Remarriage not an option

The recent murder of South Auckland liquor store owner Navtej Singh shocked New Zealand. Unfortunately this murder was only the last of a number of similar events. New Zealanders were also concerned about the time taken by ambulance workers to get to Mr Singh.

But I think many of us were also shocked to hear of the full plight of Mr Singh’s widow, Harjinder Kaur. She has now been left with the responsibly of caring for three young children and elderly parents. And, according to her brother, “in our culture, remarriage is not an option.”

Most of us in New Zealand just have no comprehension of the limits some cultures place on the human rights of people – usually the women. In her blog Stargazer, Anjum Rahman discusses (see widow) the problems widows face in India and the activity of Women’s groups on these issues.

The comment made by Harjinder Kaur’s brother highlight a problem we face in today’s world of massive global movement of peoples. Imposition of customs, usually enforced by religion, which are inappropriate for people living in a modern liberal and pluralistic society.

These are the sort of problems which our National Statement on Religious Diversity ignores.

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6 responses to “Remarriage not an option

  1. Pingback: Remarriage not an option | Philosophy Blog

  2. Very interesting issue.
    People, I suppose, place themselves (or participate in) all manner of cultural traditions. (We are participating in the ‘online cultural tradition’ of blogging, for example)

    Am I wrong in (hopefully not simplistically or unsympathetically?) assessing this situation as an Indian person who is struggling with the values of her culture? I don’t want to be unsympathetic to her situation, (the re-marriage issue combined with grieving the loss of a husband is most certainly a hard thing to cope with) but these cultural tensions are more common than we realise; and can come from religious and non-religious sources…

    For example, I am extremely uncomfortable with much of the Western, affluent, individualistic culture of which I’m more familiar with. Where fancy cars, women (and/or sex with lots of them), money, fame and/or status are the most prized things…


  3. I sympathise with your feelings about much of consumerist western culture. But at least it is a pluralistic, liberal and democratic culture. (And of course there is a huge amount which is extremely positive).

    However, I think that our “western, democratic” societies face a problem today because some aspects of imported cultures are not democratic and don’t respect human rights – particularly those relating to women.

    Unfortunately it’s too easy to talk about multiculturalism and stress the advantages such new cultures bring to our society but at the same time neglect or ignore (or even actively deny) the negative, undemocratic aspects. Many women (and also some men) in the “west” are suffering because of this blindness.


  4. Cheers Ken,
    Indeed, it’s not a simple matter.
    Now, I’m not a ‘communist’, but I do wonder that many of our western concerns about ‘human rights’ are problematic (take the impracticality and innumerable problems of ‘free speech’ for example) and derive from an over-emphasis on the individual. Many cultures (ancient and modern) have (wisely in my view – though, of course, not perfectly) valued family and community above the individual. Interestingly, the individual still matters much from a communitarian approach, but not as a ‘singular’ or ‘detached’ individual, but because they are a part of the community, etc. In this sense, I’m 100% for human ‘rights’, but ‘rights’ are not detached from human values… but I digress… πŸ™‚

    I would say that a “pluralistic, liberal and democratic” culture is (to my mind) no better (or worse!) in principle than (for example) a monolithic, conservative monarchy…


  5. Les McFall has an interesting way to deal with the exception clause in Matthew 19:9 that appear to allow for divorce and remarriage for marriage unfaithfulness.
    He has written a 43 page paper that reviews the changes in the Greek made by Erasmus that effect the way Matthew 19:9 has been translated. I reviewed McFall’s paper at Except For Fornication Clause of Matthew 19:9. I would love to hear some feedback on this position.


  6. 5 – No offence, but honestly what good would that do? The Singhs will be Sikh, not Christian. (The surname is indicative.)


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