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Honour Killing: Unmasking a Dark Legacy and Striving for Justice

The root cause of honor killings is indeed deeply embedded in the concept of "hamare ghar ki izzat" (the honor of our home). The phrase reflects the societal expectations and pressures placed on individuals, particularly women, to conform to traditional norms and restrictions regarding marriage, caste, and religion. honor killing, most often, the murder of a woman or girl by male family members.

The killers justify their actions by claiming that the victim has brought dishonour upon the family name or prestige. A death that is awarded to the women or men by their own family members for marrying against their wishes or having a pre-marital relationship, marrying within the same gotra, or marrying outside their caste. Some other factors can also lead to honour killing such as losing virginity before marriage and so on.

The main reason behind honor killings is the unwillingness of some individuals and families to accept their children's freedom to choose their own partners, regardless of caste, religion, or other societal norms. In certain cases, families resort to murdering their own family members because they do not want the label of a "love marriage" attached to their family's reputation.

They place the burden of their family's honor solely on the shoulders of their daughters, disregarding their personal choices and opinions. These individuals may exhibit hypocritical behaviours, taking pride in activities like drinking alcohol while simultaneously committing domestic violence. In some families, daughters are expected to focus solely on their studies, remain confined within the house, and eventually marry a person chosen by their family.

Their desires and choices are often disregarded, and they are discouraged from forming friendships with males. Girls are often told that their freedom and independence can only be attained through marriage. Honour killing is a term used to describe the act of killing a person, usually a woman, who is believed to have brought shame or dishonour upon their family or community. It is important to note that honour killings are illegal and highly condemned in most societies around the world, as they are a violation of human rights and the principles of equality and justice.

While honour killings are rooted in cultural and traditional beliefs, it is essential to emphasize that they are not justified or supported by any ethical or moral standards. The reasons cited for honour killings vary across different cultures and regions, but they often revolve around the perception that a person's behaviour or actions have brought disgrace to their family or community's honour.

Some of the reasons commonly associated with honour killings include:
  • Perceived adultery or extramarital relationships: If a woman is suspected of engaging in a sexual relationship outside of marriage, it can be seen as a betrayal of family values and honor.
  • Marriage or relationship against family wishes: When individuals choose their partners against the wishes of their families, it may be perceived as a challenge to family authority and reputation.
  • Refusal of arranged marriage: If an individual refuses to enter an arranged marriage or marries someone outside their caste, religion, or ethnic group, it can be viewed as a breach of social norms and family honor.
  • Alleged immodest behaviour: Actions or choices that are considered immodest or violate cultural norms, such as dressing in a certain way or interacting with the opposite sex, may be seen as bringing dishonour to the family.
  • Seeking divorce or separation: If a person seeks a divorce or attempts to leave an abusive or unhappy marriage, it can be interpreted as a disruption of family unity and honor.
In the famous Manoj-Babli Honour Killing case, Manoj and Babli were in love and wanted to get married. However, their families and the villagers opposed their relationship because they belonged to the same clan, which was considered incestuous in their village. Manoj and Babli decided to elope and got married in a court. When the news of their marriage reached the village, the leader of the Khap panchayat (a local village council), who was a relative of Babli, ordered their murder. In June 2007, both Manoj and Babli were killed.

In March 2010, a Karnal district court sentenced the five perpetrators to death, marking the first time in India that the death penalty was handed down in an honour killing case. The head of the Khap panchayat, who ordered the killings but did not participate, received a life sentence, and the driver involved in the abduction was sentenced to seven years in prison. In response to the deaths of Manoj and Babli, the Indian government, led by the UPA coalition, planned to propose an amendment to the Indian Penal Code (IPC) to make honour killings a specific offense.

April 10, New Delhi: 20-year-old youth crushed to death for loving a 16-year-old girl
Sagar's rotting body was recovered by police from an isolated place in Sahibabad after it was dumped there by the relatives of a minor girl with whom the victim had been having an affair for the past year. Sagar had been beaten mercilessly by the girl's relative after her brother-in-law spotted them together. They then confined Sagar for some hours and took him to Sahibabad in their car where they crushed him under the wheels of the car while the girl kept pleading for mercy. All the accused have been arrested.

February 13, Mathura: Girl burnt to death by mother and brother
Neeraj Kumari's family was against her relationship with a youth from the same village, Ajay, and fixed her marriage with another person. As complications cropped up for the marriage, the mother, and the brother first strangulated Kumari and then set her body on fire. The accused first tried to dissuade the police by saying that the girl had committed suicide. However, the girl's boyfriend told the police that he suspected the victim was first mercilessly beaten up and then set ablaze

The government has taken initiatives to address bodies like khap panchayats that order killings in cases of love marriages. The Law Commission has drafted a bill called the "Prohibition of Unlawful Assembly 2011," which provides for punishment for such bodies. Additionally, the judiciary has made pronouncements against these extra-constitutional bodies.

However, despite these efforts, cases of honor killings are still reported, with Uttar Pradesh being the state with the highest number of reported cases. Honor killings violate human rights, infringe on the right to live with dignity as guaranteed by Article 21 of the Indian Constitution, and undermine the integrity of institutions such as the police and judiciary.

These crimes restrict the right to choose, causing stress, fear, and trauma among the youth. They hinder national integration, solidarity, and cooperation. Honor killings exhibit a lack of rational thinking and emotional intelligence, and they are not crimes against individuals but against society. They reflect a mindset of considering oneself superior and above the law.

Such acts degrade ethical values in society, such as tolerance, respect for diversity, and self-determination. It is crucial for people, especially parents, to change their mentality and realize that love marriages are not a sin but a personal choice for a happy life. Stricter laws are needed to tackle these killings and punish those who take the law into their own hands and take the lives of innocent young adults. It is high time for khap panchayats themselves to change and adapt to the changing times.

Award Winning Article Is Written By: Ms.Shilpa Angural
Awarded certificate of Excellence
Authentication No: JL356340605680-16-0723

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