Culture · Law · Public Policy · Society

Honour Killing in India

Honour Killing: the term suggests a killing for honour, but does any honour actually exist in such a killing? To find an answer, let us first understand the concept of honour killing.

The term ‘honour killing’ was introduced by a Dutch Turkey expert in 1978 to separate such killings from other kinds of killings in the families and communities. It is also referred to as “Customary killing”. Though the term has been coined quite recently but the concept of honour killing is very ancient and it has been prevailing in our society from very long in one way or the other. It 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. Honour killings are directed mostly against women and girls. The perceived dishonour is normally the result of one of the following behaviours, or the suspicion of such behaviour:

  • Dressing in a manner unacceptable to the family or community,
  • Wanting to terminate or prevent an arranged marriage or desiring to marry by own choice,
  • Engaging in heterosexual sexual acts outside marriage, or even due to a non-sexual relationship perceived as inappropriate, and
  • Engaging in homosexual acts.

It is paradoxical how the parents always want their children to lead a happy life and yet when it comes to these matters, they are ready to even take their lives. Only one question comes to the mind of all people- Is the society more important to them than their own children? Are they ready to become criminals only so as to live up to the supposed societal norms? The same society must fear them more than they fear the terrorists, for terrorists kill people who are unknown to them, but these people are so heartless that they can kill the children whom they have themselves nurtured.

There are many misconceptions regarding the practice of honour killing. The first one being 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 honour killings to rural areas only. The second misconception regarding honour killing is that it has religious roots. However, there is no religion which has expressly accepted the committing of this heinous crime.

Now the most important issue here is how we can stop this evil thing to happen. There are basically two ways by which we can change people and their behaviour. These are internal control and external control. Through internal control, we can make people understand the value of life, the value of freedom to every individual and most of all that family honour has nothing to do with such issues. They must be made to understand that it is their act of killing their own children that in reality brings dishonour to the family. We can also take help of external control by creating fear in people’s mind. For this, we need strict rules and regulations. The Indian Penal Code when drafted in 1860 contained such provisions that offenders and guilty people of honour killing were dealt with leniency and latitude. There is a need to make strict provisions in the legislature to give adequate protection to the victims of this crime.

It must be remembered that humans do not have the right to write down death sentences of innocent fellow humans. Thus, society must stand up to fight this evil. A murder is a murder and whatever justification one might give and in this context, there is nothing honourable.

About the Author

Aasita GuptaAasita Gupta is final year student at Campus Law Center, University of Delhi and hails from the city of The Ganga, Haridwar. She loves to read, travel and try out new dishes. She is also pursuing the Company Secretary course alongside her main course and in the long run, she aims to serve our nation through the outstanding pillar of judiciary.

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