A 70 year old grandmother in England was sentenced to a 20 year term in jail for ordering the murder of her daughter-in-law who she claimed had been guilty of adultery. Bachan Athwai arranged for her brother to strangle Surjit Athwai and then dump her body in a river. Ms. Athwai was on a trip back to India with her mother-in-law when she mysteriously disappeared. Her children were told she had run away with a man and all traces of her existence whether pictures of writing were destroyed. The judge told the murderers, “The pair of you decided that the so-called honour of your family members was worth more than the life of this young woman.”
The judge is correct, it is “so-called honour” which impels people to brutalize or murder someone who they claim has violated some aspect of family or religious traditions. In this case, Ms. Athwai was murdered because she apparently had a mind of her own and was attempting to stand up for her rights. Her mother-in-law believed once in the family, the individual belonged to the family.