elements, however. In early February 2000, the Jordanian parliament "took only three minutes to reject a draft law calling for the cancellation of Article 340." The country's leading political party, the Islamic Action Front (IAF), denounced the draft law as an effort to "destroy our Islamic, social and family values, by stripping the man from his humanity, [and] not allowing him to get angry when he is surprised by [i.e., surprises] his wife committing adultery." Ten days later, in an unprecedented action, some 5,000 protesters flooded the streets of Amman demanding the repeal of the penal code provision allowing "honour" killings. The protesters included "Prince Ali, who is King Abdullah's brother and his personal guard, as well as Prince Gazi, the king's advisor for tribal affairs."

Demonstrators march in Israel to protest 'honour' killings.

"Honour" killings are also regularly reported in the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. In the Canadian women's magazine Chatelaine, Sally Armstrong described the fate of one victim:

Flirting was a costly mistake for Samera. She was only 15 years old when her neighbours in Salfeet, a small Palestinian town on the West Bank, saw her chatting with a young man without a male chaperone. Her family's honour was at stake; a marriage was quickly arranged. By 16, she had a child. Five years later, when she could stand the bogus marriage no longer, she bolted. In a place where gossip is traded like hard currency, and a girl's chastity is as public as her name, Samera's actions were considered akin to making a date with the devil. According to the gossips, she went from man to man as she moved from place to place. Finally, last July [1999], her family caught up with her. A few days later she was found stuffed down a well. Her neck had been broken. Her father told the coroner she'd committed suicide. But everyone on the grapevine knew that Samera was a victim of honour killing, murdered by her own family because her actions brought dishonour to their name. ... Here in the West Bank, the Palestinian Authority law allows honour killing. Samera's parents are walking the streets of their neighbourhood with their heads held high, relieved that the family honour has been restored. (Armstrong, "Honour's Victims", Chatelaine, March 2000.)

Twenty-two other women died in the Palestinian territories in the same year as Samera. The killings often spill over into neighbouring Israel, as with the killing of "40-year-old Ittihaj Hassoon" near Haifa in 1995:

On Oct. 16, 1995, ... Hassoon got out of a car with her younger brother on a main street of Daliat al Carmel, a small Israeli Druze village ... Over 10 years before, Ittihaj had committed the unpardonable sin of marrying a non-Druze man. Now, after luring her back to her home village with promises that all was forgiven and her safety assured, her brother finally had the chance to publicly cleanse the blot on the family name with the spilling of her blood. In broad daylight in front of witnesses, he pulled out a knife and began to stab her. The witnesses quickly swelled to a crowd of more than 100 villagers who -- approving, urging him on -- chanted, ululated, danced in the street. Within minutes, Hassoon lay dead on the ground while the crowd cheered her killer, "Hero, hero! You are a real man!" (Suzanne Zima, "When Brothers Kill Sisters," The Gazette [Montreal], April 17, 1999. See also Walter Rodgers, "Honor Killings: A Brutal Tribal Custom", CNN World News, December 7, 1995.)

According to Zima, "Ibrahim had agonized over his decision: 'She is my sister -- my flesh and blood -- I am a human being. I didn't want to kill her. I didn't want to be in this situation. They [community members] push[ed] me to make this decision. I know what they expect from me. If I do this, they look at me like a hero, a clean guy, a real man. If I don't kill my sister, the people would look at me like I am a small person.'"

Who is responsible?

"Honour" killings of women (and occasionally their male "partners in crime") reflect longstanding patriarchal-tribal traditions. In a "bizarre duality," women are viewed "on the one hand as fragile creatures who need protection and on the other as evil Jezebels from whom society needs protection." Patriarchal tradition "casts the male as the sole protector of the female so he must have total control of her. If his protection is violated, he loses honour because either he failed to protect her or he failed to bring her up correctly." (Armstrong, "Honour's Victims.") Clearly, the vulnerability of women around the world to this type of violence will only be reduced when these patriarchal mindsets are challenged and effectively confronted.

As many of the examples cited in this case study indicate, state authorities frequently ignore their obligation to prosecute "honour" killings. They should be viewed as "co-conspirators" in such crimes, and held accountable by organizations such as the United Nations.

The typical "honour" killer is a man, usually the father, husband, or brother of the victim. Frequently teenage brothers are selected by their family or community to be the executioners, because their sentences will generally be lighter than those handed down to adults (as was the case with the killing of Rania Arafat in Jordan, cited above). "Talking and writing about this atrocity is a good start," wrote Marina Sanchez-Rashid in a letter to The Jordan Times, "but I believe that action to start treating and judging the men who commit these crimes as the first degree murderers that they are, as well as to protect the victims as they deserve to be protected, is needed as soon as possible." (Quoted in Patrick Goodenough, "Middle East Women Campaign Against 'Family Honor' Killings," Conservative News Service, March 8, 1999.)

As with witch-hunts, however, "honour" killings also need to be viewed from a broader societal perspective; they derive from expectations of female behaviour that are held and perpetuated by men and women alike. Women's role has often been underappreciated. Occasionally, they participate directly in the killings. More frequently, they play a leading role in preparing the ground. In Palestine, for example, the anthropologist Ilsa Glaser has noted that "women acted as instigators and collaborators in these murders, unleashing a torrent of gossip that spurred the accusations." (Quoted in The Calgary Herald, April 20, 2000.) Jordanian women running for parliament have also been "reluctant to break the taboo" on condemning and prosecuting "honour" killings; one told the Manchester Guardian Weekly that "This is our tradition. We do not want to encourage women who break up the family." (Borger, "In Cold Blood.") In the Ramle district of Israel, police commander Yifrach Duchovey lamented his inability to secure the cooperation of community members in investigating "honour" killings: "Even other women -- the mothers -- won't cooperate with us. Sometimes the women co-operate with the men who commit the murders. ... A woman may think it is OK -- maybe she thinks the victim deserves it." (Quoted in Zima, "When Brothers Kill Sisters.")​


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Jan 7, 2009
i am in tears reading about these catastrophic happenings. Just when you think women are finally being recognised as equal. "waheguru ji smath buksho"


Mar 12, 2009


Points of impact;

1. Social.

2. Economic.

3. Population decline.

4. Spiritual decline/ignorance

The basic underlying factor in female infanticide is the individual EGO, spiritual ignorance as well as socio-economic factors. If the spiritual ignorance is removed by respecting the female gender as Sikh Gurus tried to teach the humanity about it. Guru Nanak in Asa Di Var elucidates;

ਭੰਡਿ ਜੰਮੀਐ ਭੰਡਿ ਨਿੰਮੀਐ ਭੰਡਿ ਮੰਗਣੁ ਵੀਆਹੁ ॥ਭੰਡਹੁ ਹੋਵੈ ਦੋਸਤੀ ਭੰਡਹੁ ਚਲੈ ਰਾਹੁ ॥ਭੰਡੁ ਮੁਆ ਭੰਡੁ ਭਾਲੀਐ ਭੰਡਿ ਹੋਵੈ ਬੰਧਾਨੁ ॥ਸੋ ਕਿਉ ਮੰਦਾ ਆਖੀਐ ਜਿਤੁ ਜੰਮਹਿ ਰਾਜਾਨ ॥ਭੰਡਹੁ ਹੀ ਭੰਡੁ ਊਪਜੈ ਭੰਡੈ ਬਾਝੁ ਨ ਕੋਇ ॥ਨਾਨਕ ਭੰਡੈ ਬਾਹਰਾ ਏਕੋ ਸਚਾ ਸੋਇ ॥

Bẖand jammī­ai bẖand nimmī­ai bẖand mangaṇ vī­āhu.Bẖandahu hovai ḏosṯī bẖandahu cẖalai rāhu.Bẖand mu­ā bẖand bẖālī­ai bẖand hovai banḏẖān.So ki­o manḏā ākẖī­ai jiṯ jameh rājān.Bẖandahu hī bẖand ūpjai bẖandai bājẖ na ko­ė.Nānak bẖandai bāhrā ėko sacẖā so­ė.

From woman, man is born; within woman, man is conceived; to woman he is engaged and married. Woman becomes his friend; through woman, the future generations come. When his woman dies, he seeks another woman; to woman he is bound. So why call her bad? From her, kings are born. From woman, woman is born; without woman, there would be no one at all. O, Nanak, only the True Lord is without a woman.-----Guru Nanak, Raag Asa, AGGS, Page, 473

It is the ego, which by its veil separates the self from Truth/Universal Self. Ego/Houmai is an inflated feeling of pride in your superiority to others with a psyche that is conscious and most immediately controls thought and behavior being in touch with external reality. It is an exaggerated sense of self-importance; conceit. There is only one indirect reference in AGGS with admonishment to Brahmins following Vedas/Vedanta for such sacrifices for the sake of Ego.

ਬ੍ਰਹਮਣ ਕੈਲੀ ਘਾਤੁ ਕੰਞਕਾ ਅਣਚਾਰੀ ਕਾ ਧਾਨੁ ॥ਫਿਟਕ ਫਿਟਕਾ ਕੋੜੁ ਬਦੀਆ ਸਦਾ ਸਦਾ ਅਭਿਮਾਨੁ ॥

Barahmaṇ kailī gẖāṯ kañkā aṇcẖārī kā ḏẖān.Fitak fitkā koṛ baḏī­ā saḏā saḏā abẖimān.

If a Brahmin kills a cow or a female infant, and accepts the offerings of an evil person, he is cursed with the leprosy of curses and criticism; he is forever and ever filled with egotistical pride. -----Guru Amardas, Sloke Vaaran Tay Vadheek, AGGS, Page, 1413-4 & 5

Pride is the basic breeder of most human difficulties, the chief block to progress. When the satisfaction of our lower instincts, security and a place in society becomes the primary object of our lives, than pride steps in to justify our excesses. Fullness of knowledge always and necessarily means some understanding of our ignorance that is always conducive to both humility and reverence. Plenty of people wish to become devout but no one wishes to be humble.

ਇਕਨਾ ਨੋ ਸਭ ਸੋਝੀ ਆਈ ਇਕਿ ਫਿਰਦੇ ਵੇਪਰਵਾਹਾ ॥ਅਮਲ ਜਿ ਕੀਤਿਆ ਦੁਨੀ ਵਿਚਿ ਸੇ ਦਰਗਹ ਓਗਾਹਾ ॥

Iknā no sabẖ sojẖī ā­ī ik firḏė vėparvāhā.Amal je kīṯi­ā ḏunī vicẖ sė ḏargeh ohāgā.

Some understand this completely, while others wander around carelessly. Those actions, which are done in this world, shall be examined in the Court of the Lord. -----Sloke Sheikh Farid, 98, AGGS, Page, 1383-3

Spiritual ignorance is a very serious matter. It is said that "What you don't know won't hurt you". We all know that is incorrect and yet it seems that many people have adopted that philosophy toward spiritual matters. "Many people are destroyed for lack of spiritual knowledge". It is not merely the lack of knowledge, but self-destructive turning away from truth in all areas of life and to be ignorant of one's ignorance is the malady of the ignorant.

It is the shore less ocean of darkness. It further leads to attachment with Maya.

ਅਸੰਖ ਮੂਰਖ ਅੰਧ ਘੋਰ ॥

Asankh Moorkh Andh Ghor.

Countless fools are blinded by ignorance. ----Japji, AGGS, Page, 4-3

Ignorance is the absence of the divine knowledge of perception which gives us the sight of the supramental Truth; it is the non-perceiving principle on our consciousness as opposed to the truth-perceiving conscious vision and knowledge. Ignorance is a self-limiting Knowledge confined to an exclusive concentration of in a single field. The Ignorance, though in Matter and Life, has its primacy in the nature of the Mind, which measures, limits, particularizes, and divides. But Mind also is a universal principle, of the “Supreme” with the tendency to unify and universalize. Mind becomes ignorant when it loses connection with the Absolute Principle. Individuals worshiping departed heroes, ancestors, etc is of no avail and is in utter spiritual ignorance.


Spiritual ignorance is the origin and nature of error, falsehood, wrong and evil in the consciousness and will of the individual; a limited consciousness growing out of the nescience is the source of the error, a personal attachment to the limitation and the error born of it the source of the falsity, a wrong consciousness governed by the life-ego the source of evil. The spiritual ignorance referred here is not lack of information but a deep seated misperception of reality. Divine Knowledge is the awareness and understanding of facts, truths or information gained in the form of learning. The purpose of Divine knowledge is to find the Truth and develop inner cleanliness by subjugating animal instincts and developing godly instincts or virtues by respecting human life and spiritual progress.

Virinder S. Grewal

Vikram singh

Feb 24, 2005
She is an illiterate woman from the tribal areas of Pakistan who almost died in childbirth a year after marrying at the age of 12.

He is a famous Pakistani ob-gyn who was educated in Ireland. After spending eight years there, he returned with plans to set up a fertility clinic for rich patients and zip around in a Mercedes-Benz. But he was so shattered by the sight of women dying unnecessarily in childbirth that he decided to devote his career instead to helping impoverished women like her.

Check This
Feb 19, 2007
Delhi India
Re: Missing Sikh Girl

The population ratio of females to males in Punjab is probably the lowest in the country. If I remember right it 793 females to 1000 males.

Frankly speaking I am quite perplexed as to the reason. There is no impetus from the Sikh religion. In fact there is active discouragement for violence or discrimination against women. SRM also prescribes social boycott for those practicing female infanticide. So then why this sorry state?

The only reason and a very weak one is, that girl is considered as a "Bhar" or burden. First the parents have to spend a lot in bringing her up, then you have get her married off at expense which strains the families resources and then you have to continuously feed the greedy in laws to ensure her well being. So the returns for the family in having a girl are a big negative!

Fortunately with the spread of education girls in Punjab are becoming quite assertive and are in no mood to take any more nonsense. About 1 1/2 years back there was a well publicized case in Patiala in which a bridegroom and his family from USA demanded a dowry of Rs. 50 lakhs. The girl was qualified doctor. She would have none of this . So a plan was put in place. All the marriage arrangemnts were made. When the Barat reached the brides place, the bride people descended on the groom and his party and gave them a sound thrashing. As we say in Punjabi "kut dita see". They were subsequntly handed over to the police.
Isolated instances like these apart, this is serious problem. Fortunately preachers like Bhai Gur Iqbal Singh, Bhai Pinderpal Singh etc are tirelessly preaching that female infanticide and not giving equal status to women, is against basic Sikh tenets. The Govt of Punjab also with all its faults has launched media campaign against mistreatment of women.

I have just one questionto ask;

Our gurus had strictly forbidden practicing castecism, but it is raising its ugly head.
Our gurus had talked against illtreatment of women, but we disregard that.
Our gurus had forbidden consumption of intoxicants, but the consumption of alcohol is the highest in Punjab.

Why do disregard the teachings of our gurus so easily?

I am reminded of of what Guru Gobind Singh Ji had said:

Jab Lag Khalsa Rahe Niara, Tab Lag Tej Dioon Mein Sara
Jab Eh Gaye Bipran Ki Reet, Mein Na Karoon In Ki Parteet.

Is'nt because of this that Khalsa finds itself in pitiable plight (Warned by Guru Gobind Singh Ji) in the country of its birth?

Harbans Singh


Apr 3, 2005
Re: Missing Sikh Girl

The only reason and a very weak one is, that girl is considered as a "Bhar" or burden. First the parents have to spend a lot in bringing her up, then you have get her married off at expense which strains the families resources and then you have to continuously feed the greedy in laws to ensure her well being. So the returns for the family in having a girl are a big negative!
It is not always the greedy in laws.Many times the girl's family just to keep their social prestige high in their biradari and in groom's family spend large amount on marriage and give big dowry

Fortunately with the spread of education girls in Punjab are becoming quite assertive and are in no mood to take any more nonsense. About 1 1/2 years back there was a well publicized case in Patiala in which a bridegroom and his family from USA demanded a dowry of Rs. 50 lakhs. The girl was qualified doctor. She would have none of this . So a plan was put in place. All the marriage arrangemnts were made. When the Barat reached the brides place, the bride people descended on the groom and his party and gave them a sound thrashing. As we say in Punjabi "kut dita see". They were subsequntly handed over to the police.
actually the situation among middle class sikhs in city like delhi have worsened.Dowry rates are going to crazy heights.Many girls are now working in private sector earning rs. 30000 and above per month.so the parents and girls themselves want that their prospective husbands should be equally educated and earning equally or higher than a them.many families are now even offering flats as dowry which cost millions to grooms which they find suitable on the other hand they themself turn down proposals of boys
which are earning less.so for this system of Dowry parents of Girls and Girls should also be blamed.after all you cannot clap from one hand.


Jul 18, 2009
Dharmashtere Australiashtre
Re: Missing Sikh Girl

Im not sikh so i can't speak in terms of a religious sense. however, my family has lots of Sikh family friends in India and even one or two Bane hoye Bhen-Bhra(i can't remember the english word). I also have extended family in big cities of Punjab.

The main reason is the same for Hindus and Sikhs:
1) Money - In the older times people use to collect dowry from the day the girl was born. Nowadays, even if you collect it from the day she is born and marry her off when she's 25 you will still not have enough.
Education Costs up to 12th, Education costs for degrees, Cost of the marriage ceremony, cost of dowry, Lena Dena after marriage at ever festival, birth of children and at any wedding at the in laws of the daughter.

Now im putting a rough estimate here according to the rates in Delhi, Jalandhar, Ludhiana etc. Lets say you ignore the education costs, after all every child deserves education.

I would say the cost of Marriage Ceremony, Dowry and Lena Dena would cross 20 - 30 Lakhs easily for a middle class family depending on how money hungry the inlaws are.

I know Sikh gurus warned against ritualism. Marriage these days have become ritualism. They need the best suits and saris, best pandaal, best dj, best singer, best everything basically. Anything less than that hurts the SHAAN of people.

2) Cultural Pressure - A family with only daughters is a gold mine for people to say things. Its intense stress due to the cultural idea of everything "going to the inlaws".

Also, the other reason is the legal change. In older times, Once you married your daughter off that was it. You did a bit of lena dena every now and then thats it.

Nowadays, the law has changed. Girls can now demand an equal share of property once the parents die. Many times, the in laws of the girl will force the girl to fight with her brother over inheritance.

3) Individual change - Girls are now more independant, outgoing and daring. Watch the music videos from Punjab. I know music videos aren't an accurate description but the culture is changing.

Many girls fall in love with Losers, guys of different caste and guys their families don't like. When one girl in the street does this, it puts the fear into the hearts of other parents in the street or Pind.

Plus there is many types of people who are aborting girls:
1) Rural poor: Once who want sons for farming etc and cannot even afford a tractor let alone marriage of a girl.

2) City poor: Same story as rural poor but they just cannot compete with the dowry rates

3) City Middle - Lower Upper Class: Ones who are worried about the affordability + the social stigma of businesses or everything going to the 'Jawai'.

I hate to say it but I think its inevitable it was going to happen. In the older times most girls were married by 14 and were illiterate. It was hard but not as hard as now at least financially. I guess if someone had changed these views 100 years ago we wouldn't be at the stage we are now.

Also, lets not forget the dodgy doctors who perform these operations. They make abortion like a drive-thru. Come in, get the operation done and forget about it. It is ridiculous. Parents don't think about what they are doing at all.
Sep 13, 2006
Why call her bad when kings are born by her, yes that is the spirit. But what happens when queens/ kaurs/rajkumaris are born by her.
Mere recital of these lines provides lip service only & no respect for the pains she bears to bear & rear the “ kaurs” ( dignified half of the society)
But the elder kaur has to get awaken & accept her own dignity & realize the kaur power before she can nurture another kaur in her womb & not succumb to the pressures of the society. Only then the society can be decorated with few more ,mata gujari ,mai bhago so on.
rather than degrading her fellow kaurs , she needs to support them for good cause so that more singhs can be the kings.
Aug 18, 2005
Fremont, California
I visited Harmandar Sahib last year. I went to Baba Deep Singh Guru Granth Sahib upstairs on Harmandar Sahib. This granth is hand written and very big. I came close to the bir, and the akhanda paathi was doing his job by waving his hand to communicate to me to move away. He did not know that I speak and read Panjabi. I told his 'STOP IT'. Then I sat down to read the akhanda paath for a few moments, but not enough for anyone to notice or complain about him.

The next day I visited Avtar Singh Makar, head of akhal takht over there to ask if I could do kirtan. He said never, women will never do it there. I told him that women gave birth to Guru Nanak and that they cook the roti, why do the men eat it? I told this that Badal Family and Takhsalis under Indian Government controls all of this. Makar Singh could not answer this. It was a very friendly conversation. Not meant to intimidate.

I also spoke to the secretary and got the same response. I handed over my Hebrew translation of Jap Ji Sahib to the secretary, don't remember his name, and he accepted my translation and put it on the shelf file saying, "I'll contract you when we review it." I doubt it they will.

My biography and this event is posted in Rozana Spokesman. It happened end of May 2009, but wasn't posted until June or July.

When I read akhada paath in the Fremont gurdwara, they are ashamed to put the speaker in front of me. There are sometimes 30 paaths in o ne room or ten. But when it is my turn for the speaker, they take it away immediately. Perhaps they are ashamed of my accent. When I visited England this summer, everyone was excited to hear my paath on the speaker. I even read the shlok mehela 9.

I am not boasting of me, but of the greatness of Guru Granth Sahib. When should Fremont worry about my gori accent? The sangat likes my accent, but someone in the management either does not care or is against my reading. When and IF I have duties, I am assigned hidden in the back room akhanda paath or given only late night duties.


1947-2014 (Archived)
Jun 17, 2004
Why call her bad when kings are born by her, yes that is the spirit. But what happens when queens/ kaurs/rajkumaris are born by her.
Mere recital of these lines provides lip service only & no respect for the pains she bears to bear & rear the “ kaurs” ( dignified half of the society)
But the elder kaur has to get awaken & accept her own dignity & realize the kaur power before she can nurture another kaur in her womb & not succumb to the pressures of the society. Only then the society can be decorated with few more ,mata gujari ,mai bhago so on.
rather than degrading her fellow kaurs , she needs to support them for good cause so that more singhs can be the kings.

Yes, women have to value their daughters and give them confidence -- or the kaurs will never be able to raise singhs and kaurs who are truly centered and grounded in their true identity. It takes both kaurs and singhs to turn this world in the direction of Virtue.


1947-2014 (Archived)
Jun 17, 2004
harsimiritkaur ji

Maybe I read your comments 6 or 7 times recognizing something different each time I read that was also part of my own experience. My comments are not comforting at all but maybe touch on a part of the reality.

Sikhism is about 500 years old. Sikhism has suddenly -- in the past 20 or 30 years, and mostly in the last 10 years -- become very attractive to converts from diverse backgrounds. Sikhism, a religion that excludes no one in theory has also been enmeshed those 500 years in the culture and language of northern India, and in the diaspora. With few exceptions gurdwaras are founded by Punjabi communities and serve the sangat's purpose of maintaining religion as part of a cultural tradition. Now here we are -- all of us these converts -- asking people who can trace their family lineage back in some cases 1000 years to change their perspective on their culture and religion and admit us into their world.

Converts to Sikhism come from religions that are organized to assimilate newcomers quickly into their religions. Sikhism is not organized that way -- it is a way of life and the newcomers have to find their place in it. Sorry to say it creates the impression of not including but excluding. But we are asking Sikhs after 500 years to change a way of life. Changing the political culture, the social culture, the culture of language, the sense of ownership, the imperative to open up and share in sangats and gurdwaras-- these are really hard things to do.

This should however also give sangats something to think about.


Apr 3, 2005
Father kills mother over daughter's marriage

Infuriated over his daughter's marriage to a boy against his wishes in this district, a retired army man allegedly attempted to shoot his son-in-law but ended up killing his mother who tried to intervene.
On learning that Balihar, who had married his daughter Kamaljit Kaur in a Chandigarh court a few weeks ago, was back in Brahmpura village, the accused Gurdeep Singh, along with six others, barged into the house of his son-in-law yesterday.
Gurdeep Singh, carrying a .12-bore gun, fired at Balihar while his mother Manjit Kaur rushed to protect her son. She was shot twice, police said today. Senior Superintendent of Police, Patiala, Arpit Shukla said it was a kind of honour killing.
The couple belonged to the same village and their alliance was objected to by the girl s family, he said.
Gurdeep Singh was caught by villagers and handed him over to the police. Police said the accused and six others had been arrested and the matter was being investigated.


Jul 25, 2009
Re: Missing Sikh Girl

Sau ku Manda akhei jis jame rajan!

Our gurbani says that....but no matter how much we read it daily we do not understand the meaning behind it.

TO answer why sikh kills his/ her own daugther or why they mistreat them we first have to ask such people do they call themselves tru sikh?

Kaur adds power but where is the power......greed may not be social pressure yes.......trememdous......none of us have the strength to live against the society we live in........

When ladies come to the house to not give blessing for the new born girl but to ake the parents feel bad...do w have the courage to tell them to get out......no because we want to be good.........we want to be known..........

That is the reason........after weeding people come to see what the girl brought with her.......do the in-lwas have courage to say she brought love and respect.......nah......things start to count........bitterness starts to creep........

Coming back a true sikh thinks different and more importantly acts different........guru gobind singhji made us ifferent but we choose to be same..........



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