Today, I’m presenting a guest post by Pakistani activist Khalida Brohi. Hailing from a Brauhi family from Balochistan, settled in upper Sindh, Khalida was lucky enough to have a father who supported her education. But she witnessed the terrible tradition of honour killing in her family when a cousin was killed for falling in love with someone of her own choice. She created the Sughar Foundation, an organization that helps other young women to escape that fate.
Her memoir I Should Have Honor: A Memoir of Hope and Pride in Pakistan is being published by Penguin Random House this fall.
I Should Have Honor
A Memoir of Hope and Pride in Pakistan
Honor is a very sensitive topic in Pakistan. Honor can raise someone from the ashes and kill a living person to dust. Honor is the most important possession in our tribal and semi- tribal societies.
I belong to a tribal community in Balochistan, Pakistan, and we have a saying in my village: even if we have nothing, we should have honor. Honor is more valuable than all the money in the world. Which is why it is so important to ask: what is honor? Growing up a girl in tribal society of Pakistan, I always knew that the honor of my father depended on me, and that his honor mattered the most, but I never understood what exactly that meant. I knew of hushed stories of wives dishonoring their husbands and daughters dishonoring their fathers, but no one told me as a child what they did to deserve such a dishonorable status. Until one day when my father called me into his office and sat me on his lap. He asked me the one question that I dreaded most:
“Khali, do you know how you will dishonor me?” His tone was both gentle and concerned. My mouth went dry. I could hear my own breathing, and my vision began to narrow. I had no idea. I only knew that what ever he said would be scary. I shook my head.
“My Khali, you will dishonor me the day you bring home bad grades.”
Did I hear him correctly? I thought he was going to tell me that I was grown up now and would have to stay indoors, that I would have to cover-up whenever I went anywhere, that it was improper for me to talk to any boys or men. My father that very day changed the entire definition of honor for me and with it saved me from submitting myself to the one and only definition of honor we all knew. He showed me that true honor is standing up for what we value. What helps us grow, helps us thrive and dignifies us. For him that dignity lay in educated daughters and I knew men whose dignity lay in daughters dragged outside of home by men, killed and buried like animals.
Later, my life would come to a place when I would be asked to speak up against the criminalizing of honor, when my fathers definition of honor would be questioned by his own brother, when I would meet the death of my own cousin whose only sin was to fall in love.
And so, I spent my life fighting honor crimes, I began by going out on the streets and challenging the policies thinking that’s the only way, but soon realized that what needed to be done was to go to each single man, each single woman and ask them this one question. What dignifies them and why?
In our journey towards fighting honor killings in Pakistan through my non profit Sughar Foundation, now based in United States, we have come face to face with what makes men shed all their love for that little daughter they once held and or what leads them to cry alone in the dark of the night because they can’t be unmanly and share their grief.
Honor and the lack of it became a critical subject for me when I fell in love. When I married the man I loved and years after the brutal death of my cousin, I felt like it’s time to tell her story and tell the story of honor. Three years later, I have finished writing my memoir and ready to share it with the world in the name of I Should Have Honor. Because honor is not the inheritance of men, nor is it something filthy the way it has been made to seem, honor is everyone’s gift.
My memoir published by Random House is not just the story of my cousin, but the untold stories of hundreds of women and it is the untold story of the beautiful tribal traditions that get buried under the weight of ugly crimes like honor killings.
The book is available on 4th of September 2018 but you can pre-order today here: http://bit.ly/2JZAnOZ