In the recent times, there has been a string of honour killings in the country and this has forced the government to think about what laws should be put in place to stop this heinous crime. What is going wrong? This is a burning issue at present. Also whether the Hindu Marriage Act should be reformed or not is being debated. The latest case of honour killing was reported from New Friends Colony, where a couple was murdered by the girl’s girl, Vimla, and a guard named Robin, after they found 28 yr old Hari from Jalandhar and Vimla in a compromising position in an under-construction building. 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 malpractice prevalent in India only or the condition is equally atrocious in other parts of the world also? What are the misconceptions surrounding the honour killing scandals? These are the questions that this article seeks to find an answer to.
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. 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. India’s social system is based on a caste hierarchy but over the years people living in the cities have come out of the rigid caste framework. There has been an increase in the number of inter-caste marriages between couples in the cities. In fact the government helps those above the age of eighteen in such matters
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. In many villages, the leader of the self-appointed court has so much power that the police are kept away from village politics. On many occasions parents kill and dump the bodies of their children in the name of honour and the police are not even informed. This is why there are so many unrecorded deaths. In an interview with a newspaper, a villager from one such village mentioned that they are happy to solve their own problems by not involving the police or government in it.
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. During the partition, there were a lot of forced marriages which were causing women from India to marry men from Pakistan and vice-versa. And then there was a search to hunt down these women who were forced to marry a person from another country and another religion and when they returned ‘home’ they were killed so that the family honor could be preserved and they were not declared social outcastes from their region.