“It doesn’t have to be this way”

It’s easy to forget the disturbing question underlying the effervescent Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge and other movies like it — how can hitherto loving families erupt into internecine turmoil so abruptly? Even allowing for cinematic conventions, can the sudden ruthlessness be attributed to culture-specific tradition (then, what of it?), or is it a strain of darkness that can surface in anyone, anytime — this concern with “honour” or whatever name there is for it? Another dreadful honour killing has hit the headlines, this time because the victim had something of a voice:

Coroner rules teenager unlawfully killed
Helen Carter

A young woman who claimed she was held down and beaten by her parents and was fearful of an arranged marriage was unlawfully killed in a “very vile murder”, a coroner ruled yesterday.

The body of Shafilea Ahmed, 17, of Warrington, Cheshire, was found in a flooded river in Sedgwick, Cumbria, in February 2004, five months after she disappeared from her home after a trip to Pakistan in which she was introduced to a suitor. During the trip, she drank bleach and harmed herself in an apparent cry for help.

How does it ever seem worthwhile?

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