An honor killing or honour killing (also called a customary killing) is the murder of a member of a family or social group by other members, due to the belief of the perpetrators (and potentially the wider community) that the victim has brought dishonour upon the family or community. Honour killings are directed mostly against women and girls. The perceived dishonor is normally the result of one of the following behaviors, or the suspicion of such behaviors: a. dressing in a manner unacceptable to the family or community, b. wanting to terminate or prevent an arranged marriage or desiring to marry by own choice, c. engaging in heterosexual sexual acts outside marriage, or even due to a non-sexual relationship perceived as inappropriate, and d. engaging in homosexual acts. Women and girls are killed at a much higher rate than men.
Recently, there has been a spate of honor killings in the country and this has led the government to decide what laws should be put in place to stop this heinous crime. Also whether the Hindu Marriage Act should be reformed or not is being debated. So what is the definition of honour killing and what leads families to commit this heinous crime so that they can protect their family honour? Is this practice prevalent only in India or is it prevalent in other parts of the world also? What are the misconceptions regarding honour killing and what are the solutions to stop this crime from spreading? These are the questions that society find the answer… In my opinion Honour killing is defined as a death that is awarded to a woman of the family for marrying against the parent’s wishes, having extramarital and premarital relationships, marrying within the same gotra or outside one’s caste or marrying a cousin from a different caste.
Honour killing is different from the dowry deaths that are also a very common practice in India as, in the case of dowry deaths, the perpetrators of that action claim that they have not been given enough material rewards for accepting the woman into the family. In that case there is a lot of harassment from the in-laws and more times than one, it has been noted that the wife commits suicide rather than being killed by the in-laws, though it has to be said that she has been mentally killed, if not physically. We have had a tradition of honour killing. This tradition was first viewed in its most horrible form during the Partition of the country in between the years 1947 and 1950 when many women were forcefully killed so that family honour could be preserved. Now, there are various reasons why people or family members decide to kill the daughter in the name of preserving their family honour.
The most obvious reason for this practice to continue in India, albeit, at a much faster and almost daily basis, is because of the fact that the caste system continues to be at its rigid best and also because people from the rural areas refuse to change their attitude to marriage. According to them, if any daughter dares to disobey her parents on the issue of marriage and decides to marry a man of her wishes but from another gotra or outside her caste, it would bring disrepute to the family honour and hence they decide to give the ultimate sentence, that is death, to the daughter. Now as has become the norm, the son-in-law is killed as well. Sociologists believe that the reason why honour killings continue to take place is because of the continued rigidity of the caste system. Hence the fear of losing their caste status through which they gain many benefits makes them commit this heinous crime.
The other reason why honour killings are taking place is because the mentality of people has not changed and they just cannot accept that marriages can take place in the same gotra or outside one’s caste. The root of the cause for the increase in the number of honour killings is because the formal governance has not been able to reach the rural areas and as a result. Thus, this practices continues though it should have been removed by now. There are various misconceptions regarding the practice of honor killing. The first misconception about honor killing is that this is a practice that is limited to the rural areas. The truth is that it is spread over such a large geographical area that we cannot isolate honor killings to rural areas only, though one has to admit that majority of the killings take place in the rural areas. But it has also been seen recently that even the metropolitan cities like Delhi and Tamil Nadu are not safe from this crime because 5 honor killings were reported from Delhi and in Tamil Nadu; a daughter and son in law were killed due to marriage into the same gotra.
So it can be seen clearly that honor killing is not isolated to rural areas but also to urban areas and as already pointed out, it has a very wide geographical spread. The second misconception regarding honor killing is that it has religious roots. Even if a woman commits adultery, there have to be four male witnesses with good behavior and reputation to validate the charge. Furthermore only the State can carry out judicial punishments, but never an individual vigilante. So, we can clearly see that there is no religious backing or religious roots for this heinous crime. What can we do to prevent such a thing from happening?
Firstly, the mentality of the people has to change. And when we say that the mentality has to change, we mean to say that parents should accept their children’s wishes regarding marriage as it is they who have to lead a life with their life partners and if they are not satisfied with their life partner then they will lead a horrible married life which might even end in suicide. Secondly, we need to have stricter laws to tackle these kinds of killings as this is a crime which cannot be pardoned because. Humans do not have the right to write down death sentences of innocent fellow humans.
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Honour killing can be defined as the homicide of the member of a family or social group by other members due to the belief of the perpetrators that the victim has brought dishonour upon the family or community. In most of the cases, honour killings are mostly directed against the women especially in the South Asian and Middle Eastern Islamic cultures. Sadly, this culture is prevalent in some parts of the Indian society too. Mainly the method of honor killing is adopted when a girl goes against the wishes of her family and marries a guy who does not belong to her own community. In some of these cases, both the boy and the girl are killed either secretly by the family members and even openly claiming that the respective boy or girl have bought dishonour and disrespect to the family and to the society or community as a whole. Each and every individual has the right to live his or her own life according to their own wishes.
After attaining the age of 18 and 21 by the girl and the boy respectively, the family has no right to force them into marriage or any other act if they are unwilling to do so. If an individual be it a boy or a girl feels that he or she wants to marry according to their wishes, their parents should accept the wishes. In fact, parents only desire to see their children happy and if the children are happy, the parents should let them do what they desire. But for a number of families, their status and position in the society is so much more important than their kids that they do not mind killing them or sacrificing them just to maintain their desired status. Only one question comes into the mind of all the people- Is the society more important than your children? When asked all will say that their children are more important.
But in some of the cases the reality is totally different. These people who kill their children for the breach of so called code of conduct of their societies are actually only concerned about their status and position in the society. Such people can be termed as criminals who are far more dangerous than the terrorists. Terrorists kill people who are unknown to them. But these people who support honour killing and are a part of it are heartless because only a heartless individual can kill someone they love and that too for a baseless reason. The government of India has formulated laws against honour killing but still this inhuman practice exists. In my opinion people involved in honour killing should also be treated as criminals and should be punished as severely as possible. Even capital punishment should be offered to these individuals so that they realize that how painful death was to the person they killed.
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Alarmed by the rise of honour killings,Government is planning to bring a bill in the Monsoon Session of Parliament next month to provide for deterrent punishment for ‘honour’ killings.
“We have already finalised a draft and the bill should come in the next session,” Law Minister M Veerappa Moily told . He said that the bill envisages amendments to several related acts, including the Evidence Act and the onus would be on the accused to prove their innocence.
His comments came a day after the Supreme Court on Monday issued notice to centre and states government to file reports on the murders of young couples and asked them how they can stop such killings and what the government and the states have done in this regard. Supreme court on Honour killing
The Supreme Court issued notices to the Centre and nine States on a PIL seeking directions to the Union government to make law to protect young couples from Honour killings.
A vacation bench comprising Justices R M Lodha and A K Patnaik issued notices on a petition filed by an NGO Shaktivahini alleging that young couples who dare to defy their families or Khap Panchayat in the matter of marriage are under constant threat from them. It noted the sudden rise in the incidents of honour killing at the instance of Khap Panchayats.
Among the states which have been directed to respond to the PIL are Haryana, Punjab, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh.
The apex court had earlier refused to entertain a petition seeking directions to the government to amend Hindu Marriage Act to declare same gotra marriage as illegal.
Kiran Bedi on honour killing
Veteran police administrator Kiran Bedi said there can be no excuse to sanction murder, whatever the cause, and active policing and serious penal sanctions is the only way to check this dishonourable practice. Besides, any law against honour killing will be effective only when there is a will on the part of the society itself. The suspected honour killing of married couple Kuldeep Singh (26) and Monica (24) – allegedly by Monica’s brother Ankit Nagar and his friend Mandeep Nagar – took a bloody turn early when the body of another woman, Shobha, was found in a car near the couple’s rented house in Ashok Vihar close to the local police station. Shobha was Mandeep’s sister.Whereas Shobha’s uncle supports the killing by saying “This killing will teach a lesson to the society.”
Honour killing in India
The latest victims of what caste councils (khap panchayats) call a justified act to protect family’s ‘maryada’ (honour). This councils are found in northern India, particularly in Haryana, Punjab, western Uttar Pradesh and Delhi, Rajasthan.
Every month one honour killing takes place in Punjab. As per data complied for the first time by the Crime wing of the Punjab Police, during the past two-and-a-half years — from 2008 till date — 34 honour killings have taken place in the state: 10 in 2008, 20 in 2009, four so far in 2010. Of the total 34 cases, 16 were reported from Tarn Taran district. Perhaps one of the most backward areas in Punjab in terms of literacy, Tarn Taran has witnessed the highest number of honour killings in the state. Last month, a newly wed couple was attacked, the girl was killed and the boy grievously injured. The parents of the girl were the main suspects in the case.