Tuesday, June 12, 2007

But it won't bring her back

Once upon a time, the British colonial governor, Charles James Napier, happened across suttee, the custom of burning a widow on her dead husband's funeral pyre - a practice sometimes forcibly observed. Told by the locals that it was a religious custom, he famously replied:

Very well. We also have a custom: when men burn a woman alive, we tie a rope around their necks and we hang them. Build your funeral pyre; beside it, my carpenters will build a gallows. You may follow your custom. And then we will follow ours.

Thankfully, some of that spirit still exists today in England. The Swillers are on the case.

Of course, we've all heard of fathers who think that the boyfriend isn't nearly good enough for their little girl. The solution would seem to be to chase off the boyfriend, rather than strangle the daughter, but that's because we are obviously infidels.

At least they actually convicted the heartless sumbitz. This leaves the larger problem - first, that this practice is encouraged by some and permitted by many others; second, that the police turned a deaf ear to her when she presented them evidence that her own murder was in the works. There's talk of busting a couple of the bobbies as well, but more is required.

Suttee was outlawed in 1829; though there are still occasional cases today, the weight of law and public outcry is very strongly against it. Much the same thing happened in our country with slavery, with dueling, and is in the process of happening to smoking in public. A similar change is required when it comes to the barbarity of honor killings. Every time this happens in the West - England, Australia, Germany, the Netherlands - it has to be hammered.

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