In The Name of Honour

Warning: I usually try to keep my posts short, but I’m pissed off. Pissed off with the things that I read and see in the news. Therefore, who knows how long this rant will take.

The other day, I was sitting in the bank, waiting to retrieve some things from my safe. As I waited, I saw the national newspaper on the desk in front of me, so I picked it up to have a flick through. Politics, politics, politics… And then my eyes caught sight of a tiny box with the heading, ‘Brutally raped by mullah, 10-year-old Afghan girl faces murder by own family’.

First thing’s first – a little overview of the incident. Here’s the news article itself from The Indian Express:

It was bad enough that the alleged rape took place in the sanctity of a mosque, and that the accused man was a mullah who invoked the familiar defence that it had been consensual sex.

But the victim was only 10 years old. And there was more: The authorities said her family members openly planned to carry out an “honour killing” in the case — against the young girl. The mullah offered to marry his victim instead.

This past week, the awful matter became even worse.

On Tuesday, local policemen removed the girl from the shelter that had given her refuge and returned her to her family, despite complaints from women’s activists that she was likely to be killed.

The head of the Women for Afghan Women shelter here where the girl took refuge, Dr Hassina Sarwari, was at one point driven into hiding by death threats from the girl’s family and others.

The accused mullah, Mohammad Amin, was arrested and confessed to having sex with the girl after Quran recitation classes at the mosque on May 1, but claimed that he thought the girl was older and that she responded to his advances.

The girl’s own testimony, and medical evidence, supported a rape so violent that it caused a fistula, or a break in the wall between the vagina and rectum, according to the police and the official bill of indictment. She bled so profusely after the attack that she was at one point in danger of losing her life.

Photographs of the girl that Sarwari took in the hospital clearly show a pre-pubescent child, and the doctor said the girl weighed only 40 pounds. The girl’s mother said she was 10, and a forensic examination in the hospital agreed.

Such honour killings in rape cases are common in Afghanistan, and are often more important to the victim’s family than vengeance against the attacker. Human rights groups say about 150 honour killings a year come to light.

When Sarwari, who is a pediatrician, arrived to pick up the girl at the hospital, a crowd of village elders from the girl’s home village were gathered outside the hospital; the girl’s brothers, father and uncle were among them. Inside, Sarwari encountered the girl’s aunt, who told her she had been ordered by her husband to sneak the girl out of the hospital and deliver her to the male relatives outside. “She said they wanted to take her and kill her, and dump her in the river,” Sarwari said.

The first thought that ran through my head: typical how they reserve so many pages and large headlines for pointless, monotonous crap about corrupt politicians, and yet the paper decides to spare only a teeny, tiny box in the corner to announce this abysmal news.

The second thought that ran through my head: abysmal news indeed. How undue for an innocuous little ten-year-old to have to face an honour killing for something she had not wanted. NO ONE wants to be a victim of rape. It’s a repulsive act that deserves a much more ruthless punishment brought on to the perpetrator than the ones that, for example, already exist in India.

The question of morals is a problematic topic. No one really has the ability to correctly define what is right or wrong. It becomes a personal conundrum; what may be right for you, may be entirely wrong for someone else. And thus, challenges are brought about. Yet, I do believe there are some things shared among humans that we mutually believe is universally right and wrong.

It is also understood that multiple cultures exist within our common world. Honour killings have existed for a while, in which case a person is killed by their own family for having brought dishonour towards them in the form of being a victim of sexual assault or rape, seeking a divorce from an abusive marriage, refusing an arranged marriage… you get the idea. In some cultures around the world, honour killings are not deemed to be as serious as other forms of murder because they result from age-old traditions and cultures, which conduct as its justification.

Fair enough, I thought; you can’t really argue much with different cultures because as I said, we all differ between what we believe to be right and wrong.

But, I have to ask, where does the line cross from tradition to a violation of human rights? By no means have I done a lot of research on the matter – something which I hope to do once I’ve finished this post – but from various books and autobiographies that I’ve read, I just cannot seem to comprehend the logic of killing a family member solely through the reason that they have been a victim of rape, thus bringing ‘dishonour’ to the family.

How? How can one bring dishonour by being nothing but a fatality? Why? Why does the victim have to pay the price for something so uncalled for? In this case, a ten-year-old, who I can imagine is utterly in disarray by it all.

Rape is never, in any case acceptable. What’s even more appalling with regard to this particular case is that it had happened within a supposedly safe, consecrated environment – a Mosque. Similar incidents have also happened around the world within Churches and Temples. If nowadays we cannot even feel secure in a place of worship, I fear for our world and for humanity. What kind of sick, twisted reality do we live in where we now have to be cautious even when we enter Holy grounds.

I recently read snippets from a book that gives great insight into the matter of child sexual abuse in India, Bitter Chocolate, by Pinki Virani. In it, she notes of a case of rape reported by an infuriated father of a victimised nine-year-old to the police. The inspector on duty makes this claim in response, ‘what modesty such a small child could possibly have that it can be outraged’. The police thus recommended the father to not file a case.

It took me a while to swallow that down. Did he really just ask, ‘what modesty?’ Isn’t every human being born with the entitlement and rights to the decisions regarding their own body? If we cannot protect our modesty, what CAN we protect? A small child, regardless of its age, has every right to file a complaint. It’s this type of exploitation that leaves our society in a perilous rut. The exploitation of the young with the rationalisation that children do not know better; they are naïve.

Sex education, therefore, becomes so important. We have to make children aware so they can raise their voice instead of letting them be silenced into submission. It’s not okay to be a victim of any type of sexual assault, it’s not the ‘norm’ contrary to what the child thinks; it’s just not. It’s nauseating to know that there are people who are able and willing to take advantage of a young child’s innocence.

This brings me back to the notion of honour killings. What dishonour can a ten-year-old truly bring? This whole thing is only confounding to me. Killings of adults is bad enough, but a young child? A child that is likely to be living in complete terror and dread in the wait of her death. It doesn’t seem just to me; it doesn’t seem right. And it has got to stop.

Jumpsuits

A little while ago, I had made a post on jumpsuits, which you can find here. I still stand by my point of how jumpsuits are one of the most comfiest items of clothing, yet when it comes to my attempt at accessorising them, I’m not the most striking. I’m so basic when it comes to piecing them… Which is when the gorgeous Sophie from smittensophie.com inspired me with her jumpsuit stylings.

If you haven’t checked out Sophie’s blog, I highly recommend you do, and to keep further up to date with her life and style, you should follow her on Instagram, which you can find here.

I love Sophie’s style; you can always rely on her to stand nothing less than classy, and I’m so glad she chooses NOT to dress like ‘one of the boys’ due to her male dominated field – only she can make engineering so elegant.

I was largely inspired by the way she fashioned up her jumpsuit. It’s a great piece that you can wear from day to night, and her way of accessorising is soooo much better than mine! Ladies, take note!

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For all outfit details, make sure to visit Sophie’s blog at smittensophie.com :)

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Green-Eyed Monster

He says:
Jealousy is a strong and common emotion for many people in this world. Shakespeare used to call it the ‘green-eyed monster’, and in my belief this is true; it really is something that can eat you up inside.

I think one of the biggest mistakes everybody out there can make is to dismiss the cause of jealousy. The person you love does not act in order to make you jealous (well, maybe sometimes they do, but anyways); s/he acts and you get jealous in relation to that. It is one’s own lack of self-confidence.

I, personally, am a very jealous person. I am waaay too envious and get caught up in all these thoughts like, “ok, but she sees that I love her” or “why does she feel the need to do this if she has me?” or “doesn’t she see how she hurt me like that?”
These are things you create in your little head. If you cannot accept how they appear to unintentionally hurt you, you need to talk about it.

Let me give you a tip from a situation I messed up before in the past. Instead of saying, “Your actions make me”, say, “I felt …”.
You are trying to express to the person you love that you are hurt and not that you hate them for something they did/do. Relationships can grow through the realisation that you have to fight through jealous thoughts and not bicker with the people you get jealous feelings over.

I am still in this process; I am still fighting my jealousy because I think I am not as good or not as handsome in comparison to other guys, or whatever. But at the end of the day, who are you together with? And why is this person with you and not with anyone else?

Because you are good. There are lots of good things about you, and the person you are with knows that as well – otherwise they wouldn’t stay together with you, simple.

Let me give you the last piece of advice from this topic. Jealousy is something YOU create, so YOU are the only one that can overcome it. Think about the feeling of how it is impossible for you to even consider being involved with somebody else, and think that your loved one (in most cases) actually feels that way AS WELL. That is the first step for you to realise that jealousy won’t give you anything, but those annoying voices in your head.

 

She says:
I’ve never really been the jealous type. That’s not to say I don’t believe in competition, which I think is the eventuality of any ‘jealous’ feelings I may oppress. I use my concerns to think how I can constantly better myself and be the best version of me that I can possibly be. But I’m certainly not a worrier about hypothetical misdemeanours.

What I mean is that I don’t feel the need to constantly ask the other person where they’re going, whom they’re going with and what they’re doing. If I trust that person, I wouldn’t feel the need to have such anxious thoughts and bitter feelings if, for example, they’re hanging out with a bunch of girls.

If a person wants to cheat, they cheat. I feel like it’s not something you can prevent, which is why there’s no point accumulating envious thoughts into your head, because it might not even be the case that your beloved is being unfaithful. If it happens, it happens and it’s ultimately their fault – you’re not to blame. Thus, why should you feel jealous of the people your other half is hanging out with? If they treat you, as you ought to be treated, there is no need to build on weird thoughts. Don’t they always say that overthinking leads to negativity?

But I do agree that jealousy is the cause of much misunderstanding in relationships and it can be only down to the individual to work on their feelings. Sometimes jealousy isn’t even caused by insecurity; it can be caused my multiple factors, and I do think it depends on the type of relationship that you’re in. Furthermore, I think that jealousy should not be confused with possessiveness; while I admit I have experienced a tiny bit of jealousy in the past, by no means have I ever been the possessive type – being possessive is rooted much deeper into insecurity issues, I think.

At the end of the day, all I can conclude is: you know you’re in a truly comfortable relationship when you hardly get jealous at all.

 

 

 

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Crypticodes

A collaboration post! Yes, usually it’s just guy’s talking in Guy Talk, but being the writer of The Haute Chocolate, I figured there needs to be a girl’s perspective as well on an issue that goes for both genders.

We’re more cryptic than we think we are in today’s world, especially when it comes to relationship lingo. For instance, ‘I need a break’ sugar-coats the dreaded ‘I want to break up with you’, rather than one needs a break, perhaps a weekend away, to reenergise before reclining back into the relationship. Another classic example is how ‘fine’ has become the new ‘f*ck off’. As we learnt from Two Broke Girls, “fine doesn’t mean fine. The scale goes: great, good, okay, not okay, I hate you, fine” – and it couldn’t be more true.

Now we’re not saying that we’re always talking in some kind of code; of course, ‘fine’ can actually mean ‘I’m doing fine’, and ‘I need a break’ can sometimes be for the better – in some cases actually saving the relationship. However, let’s be real, the times when we actually use these phrases honestly is when we’re corroborating the exception to the rule.

So we decided to create a fun little post drawing up a little list of some of the most common ‘crypticodes’ used in relationship.

1. I need a break
We might as well start with the first example. It’s a phrase that’s so easy to throw out in an argument and can have two principle connotations. Because it IS sometimes easily flung into a heated debate, it may not have any meaning at all other than it was used in the spur of the moment – moments when you’re so beyond mad that you just can’t deal with the other person. However, sometimes it can have a more detrimental meaning, which ultimately breaks the relationship. Often is the case where, ‘I need a break’ signifies that the person needs time to think whether he/she even wants the relationship… sometimes we have a happy ending where everyone’s singing and dancing that the happy couple are back together again, aaaaand other times (or most times) it’s a way to end the relationship.
Ending a relationship after wanting a break is such a stupid move; you give the person hope only to just say, ‘bah-bye’. If you genuinely need time to think, take a day or so – try not to drag it on for a week or more, it just makes you the bad guy.

2. It’s not you, it’s me
Classic. There are so many variations of this one: ‘I just need to be single right now’; ‘I don’t have time for a relationship’; ‘I’m so into my career’; I just think you can find someone better’. False, false, false, aaaand false. You DON’T need to be single right now. You DO have time for a relationship and you aren’t SO into your career and no they CAN’T find someone better. These are all insufficient excuses you make up in your head all because you simply just don’t want to put in the effort to make it work with this particular person for some reason or another or you can’t be honest. Whilst sometimes it may in fact be your own issues, most probably it IS them and not you that is causing you to turn the other way.
Acknowledge that people do change sometimes and that what you once thought was a perfect relationship has turned into something else. If you are not happy where you are in life, change things.

3. I’m busy right now, so we’ll talk later
Okay, maybe on occasions you are actually busy. However, it’s still likely we use this excuse when we’re not that busy at all. We’ve all been there… Telling a person that you’ll get back to them because you’re just so preoccupied, whilst simultaneously iMessaging another person and keeping that conversation flowing. Busted; you’re not busy and you’re still holding your phone, so you DID see the message that you claimed you didn’t, or didn’t receive, and no, your phone DIDN’T die. Also, not replying seems like a really bad strategy when the other person knows that your phone is constantly in your hand, at all times and wherever you go. Just reply.

4. I just need some space
This variation is slightly different to ‘I need a break’ in the sense that you only want some time alone for a little bit. While this may be true for guys, in most female cases it’s code for ‘give me more attention, you idiot, because you’re really failing at doing so’. But again, instead of telling be honest and telling the other person we crave attention, we drop hints.

And that’s what this post is mainly about. Changing the language so we mask how we actually feel or what we want to say; dropping hints to avoid honesty. We cannot give you a straight answer why this actually happens instead of being upfront and saying “You are not paying me enough attention. This is cool. Work with me.” At the end of the day you know that a relationship doesn’t “just” work; It IS work. Two individuals coming together making sacrifices on their own desires you might call it.

Try and be honest.

Wishing you all a wonderful week!

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OMG Moments

‘OMG Becky’ moments… It’s that time of the year when everything I see on social media are pictures of happy graduates, flinging their caps in the air and posing alongside fellow students and family. So of course that brings me to one of my many moments of deep thought, often presented in a concoction of fear and general babble.

It’s such a pleasure to see all these new graduates, and quite inspiring… but it brings me to think about all the hard work that’s in store when I return to London this September and come face-to-face with final year. I might as well throw my social life outside the window; I can already tell that next year is going to have a hefty load of work cut out for me.

And then that brings the next dilemma: what am I going to do with myself after the year is over?

I already plan to do a Master’s degree, that’s a given. Yet, I’ve come to realise my whole life that I’m a relentless planner, as sad as that probably sounds. I have my life mapped out – hoping it progresses accordingly, but the one thing I haven’t planned out is how I may react if things don’t go to plan.

People always tell me that I should learn to ‘go with the flow’ and to take things as they come – which I do! I really try to be spontaneous when it comes to little things, but when it comes to matters that affect my academic career and any future job prospects I simply have no ‘flow’ – my flow has to be thought out substantially.

I’m the type of girl that said, okay, here’s what I’ll do: I’ll get my degree; finish a Master’s; work for about a year or so; go back to get an MBA; then in that time settle down, hoping I would get married by around 25, which seems to be an ideal age since I can work for a bit and then maybe have my first child around 27/28.

I remember even discussing this plan with my fellow girlfriends, who also had their own timeline planned out. I guess it’s just something a lot of females do, which is kind of reassuring to know that I’m not the only freak out there.

Phew, so much to do, so little time.

EVERYTHING was mapped out, from every age, and now I just think why do I bother?

Why is it so difficult for me to just drop this stupid itinerary and just enjoy everything as they come my way? If I expect too much already from such a young age, I would only be filled with disappointment and anxiety when things don’t go accordingly to the plan.

We set ourselves goals and expectations, which are fine, but sometimes we often get too carried away with them. All my aspirations seem to lie way ahead in the future, and I say to myself, “only when I achieve that, I will be happy”… Wellll, why can’t I just be happy and satisfied now?

I get so caught up in trying to set myself the perfect life, but I simply need to learn to let go and just accept the things that come to me.

I do think there is such a thing as destiny; I do think that some things happen for a reason; and I do think that our lives have been pre-written before we came into existence.

But that doesn’t mean you should stop working hard to achieve whatever it is you set out to attain. It’s just important to realise that if things don’t go accordingly, maybe it was meant to be that way for some reason or another, which may become known to us later… or in some cases, may never become known – and that’s fine too.