Keeping her maiden name can save an Indian woman’s life.

I have blogged about how keeping their maiden names can save Indian women’s lives in wombs [link]. Now it seems killing an Indian citizen who carries further family lineage (and is also seen as a budhape ka sahara) is seen as a bigger crime than killing someone who doesn’t.

I have always held [link] that Indian citizens who carry further family lineage are valued more than those who don’t. The more valued they are, the more seriously any crimes against them are taken. So if they value their safety, they must carry their family names further and also be their parents’ budhape ka sahara.

In a country where the opposition goes hoarse protesting ‘Dynasty rule’ – carried forward by a daughter, we still believe only male children can carry the much valued family lineage.

Sandhya shared this link with this message:

So I have no chance of carrying on my lineage, nor do I have any support for my old age, as I have no ‘male child!’ The murder should have been reprehensible in itself, whether of a male or female child. Such statements further propogate the wrong mindsets. 

Death for killing a ‘male child, who would have carried further the family lineage’.

1. “Agony for parents for the loss of their male child, who would have carried further the family lineage, and is expected to see them through their old age, is unfathomable. Extreme misery caused to the aggrieved party certainly adds to the aggravating circumstances.” (link)

2. “Just a week ago, a bench of Justices Sathasivam and F M I Kalifulla had commuted the capital punishment of a man convicted for raping his minor daughter on the complaint of his wife. On release from jail on parole, he axed his wife and daughter to death. Both the trial court and high court had given death to the man.” (link)

Supreme Court saves from noose man who raped daughter and killed her, and also his wife

The man raped his daughter in 1999 and his wife was a witness. In January 2006, he was released on parole when he axed to death his wife and daughter. This time, his second daughter witnessed the incident and testified against him. The trial court awarded the death sentence and the high court confirmed it.

However, after comparing the aggravating and mitigating circumstances, the apex court said it was “not persuaded” to accept that the case can be called “rarest of rare”, warranting death penalty for the man who is now 48 years old.

“It was thirst for retaliation, which became the motivating factor in this case. In no words are we suggesting that the motive of the accused was correct, rather we feel it does not come within the category of ‘rarest of rare’…” the court held. [link]

Related Posts:

So what could make even the average, selfish, money-minded Indian family welcome baby girls?

First name, Unwanted. Second name, Dad’s or Husband’s name.

Can we blame everything on patriarchy?

Only when raising ideal daughters in law is not their goal, would Indian parents be able enjoy having and bringing up girl children.

Paraya dhan and her limited rights.

40 thoughts on “Keeping her maiden name can save an Indian woman’s life.

  1. Oh, this beggars belief.

    There is nothing ‘rarest of the rare’ in targeting the male child for revenge either. For revenge, sons are killed and daughters are raped. That is how it plays here – these are some of the oldest threats.

    Oh, how they reveal their biases….

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    • But also consider, what if a child was an orphan? What if it makes no difference to anybody whether the child lives or dies, then would the killers be given a lesser sentence?

      Also, I think, kidnapping of a male child is more common because it is believed that the parents would be more likely to pay ransom. If it’s a girl child the parents might consider her a ‘zinda laash’, “Who would marry a girl who has been dishonoured by an abduction?”, we have mythology to guide us about the way female victims of abductions should be treated.

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      • Logically and by any moral yardstick, the murder of a child is a murder of a child. A heinous and shocking betrayal of trust. It shouldn’t matter whose child or what gender…but given the precedent you highlighted above, we have a long way to go till we reach that point of a child being a child being a child.

        And good point about abductions of male and female children. That attitude is, unfortunately, very widespread.

        And since we are talking abductions and mythology, I somehow find myself thinking of Bana’s daughter Usha who got her friend to abduct Krishna’s grandson Anirudh because she had fallen in love with him… :) It is the only male abduction that I can remember reading about….the list of female abductees is well nigh endless.

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        • Speaking of male abductions, I believe that in the hinterlands of Madhya Pradesh and Bihar, it isn’t entirely uncommon for single males from well-to-do backgrounds to be abducted by absconding bandits to serve as husbands to their daughters. Neither of the protagonists tend to have much say in the matter, and the ‘groom’ is sometimes unconscious through the whole ceremony.

          Weird stuff.

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  2. I don’t get this thing about carrying your “lineage” forward. What is lineage anyway? Why bother about carrying forward a name that means nothing in itself. Isn’t it what you teach your children, what values you instill in them that is more important?
    What is the point in carrying forward a family name when the child is being raised to be selfish, have no respect for another human being, have no civic sense? They litter the streets, they harrass the women, they torture the hired help or anyone else they want to, as long as they can get away with it. They use their “influence” to bribe officials of the law so that the law doesn’t apply to you, and they take pride in it too.

    And they want to carry forward *that* lineage.

    It’s us against them IHM. And THEY are winning. :(

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    • I think the judges did not even realise how blatantly their bias against women and girls was revealed by the phrasing of the judgement.

      As a woman reading the verdict, I was left in no doubt that they considered a male human’s life to be more valuable than a female human’s. That they thought it fit to acquit a man who raped his daughter and killed his wife and daughter while on parole leave little doubt about their unconsicous biases.

      A girl or woman being “killed”? Meh. A man or boy being “murdered”? Bloodthirsty outrage.

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  3. There is no crime against women which could be classified as ‘rarest of rare’. This whole theory is just a means to shut us up. They have made the law, and now they will decide what falls into its eligibility criterion.

    I want to ask, a rape within wedlock is not as brutal? A rape without intentions of murder is not brutal? What the hell classifies as ‘rarest of rare’. Every rape victim has suffered the agony and our wise men just want to classify if her pain is eligible enough to give the criminals a brutal punishment or not.

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    • To add to what you’re saying, it’s so common for daughters to be raped and wife/daughter to be hacked to death that it’s technically not so rare anymore. Cynical? Yes. But true, right?

      The more brutal the crime, the harsher the penalty should be whether one person commits it or a thousand. This rarest of the rare just allows judges to play moral police.

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  4. I can’t understand the desire to carry on one’s family lineage. You’ll be dead and gone so how does it matter if your family lineage carries on or not?

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  5. “Agony for parents for the loss of their male child, who would have carried further the family lineage, and is expected to see them through their old age, is unfathomable.”

    As a daughter, that is really offensive. How can a judge get away with saying something like that? What is the point of all the ‘save the girl child’ if this is what judges say? This male child can not carry forward his ‘lineage’ without a disproportionately high contribution woman. So why does it become only ‘his’ lineage? He was also provably going to outsource their old age care to his wife, as per a good old Indian system. And yet, he gets all the credit. More importantly, the judge simply disregarded all the daughters who do or want to take care of their parents, further re-inforcing the ‘paraya dhan’ theory and the perception that only son’s parent’s get taken care of.

    As long as we don’t completely do away with this ‘ghar ka chirag’ Vs ‘paraya dhan’ nonsense, there can be no equality. I am now noticing around me that even when women are choosing to keep their maiden names, they are not able to pass them on to their children. Hyphenation doesn’t quite work because if one hyphenated parent married another, the child would have four last names. The child still gets ‘baap ka naam’. We need an alternative system of passing on names.

    I would personally prefer if when a couple married, they both choose a new family name together. Screw the whole passing on of names. Inheritance isn’t be based on the last name anyway, since daughters are also entitled to it and they usually have a different last name post marriage. Unfortunately, most men are taught to take great pride in their family names from an early age as they will be ‘carrying them on’ so I doubt they would be happy with this suggestion.

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    • My (adopted) daughter has the first name that the adoption center chose for her, and my wife’s last name. There was no logical reason for this decision – it was just something we decided at dinner one night, figuring that in case we decided to have a second child in the future, s/he would take my last name.

      So yes, the alternative system of passing on names does exist, and it is called not giving a hollow damn.

      Seriously, unless you are some kind of reigning Emperor, I don’t see the point of fussing so much over a last name that is, in all probability, perfectly ordinary and shared by thousands, if not millions of people. My wife, thankfully shares that opinion. I don’t even like my own last name (Talwar) all that much – it is far too medieval for my taste, and I sometimes wonder if I should just change it to something a bit more funky and stylish. ;)

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      • I would suggest that you go the way of Kannada movie stars, who append a “stage name” to their first names. Like Golden Star Ganesh. I’d suggest you invent a portmanteau like Awe-mazing Praveen. Just fooling around. :)

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        • Awe-mazing Praveen sounds fantastic. Makes me sound like a stage magician which, I’m sure, is going to make me much more popular at cocktails than ‘corporate drone’. Nice tip, owe you one. :D

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      • “figuring that in case we decided to have a second child in the future, s/he would take my last name.”
        Funny because husband and I have also lately been saying that when we have kids, we should have two so we can evenly split the last names in the family. ;)

        “I don’t even like my own last name (Talwar) all that much”
        I thought that my whole life about mine too. When I was a kid, I used to think I’d be happy to get rid of it upon marriage. However, when the time came, it seemed to symoblise a change of identity for me just by virtue of being married, which I didn’t like. I must have told umpteen disapproving relatives “shaadi hui hai, punar-janam nahi” (probably nicked from a bad bollywood movie).

        I would totally rather consider changing it to something funky and unrelated to marriage/ profession!

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        • I hear you. After me and the wife got engaged, she did ask me if I had a specific preference regarding changing her last name. I told her I didn’t. After a lot of thought, she ultimately went with a hyphenated name for personal use (because she is big on things like ‘cosmic connections’ and ‘synchronicity’, and felt the hyphenated name demonstrated closeness), but continued to use her own last name for professional and official purposes.

          This did not really go down very well with either of our relatives, but I guess you cannot mold your life to please other people.

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      • The Indian passport (procured from the Chennai consulate) includes both the father’s first and last name in the “middle name” column, if your last name isn’t the same as your Father’s name, or surname. Is there any way to get around this?

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        • Thumbelina,

          To the best of my knowledge, there is no rule which says that your last name must be the same as your father’s name. Unless your identity documents display your father’s name as a middle name, no one should compel you to use it on your passport. I believe there are separate fields for parental and spousal details.

          Having said that, I am not an Indian citizen, and haven’t held an Indian passport for a long time, so I am not really the best person to guide you here. Perhaps you would like to take this up with the consulate itself; at least in Delhi, they are fairly quick to respond to queries.

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        • I did not take my dad’s last name in my official papers. End it with Kaur .
          All through my college , they had this habit of add his last name on my mark sheets , even my degree .. I had to get all that corrected later .
          Then when i got my pan card done , they added my dad’s first name as my middle name , when I lost my pancard I had to send the 5 mail / documents to get that corrected . Even after all the care and caution , I ended up with wrong name of my mom on my passport ( she also doesn’t use my dad’s last name ).

          I wish people stop forcing surnames on us

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  6. I find the first ruling unfortunate, while the second one seems to be more or less in keeping with established practice in this regard.

    The murder of a child, while perhaps one of the most heinous crimes in existence, is not in itself ‘rarest of rare’ unless accompanied by thoroughly exceptional circumstances (which seem absent in the first case and in fact, much more apparent in the second).

    I am deeply dismayed by the regressive sentiments expressed here. Incidentally, this also is one of the reasons I do not like the death penalty – all too often, it is handed down in a very arbitrary and uneven fashion, despite the existence of fairly well laid-out criteria which regulate its use. In any event, we must ask ourselves – does executing the murderer of a seven year old boy serve society better than executing the murderer and rapist of his own minor daughter? If the public answers in the affirmative, perhaps some soul-searching is in order.

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    • “I do not like the death penalty – all too often, it is handed down in a very arbitrary and uneven fashion”

      Exactly. Asking for death penalty laws can actually be counter-productive if the people who implement them (including the police) turn out to be prejudiced or corrupt. The wrong people would die, if any. Changing the laws cannot entirely address social issues, if the underlying social attitudes remain unchanged.

      “does executing the murderer of a seven year old boy serve society better than executing the murderer and rapist of his own minor daughter”

      Very well said.

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  7. daughters are dispensable is the belief that needs to be shaken.parents have to believe that daughters are not meant to be “given away” as in “kanyadaan” they are not for charity or sacrifice and if our sons have claims on our name,property or whatever else our daughters have an equal right too.
    a friend who is an only child and wished to retain her maiden name never thought that it would be an issue with her liberal boyfriend first and husband later or his family but when they registered their marriage he eliminated her maiden name and filled his own as her last name.she remained quiet trying to avoid a scene in the court( which she regrets even now almost a decade later) and now lives in this agony.

    our name is such an important part of our identities and if we do not teach our daughters to value their identity we are initiating the process of numerous small and big so -called compromises they will be made to confirm to again and again.some of my friends argue oh why such a big deal about the last name I ask why not.would they or their husbands allow their sons to not have the family name as the last name if he so wanted?and girls have no choice….how fair is that?

    its small things like these which make a huge difference in how much worth we place on our daughters and treat them as assets too and not only liabilities to be passed on.

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    • There are communities in India where even the first names of the girls are changed at the time of marriage. It is something that has always struck me as very scary…the new name is based on what is auspicious for the family she is marrying into. It has always made me feel like the person just doesn’t matter….she just has to be the vessel for the boy and his family’s expectations and desires. A total blanking out of your individuality….

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        • Thanks, IHM. :)

          Just read them both. Reminded me of something – the way I felt when the youngest came back home from a state level taekwondo championship with a gold medal and a certificate bearing his name with the legend ‘son of R’. I noticed that later in the evening and laughed and told him that it was the first time he has been identified as my sprog and he, all of five then, said he fought with them and insisted that my name be put there instead of his dad’s because I am the parent raising him. :)

          It made me say that if I had a gold medal to give, he’d get one for honesty, sensitivity and mental acuity. He shrugged and said ‘Right is right’. He got 5 long bedtime stories that night. :)

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      • On my wedding day, after I had got off the stage and was sitting chatting with my husband’s grandma, a couple of female relative came up to us and asked husband’s grandma “iska naam kya rakha? decide kiya ya nahi?”.

        Grandma said “we don’t want to change her name. It’s a lovely name and sounds great with (husband’s name). I didn’t change any of my daughter/ DILs names, so why hers?”. The ladies continued protested ‘jokingly’. All the while, these women never looked at me once, even though I was right next to grandma. They were discussing me in my presence as if I couldn’t understand them or couldn’t possibly have a say in my own name! It was an odd feeling. They only finally turned to me after this conversation had ended to say ‘Congratulations’.

        It’s amazing how many people (including women) just accept these customs as default, without questioning the rationale.

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        • “They were discussing me in my presence as if I couldn’t understand them or couldn’t possibly have a say in my own name! It was an odd feeling. ”

          I hear you.

          Once, my stay in India (how many days I’ll spend at my parents house, and how many days I will spend at my in-laws) was being discussed right in my presence, without my participation. I just got up from my seat and walked out of there. I just didn’t feel like taking that crap. Turned out that my silence had more impact than any of my words ever did, and they got the message. Who knew?

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        • You know, in my family too, there is this stupid custom of changing the DIL’s name. After I got married, my FIL asked me if I had a name in mind to change, I asked him if he has a name for my husband to change? I firmly out my foot down saying that I will live and die with my name that my parents gave me.

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  8. Is there any way to make a formal protest on the judges’ remarks? After all, they’re offensive to half the country’s population. What if the judges had said that the loss of a Hindu child was tremendous for some reason? Wouldn’t that be offensive to other communities and wouldn’t that diminish the value of other children’s lives?

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  9. My mother’s first name was changed when she married my father about 40 years ago and till date I see her as two people one with an original name and and personality in her maternal home and the other she adopted here…
    and then they say NO BIG DEAL !

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