There is No Honor in Killing

Article for Blog Post Writing Competition 2011 | by Keshav Gaur and Abhimanyu Singh

April 29th, 20118:15 pm


Indian Constitution allows to everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of the person. Men and women of full age without any limitation due to race, nationality or religion, have the right to marry or to have a family. In India it is irony with Indian cultural that the cultural which known for its customs and traditions in all over the world and in the name of these customs, traditions and honour, people killed their daughters and sons. The malevolence which we are discussing about is honour killing which is prevalent in Indian society from the decades.

Meaning and Definition

An honour killing is a form of violence against women that occurs in the family or community. Honour killing is a human rights violation and a crime, although those responsible for such crimes are typically not held fully accountable by the state. “Honour crimes” are acts of violence committed primarily against women who are considered to have brought shame on their family or community.[1] Generally honour killing is a practice whereby male members kill a female relative who is perceived as having damaged to their family honour. In India where everyone has right to speak and talk with anybody but in Indian villages even though in the cities also, when a girl talk with other unrelated male or she has affair with him than she can be killed by their own father and brothers in the name of their of the family honour because their perceive that it will hampered their honour and they safeguard it by killing their daughters and sisters.  Honour killing can be triggered by a woman or girl consenting to sexual relations outside marriage, being the victim of rape, or refusing to marry a man chosen by the family. Even a suspicion of the woman’s committing any of these transgressions can be sufficient to trigger this action. No further justification is required. Most often the woman is killed by her father, brother or uncle, though other women of the family are usually also complicit in this derogatory action. It is drawback of the India even the government is totally failed to adopt such measures to evacuate this evil from the society.

Misconceptions regarding Honour Killings

The first misconception about honor killing is that this is practice is limited to the rural areas. The second is honour killing often mistakenly believed to be an Islamic practice or a practice condoned by Islam since it often occurs in Muslim-majority societies. In actual fact honour killing is forbidden in Islam and there is no mention of this practice in the Quran or in the Hadiths. There is little evidence of the practice in Muslim-majority countries such as Indonesia or Malaysia.

It is also a false notion that honour killing only involves the killing of women. Men are equally victims of this practice, especially when it affects the reputation of a particular caste and community. More than 1,000 young people in India have been done to death every year owing to ‘Honour Killings’ linked to forced marriages.

Honour Killing in India

It might be time to apply a psychoanalytical approach to honour killings and other social issues of our times, in order to devise ways to engage with pathologies at a community level. In the realm of psyche people the honour killing are prevailing in the society. In recent years the country have witnessed a spate of ’honour’ killings.[2] The women who do not follow the socially acceptable behaviour or preserve their chastity have to bear the brunt in the form of violence, coercion and killings to restore the family ’honour’. It is an open secret that Khap Panchayats are the functional forums of patriarchy in the State and surrounding areas.

Wreck act of Khap Panachayat in India:

The Khap Panchayats are regarded as the age old upholders of caste norms. Khap Panchayats and their atavistic judgments are only one manifestation of the way caste relations continue to despoil the civil society. The Khap was a system of social administration in Haryana, Rajasthan, and Uttar Pradesh since ancient times. For some reasons the political unit of khap was defined as a group of 84 villages. This unit of measure is found as far back as the Saka migrations. The basic rule made by the khap panchayats is that all boys and girls within a khap are considered to be siblings and hence not eligible to marry each other. Love marriages are considered a social taboo in regions governed by khap rules. Many couples have been brutally killed in the past for defying khap rules. These killings are executed in the name of preserving the Hindu traditions and saving the honour of the clan. According to them, marriage within the same gotra amounts to incest which is in contravention to the Hindu traditions.

Cases of honour killing are given below:-

1) Honour killers deserves Death Penalty : SC

In one of the latest judgment the Hon’ble Supreme Court has awarded life sentence to three persons in an honour killing case, but said that the accused deserved capital punishment. [3]

2) Supreme court seeks ‘honour killing’ response :

India’s Supreme Court has said the government must explain what it is doing to prevent “honour killings”. The court order came as it heard a petition which said the authorities had “failed to prevent killings of couples and individuals in the name of honour”. Taking note of the rise in “honour crimes”, the Supreme Court demanded responses from the federal government and state governments of Punjab, Haryana, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Jharkhand, Himachal Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh. The court said it wanted them to explain what steps they had taken to protect young couples who are being threatened by their families and communities.[4]

Latest Cases:

1) Couple killed in Jind by girl’s family

A horrific incident was added to the mindless honour killings in Haryana when a young couple was mercilessly murdered by the family of a girl in Jind town. The victims, Vikas Dhanda, 20, and Ritu Sharma, 18, both IIT aspirants. The only mistake they have done is of choosing a partner which was not of their caste and the result was both were thrashed and then strangulated to death.[5]

2) Girl electrocuted in Punjab

Another case of suspected honour killing in Punjab, parents allegedly killed their 22-year-old daughter by electrocution over an ‘affair’. The father-mother both allegedly electrocuted their daughter and then attempted to burn alive her lover in Begowal in Punjab’s Hoshiarpur District.[6]

3) BBC News – Delhi police make arrests after ‘honour killing’

Umesh Kumar and his wife Satvati Devi were woken in the middle of the night by loud cries coming from the neighboring house. “She was pleading, ‘Kill me, but please don’t hurt him.’ She loved him and they wanted to get married”.  Aisha Saini and Yogesh Kumar, both 19, were beaten with metal rods and then electrocuted. The girl’s family disapproved of the relationship because her boyfriend was from another caste. According to the Hindustan Times, neighbors were asked about the incident but they were told by the family members that it was just their family matters. A police official said that the couple were beaten with “iron rods and other blunt weapons” before being forced to sit on iron trunks to which live wires were attached and they were electrocuted.[7]

Recommendations and Conclusion

1)      Stimulate the police and panchayat to prevent honour killing in rural areas.

2)      Provide support to NGOs who are acting against Honour Killing.

3)      Strengthen Judicial System. All cases of honour killing need to be registered, investigated and brought to justice. Police and other officials found guilty of neglected, concealing, or condoning cases of honour killing should be removed. The State must ensure the proper application of the laws by ensuring that all those involved police, prosecutors, magistrates, judiciary, should be trained to understand the issues behind honour killing, its illegality and its indefensibility on the grounds of “honour” or “passion”.

4)      Harsh law penal laws must be amended against honour killing in India.

Love is a natural human feeling which should not be denied or repressed. It is not unnatural for two people to fall in love; it is unnatural for parents to murder their children for falling in love. It will not hampered their honour but it will be safer for their beloved children whom they wanted their good future. So, stop Honour Killing.

[1] Pakistan: Honour Killings of Girls and Women. AI Index: ASA 33/018/1999

[2] A Zaidi, 2006, ‘India’s Shame’, Frontline website, vol. 23, 4-4, march

[3] ‘Honour Killers deserves death penalty: SC’, The Hindustan Times, 4/8/2010

[4], 21/7/2010

[5] ‘Couple killed in Jind by girl’s family,The Times of India,14/9/2010

[6] ‘Girl electrocuted in Punjab for saving HONOUR’ Hindustan Times, 24/7/2010]



Article by-

Keshav Gaur and Abhimanyu Singh

Students, Rajiv Gandhi National University of Law, Punjab

[Submitted as an entry for the Blog Post Writing Competition, 2011]


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