A man can justify an act of murder if he is protecting any of three things, the saying goes: land, gold, and women (zan, zar, zameen in Urdu). Last week in Bombay I went to a preview screening of this movie, and despite its grim subject I am glad I did. Honor killing is a practice that continues today—crossing borders, culture and religion—and this is a compelling watch if you get the chance to see it (more on that later). Most people’s views (including mine) of honor killing have been skewed by misconceptions which the film takes pains to clear.
The concept of honor killing has its roots in the tribal code above which predates religions and cultures, but has been adopted by societies where the idea of woman as man’s property is embraced. This conceit is of course nothing new, not even in American society (where women are often part of an equation alongside fast cars and big houses as a sign of a man’s success). The belief that honor killing stems from Islamic tenets is simply not true; in fact honor killings take place in Latin America and other places where male-dominated culture also prevails. It is chilling to me sometimes what a very thin line separates “us” from “them.”