Honor Killings in India.

Honor killing is an act of murder by the members of the family. This crime usually takes place when two consenting adults marry or want to marry each other but do not belong to the same religion, caste or gotra. Such marriages bring dishonor to the family and hence their family members punish them or sometimes due to the pressure from society.

   Majorly in the Rural regions, villages are very homogenous. No one is supposed to break the laws/norms of society. If anyone dares to- suffers the punishment that is decided by the villagers or the panchayat. Many a time, this punishment is murder. The family also has to face punishment in the form of a social boycott or many times- eviction from the village. In such a situation, the need to removes the family’s dishonor is palpable. Thus, the family members of these consenting adults kill them. According to the official records, the cases of honor killings are not too many but in reality, every year there are more than 10,000 such killings. Normally, if a person goes missing, the family is the one who runs to the police station but in case of killings related to honor, the family members are themselves the perpetrators. Besides, the villagers also do not report this as according to them, this itself is the ‘justice’. On the contrary, such killings are reported by the relatives as ‘suicides’, with family members destroying evidence. Usually, females are more likely to be subjected to suck killings as compared to their male counterparts. According to a report, women constitute 90%+ of the honor killings.   

  The prime factor of the crime is that the majority of caste members do not accept inter-caste marriages on the pretext of maintaining the decorum of their caste or the status of their family in society. The crime of honor killing is increasing at a high pace due to the complex socio-cultural problems. To restore the honor and respect lost due to the inter-caste love marriage

In 2012, the Law Commission submitted a report outlining a unique legal framework for dealing with honor killings. The Prohibition of Interference with the Freedom of Matrimonial Alliances Bill was aimed at curbing activities and behaviors associated with honor crimes by criminalizing, for example, the unlawful assembly of groups of people for the purpose of condemning a marriage, and criminal intimidation of a couple. It also recommended punishments, protection measures for vulnerable couples, and counseling and legal awareness for couples. Sadly, this Bill was not brought up by an MP in Parliament. 

Honor killing happened in the area where the sex ratio is lower and girls are bought for marriages because of a large disparity in the sex ratio, causing the difference in sex ratio to increase. Illiteracy and lack of awareness of rights to freedom and constitutional rights to safeguard their protection from exploitation are the primary reason for the rising of crimes.

Khap Panchayats: 

Khap panchayats are gatherings impersonating courts, presided over by the caste leaders. These leaders are the judges of these illegitimate courts. Just as legitimate judges pass judgments according to the Indian constitution, these panchayat leaders give judgments in accordance with the village and societal norms and rules. Marrying outside the caste or religion is not allowed as per these so-called societal norms and such couples are hence eligible for punishment. The khap leaders hold supremacy within their cast as custodians of honor. Khap panchayats often nullify marriages that are inter-caste and inter-religion and also separate such married couples. In March 2018, the Supreme Court of India declared illegal any attempt by Khap panchayats to end a marriage between consenting adults. But even today, khaps fearlessly continue to nullify marriages and sentence death to eloped couples. 

Categories: Culture and History