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A horror in Kashmir

A complete and utter horror.

Muzaffarabad: A mother and father in Pakistan-administered Kashmir killed their 15-year-old daughter by dousing her with acid after seeing her talking to a young man, police said on Thursday.

By dousing her with acid. Can there be a worse way to die? Being set on fire, perhaps.

And for talking to a man. Parents. Their child. Acid. Talking to a man.

Local police officer Tahir Ayub told AFP the father, Mohammad Zafar, had had suspicions about his daughter Anvu Sha and became enraged when he saw her with a boy outside their home on Monday.

“Zafar beat her up and then poured acid over her with the help of his wife. She was badly burnt but they did not take her to hospital until the next morning, and she died on Wednesday,” Ayub said.

Doctor Mohammad Jahangir of the state run Kotli hospital confirmed the death, saying the girl was brought to hospital in a “very critical condition” with almost 70 per cent burns.

She must have been screaming with agony all night. Apparently they just sat around listening.

Comments

  1. Beatrice, anti-imperialist anti-racist Islamophobiaphobic leftist says

    I suppose it’s too much to expect that those two sorry excuses for parents will be properly prosecuted and not set free on basis of “religious reasons” or some such tosh.

  2. jaytheostrich says

    Religious or mostly cultural, they’ve clearly given up their humanity. I wonder if they’d have expected the same from their parents, and if they would deem it justified.

  3. Scote says

    As much as religion plays a significant role in these atrocities, it seems to have even more to do with “honor” based societies, where “honor” is more important than people.

    How many atrocities have been committed in the name of honor? And in what horrible kind of society can one have more honor by pouring acid on a girl rather than less?

    However, honor-based crime isn’t limited to middle eastern societies, the duels to the death for Shakespeare made fun of:

    “Nay, an there were two such, we should have none
    shortly, for one would kill the other. Thou! why,
    thou wilt quarrel with a man that hath a hair more,
    or a hair less, in his beard, than thou hast: thou
    wilt quarrel with a man for cracking nuts, having no
    other reason but because thou hast hazel eyes: what 20
    eye but such an eye would spy out such a quarrel?
    Thy head is as fun of quarrels as an egg is full of
    meat, and yet thy head hath been beaten as addle as
    an egg for quarrelling: thou hast quarrelled with a
    man for coughing in the street, because he hath
    wakened thy dog that hath lain asleep in the sun:
    didst thou not fall out with a tailor for wearing
    his new doublet before Easter? with another, for
    tying his new shoes with old riband? and yet thou
    wilt tutor me from quarrelling!”

    And people men still kill each other in Compton for looking at them “wrong” or for looking at their girl. What difference is there between the duels between Elizabethan nobles and drive bys by gang bangers when they kill each other over trivial perceived slights?

    I bring up these tangential examples of honor-based violence for context. How do we stop them? It isn’t as easy as getting rid of religion, though that might help to some degree.

  4. Beatrice, anti-imperialist anti-racist Islamophobiaphobic leftist says

    Well, these “honor systems” aren’t necessarily religious, but most current ones seem to be deeply intertwined with religion. A counter-example that comes to mind are blood feuds in Albania.

    Similarly to what we’ve been discussing in the Guest Post thread about slave owners, belief in the genuine value of this fake “honor” and belief that it is God who mandates it are reinforcing each other. So you have religion which has misogyny as one of its main traits, and you have people who enjoy the power treating more than half the populace like shit gives them.

  5. eric says

    Truly horrible.

    The cynic in me says she was probably screwed from the outset: had she not talked to the young man, he would’ve killed her because his honor would’ve been affronted.

  6. Beatrice, anti-imperialist anti-racist Islamophobiaphobic leftist says

    So yeah, if you want to fight this shit, you have to fight it on two fronts: against religion and against misogyny that is entrenched in the society.

    Some misogyny comes from religion, but I think a lot of it is just excused and reinforced by religion.

    (Note that I’m focusing on misogynist crimes like the one in the OP. I would not be opposed to a generalized discussion about the harm that comes from some interpretations of honor, but I’m not sure if it’s appropriate on this topic. It just seems a bit too general to be useful when talking about such extremes as throwing acid in a girl’s face because she was seen talking to a boy.)

  7. Scote says

    ” but I’m not sure if it’s appropriate on this topic. It just seems a bit too general to be useful when talking about such extremes as throwing acid in a girl’s face because she was seen talking to a boy.”

    It does seem that way, but is it that different from shooting someone because they looked at your girl? Either way, a perceived slight to one’s honor leads to horrific violence.

    The way “honor” incited crimes are carried out against women does reek of deeply entrenched cultural misogyny, especially given the asymmetrical way they are targeted and carried out towards women and less often towards the men involved. Trying to fight it head on just on the basis of the misogyny is the obvious choice. But I don’t think we should be quick to dismiss opportunities to look at the larger problem of honor-based violence. We shouldn’t give up any potential tools that can be used to fight this.

  8. John Kruger says

    I want to try and relate with people, even when they do horrible things, but I just cannot relate to people like this. I can’t even imagine not risking my life to stop such a thing from happening to a full grown person, much less a child, much less my own child. I could not justify such horror for any offense, let alone the “offense” of talking to a member of the opposite sex.

    I just have no way to relate to such people. I can only think of them as complete monsters. Nothing can ever justify such atrocities, nothing.

  9. Beatrice, anti-imperialist anti-racist Islamophobiaphobic leftist says

    Scote

    But I don’t think we should be quick to dismiss opportunities to look at the larger problem of honor-based violence. We shouldn’t give up any potential tools that can be used to fight this.

    Well, I don’t want to dismiss it either, but there are very different reasons for different kinds of honor-based violence (mainly religious and all the other). I agree that it is valuable to look at it from the “how we define honor” side, but it’s also a bit of a less relevant side in misogyny&religion based violence. How do you get to discussing what these people consider honor when you have to wade through tons of religious excuses and reasons (while having a hard time distinguishing between the two), and disentangling all those from some general misogyny?
    It would be an interesting thing to research, that’s for certain.

  10. mythbri says

    Yes, but acid attacks that disproportionally target women are not acts of misogyny.

    ….Wait.

  11. Scote says

    “Yes, but acid attacks that disproportionally target women are not acts of misogyny.

    ….Wait.”

    Has anyone actually said that in this thread or are you attacking a straw man?

    Trying to combat violence is complex, and as tempting as it may be to want to simplify it to “misogyny” and nothing else, you aren’t going to solve the issue by not understanding the full extent of the circumstances that contribute to these attacks against women any more than you could solve them by banning acid. Simplistic thinking is the hallmark of the people who’s violence we oppose. We aren’t going to solve the issue by doing the same thing.

  12. says

    Excuse me, I’ll be in the Angry Dome. Again.

    Yeah, it grinds my gears to see girls and women subjected to… to… that, for any reason. Hell, it grinds my gears to see girls and women subjected to any violence or sexism, regardless of the severity.

    *stomps off to look at ICHC*

  13. callistacat says

    OK, now throwing acid in girls faces for talking to boys isn’t misogynistic. Whose honor is being defended? The dead girl who died a slow, painful death or the father? This is about insulting a man’s manhood and/or property. That includes shooting a guy because he looked at at your girlfriend (your property). This is sexual politics, it’s not simplistic to point that out. It *is* the root of the problem.

  14. Scote says

    “This is sexual politics, it’s not simplistic to point that out. It *is* the root of the problem.”

    Yes, it is simplistic. Misogyny minus violence and honor based society doesn’t have acid attacks. Yes, the attacks are horrifically misogynistic, nobody in this thread AFIK, has said otherwise. But just like fire, there are multiple components that are needed for the effect to be sustained. Fires can be put out by attacking any of the three parts of the fire triangle, fuel, oxygen and heat. The acid attacks on women have multiple components of which misogyny is a key component, but a component, none the less, not the entirety. Don’t let your own visceral reactions let you be as simplistic as the people you oppose.

  15. callistacat says

    “Don’t let your own visceral reactions let you be as simplistic as the people you oppose.”

    Oh, please. This is about seeing women’s sexuality as evil and shameful. A girl who talks to a man is considered a slut, therefore she must be punished. This mentality isn’t limited to Islamic countries, it’s a global problem that manifests in different ways and different degrees. There might be other components, like following “tradition” and believing God excuses or approves of this behavior, but the reason God supposedly approves is because He thinks women are evil and slutty by nature and must be controlled by any means necessary.

  16. S Mukherjee says

    Callistacat, I am not sure why you are so bent on making the point that this kind of violence is widespread in many different societies, religious or otherwise. It is no secret that misogyny exists in almost every society. But the chap shooting someone for looking at his girl is shooting someone who is perceived as a rival. In contrast, these parents murdered their OWN CHILD in a horrifyingly painful way. There is certainly a difference between the two cases.

  17. Beatrice, anti-imperialist anti-racist Islamophobiaphobic leftist says

    Scote,

    callistacat said that misogyny is the root of the problem, not that there are no other factors involved.

    You are trying a bit too hard to make this all about honor.

  18. Beatrice, anti-imperialist anti-racist Islamophobiaphobic leftist says

    Don’t let your own visceral reactions let you be as simplistic as the people you oppose.

    Wait, since when are people she opposes simplistic? You are the one arguing that the people we all oppose aren’t simplistic, but driven by various things. And I agree with that, just that I put most of the emphasis on misogyny and religion, not honor. Honor is something that is in the picture, but in connection to the other two. It’s difficult to separate it.

  19. Rob says

    Scote & S Mukherjee

    I feel you are in danger of taking such finely nuanced positions that your stance becomes counter productive.

    We all seem to be in agreement that violence is wrong and is not an answer in situations such as this. We all seem to be in agreement that misogyny exists and that this acid attack and the shooting the man who looked at his girl example are both representations of this. Honour based societies of whatever creed act as amplifiers of these issues.

    To argue that Callisticat’s view is somehow wrong or out of proportion distracts from the fundamental point being made by the OP, does not clarify any productive and meaningful point of philosophy with real world impact and, for me at least, is just perverse argument for arguments sake. Can I suggest that if it is an argument you really want to have you just pick it up and take it to Thunderdome? I’m sure there are people there who will ant to engage over the issues you raise.

    Incidentally I have suffered very minor acid burns and have investigated serious industrial accidents involving people being doused in concentrated sulphuric acid. This is a horror that I would not wish on my worst enemy.

  20. callistacat says

    @S Mukherjee

    Yes, they are absolutely different cases. I couldn’t agree more. I’m not, as you say, ” bent on making the point that this kind of violence is widespread in many different societies, religious or otherwise.”

    Parent’s murdering their own child in such an horrific way, completely oblivious to their child’s suffering, is just beyond appalling. I didn’t make the comparison to men shooting other men for looking at their girl in Compton, California. Scote did. But both do have a connection to what honor means for a male, though not in the same degree by a long shot (sorry, no pun intended).

    No, acid throwing isn’t widespread, that’s not what I meant. But violence against women for showing any signs of sexuality is widespread. And as I said they don’t always manifest in such a horrific degree as in this case. I didn’t mean to derail, but I disagree with Scote’s claim that misogyny isn’t the main motivation for throwing acid in the faces of women and girls for “dishonoring” their parents by talking to a member of the opposite sex.

  21. Scote says

    “Beatrice, anti-imperialist anti-racist Islamophobiaphobic leftist says:

    You are trying a bit too hard to make this all about honor.”

    Except I’m not doing that at all.

    These horrific attacks are not **all** about any one thing. See my fire triangle analogy. Rather they are the culmination of multiple factors, of which sickening misogyny is a primary component, which we should fight.

    However. Let’s try to look at a situation that is horrific *dispassionately* for a minute rather than just with gut reactions. Does anyone think we can eliminate misogyny in the Middle East any time soon? I don’t. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t work towards that goal. Now, as to preventing acid attacks, we should attack as many factors that lead up to them as possible, a mulch-pronged approach, and the factors include concepts of honor that allow for horrific violence in general, not just against women.

  22. Beatrice, anti-imperialist anti-racist Islamophobiaphobic leftist says

    And I’m not claiming it’s all about one thing! How many times do I have to repeat it? But the root problem is misogyny. It’s not the only problem, but denying it is the root problem is ridiculous.

    And no, I can’t be dispassionate about people throwing acid in women’s faces. Sorry.

  23. callistacat says

    Scote, it’s your opinion that we are just going on gut reactions and not arguing dispassionately. I’m not being emotional when I say the belief that if girls and women aren’t completely asexual and virginal they deserve to be punished. The “honor” is based on that standard for female sexuality. The honor defense has also been used in some South American countries…if a woman is cheating on her husband or ex-husband/boyfriend he can kill her and it’s considered justifiable homicide.

  24. No Light says

    Why is there always, ALWAYS someone who has to insist. that women are just too emotional to know what the real issue is.

    Misogyny you say? Hell naw, it’s more comp-li-cated than that, too much for my candy floss laydeebrains to process.

    That poor kid. That night must have felt like forever.

  25. Shaker Srinivasan says

    Acid or not, misogyny or not, it is a brutal murder, filicide, and “honor” killing. That “honor” killing is spread across many religions and societies does not negate religion as the root cause. Read any religious book on god(s)’ rules of behavior, and you’ll see misogyny written all over. “Does god hate women?” If he exists, he does, indeed.

    Some societies have moved on – I am fortunate to live in one, as I am sure, many of you do – replacing god’s laws with more civilized laws. They are not perfect, and have not realized the ideal of “one law for all”, but I can live with them. Others are not that fortunate. Their societies remain mired in antiquated laws that god handed to them through his chosen prophet(s), always in the complete privacy of a cave, a mountain top, or a rambling bush, centuries ago.

    Take a look at the laws in one of these societies: Pakistani law and honour killings. Here’s an excerpt from Wikipedia:

    More importantly, the Hudood Ordinance diminishes women’s legal abilities, as women become legally defined and situated as dependents of their biological family and community. Pakistani women in legal contexts are not defined as “sui juris,” that is, within the bounds of personhood, autonomy, and independent decision-making.

    Are you a woman? Sorry, you have no “personhood”.

    If the state doesn’t recognize the victim as “sui juris”, is it any surprise that a deviant killer does not? What stops him from killing a woman with impunity, even if she were his daughter, wife, or sister, for “honor”, for money, or for sex? He knows very well that Shariah will ensure that he will walk free, at worst after paying a few rupees as diyat!

  26. eric says

    @26:

    Others are not that fortunate. Their societies remain mired in antiquated laws that god handed to them through his chosen prophet(s), always in the complete privacy of a cave, a mountain top, or a rambling bush, centuries ago.

    I think honor in these societies serves as an (albeit poor) substitute for records and solid identification. When a western bank considers lending one of its citizens money, they don’t have to trust you; they can look up your loan history. When western police investigate a crime, they can look for forensic evidence. Imagine you live in a society where nobody has such a recorded background and there is no capability to collect such evidence. What does such a society do? Forego all credit transactions? Never convict anyone of a crime? That’s a bit unworkable. No, what you do then is trust people because you are forced to – but to make it more reliable, you create a social system that makes breaches of honor highly punishable. You make people fear for their life if they break social contracts, because social contracts are the only real tool you have.

    Now, this is a really horrible system. About the only good thing about it is that its economically and legally better than no system at all (again; if the only thing your society has is eyewitness testimony, are you going to just never convict anyone of a crime, or rely on it? You have to do the latter.) My point in bringing all this up is, it serves a positive social function in addition to being a horrible tool of misogyny, and so you will never, ever, convince the society to abandon it until you first replace it with something that can serve the function it does.

    IOW – you’re going to have to bring these societies out of 3rd world poverty and stone age infrastructure, into the 1st world, before they give up their honor-based system.

    Which, if you think about it, is exactly what happened in the western world. We killed each other in duels of honor and over insults to our honor well into the mid-1800s. That’s after the industrial revolution and mass use of recordkeeping. And its contemporaneous with the beginnings of the use of fingerprinting in criminal investigation. We did not give up our honor system until we had modern systems of identity tracking, methods of collecting and using physical evidence, and so on. We should not expect other cultures will respond favorably to our attempts to kick the basis of their economic, legal and criminal justice system out from under them until they have something to replace it.

  27. Tim Harris says

    The question that immediately leaps out at me in connexion with this horrible case (and I’m sorry if it seems trivial beside the fervour above) is this: do families in Pakistan keep jars of acid in their homes in case their daughters step put of line? Or are their special shops all over the place that sell to an impoverished populace (mostly the male portion of it) acid for these punishments? Or do you just go to your local car repair shop or something?

  28. latsot says

    Tim Harris: I’ve often wondered the same thing and I don’t think it’s a trivial question. Wherever they’re getting their acid, it points to pre-meditation. Either they have it lying about just in case or they go to the trouble of finding out where to get it or draining a battery or whatever before they pour it on people in cold blood.

    The idea that everyone just knows where to buy acid for pouring on people is especially chilling.

  29. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    Tim, I was thinking the exact same thing. How is it that full-strength industrial acid seems to be a household staple like flour or salt?

  30. mythbri says

    @Scote

    Beatrice was correct when she linked to the comment I was referencing – I thought it would be clear, and I apologize for making the assumption that people would understand the context when I didn’t provide it.

    But this:

    Simplistic thinking is the hallmark of the people who’s violence we oppose.

    What about misogyny is simplistic to you? How is it simple to look at half of the human race and assign them little to no value? If you think of simple in terms of easy, how easy is it to assume that you have the right to control, torture and kill these “lesser” humans?

    It seems to me that it takes a great deal of mental tap-dancing to continue this behavior untroubled, secure in the belief that it’s completely justified due to the inherent inferiority of its targets. It seems to me that failing to recognize half of your own species as equal members of that same species takes a lot of complicated mental constructs to support.

    You only think that it’s simple because it seems like this is the way it’s always been.

    It’s not that simple.

  31. Shaker Srinivasan says

    @27

    We should not expect other cultures will respond favorably to our attempts to kick the basis of their economic, legal and criminal justice system out from under them until they have something to replace it.

    I cannot comment on the state of all the “other cultures”, but I question the applicability of your statement to a neighboring culture – India – where I had spent more than three decades.

    As you may know, this was just one “culture” – at least in regard to the relevant aspects – until the British left, after dividing it into two states with religion as the basis for the division. Since then India has evolved into a passably secular state with secular laws, mostly mimicking British Law. Pakistan has not, veering increasingly towards a theocratic state. Why?

    Of course, the founding fathers of India were mostly secular, but so was Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the architect of Pakistan. To his credit, he did attempt to constitute a secular state, but his efforts came to a naught. Religion quickly took a stranglehold of institution-building in that country, and what you see today is the result of that stranglehold. I do not know enough about Iran, but I’d hazard the conjecture that what started as a “Persian Spring” ended in a theocratic winter for a similar reason. I’ll not be surprised if today’s “Arab Spring” follows the same path, too.

    Economy (poverty) certainly plays a role in all this, but let us not underestimate the overwhelming power of religion in shaping societies.

  32. Scote says

    “No Light says:
    November 1, 2012 at 5:54 pm

    Why is there always, ALWAYS someone who has to insist. that women are just too emotional to know what the real issue is.”

    Who has said that? I don’t know the gender of people making the comments here. And who has said “the real issue”? I haven’t, I’ve only argued that simplistic thinking is the hallmark of the people who commit these crimes and to solve them we have to be better than them in a number of ways.

    The misogyny in the acid attacks is the most visible issue, the way the hot flame is the most visible part of a fire. But you can put out fires a number of ways, including by scattering the fuel, starving the fire of oxygen as well as reducing the heat.

    Someone said they couldn’t be dispassionate about these attacks, and I don’t say they should loose their passion, but I do say that we should be able to back off long enough to evaluate the circumstances, and how we can effectively respond, dispassionately. Would a passionate firefighter who just saw the heat and flame make a good firefighter? No, they would not. They need to understand firefighting, and the complexities of fire, at a level beyond gut reaction. We can use our passion to help us but we shouldn’t let it use us. Let your passion motivate you, but let it motivate you to do something that is rational and thoughtful, and not to shout down people who so much as suggest that life, and human motivation, is complex and that solutions to life and human problems are likewise.

    “Complex problems have simple, easy to understand, wrong answers.” –HL Mencken

  33. callistacat says

    “Let your passion motivate you, but let it motivate you to do something that is rational and thoughtful, and not to shout down people who so much as suggest that life, and human motivation, is complex and that solutions to life and human problems are likewise.”

    Yes, yes, complex. No one was shouting you down, they were stating their opinions. So what are your solutions? Other than telling people life is complex?

    You’ve offered nothing of any value other than telling everyone else they are acting as simple-minded as the people who throw acid on their daughters.

  34. Badland says

    Fuck.

    I follow Ed because he amuses me, I follow PZ because he educates me, but sweet christ Ophelia, sometimes I wonder why I follow you.

    Okay, obvious rhetoric is obvious. I follow you because I learn the most from you. But I wish we lived in a world where you had nothing to write about.

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