Libertatem Magazine

Honour Killing: A Social Evil

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[mks_dropcap style=”letter” size=”52″ bg_color=”#ffffff” txt_color=”#dd3333″]T[/mks_dropcap]he term honour sounds respectable but when it is linked with killing it becomes a heinous crime. Many cases and instances have led us to cogitate over it. Defining it, we can say that honour killing is a customary killing of a person or member of a family or a social group by other fellow member for the sake of saving the pride of their family or community. However, it makes to think that what honour lies in killing one’s own relatives. Just because a family member has done something which the rest of the family members do not appreciate or allow does not give them any right to kill them. Is this the morality or values prevalent in our society that kill anyone who tries to do according to their own wishes, kill someone who wants to lead their life according to their own terms? This rule is especially applicable on the female folk of the family. Women are the real victim of such cases because they are considered as honour or ‘izzat’ of the family. They are to maintain their chastity and not indulge in any violations of the prescribed set of rules. If suspected of committing premarital sex or adultery they are immediately killed to save the so called fake ‘honor’ of the family. Even if the women is not at fault, for instance if she is a rape victim, even then she is the culprit that she was raped. The male members of the family either kill the women or she is married away to the rapist to save the family from any disgrace.

The mere perception of the men folk that women have to behave and conduct themselves in a particular manner and any violation of those prescribed norms is ‘dishonour’ to the family and she is to repent that by her life. Statistics reveal that internationally every year out of 5 cases of honour killing one is from India. The general view about the honour killing is that it happens generally in village and that is not the truth. Even in the big cities like Delhi and Mumbai, these sorts of cases are prevalent. Aggrieved party has no other option except than knocking the door of the court of law for justice.

Looking into a very controversial conviction of Noida based Dentist couple for double murder of a 14 year old school girl, Arushi Talwar and a 50 year old domestic helper. The Talwars, parents of the girl were charged with murder and the main motive has always been attributed as honour killing. One of the very reasons for attributing such motive is that the dentist couple had found their daughter and the helper in an ‘objectionable ‘ position. Although the circumstantial evidence has however left many unconvinced but irrespective of what the truth is, Arushi’s case has been in limelight on honour killing.

This was just a case where couple was convicted but the saga of brutal torture does not end here. In the Northern states Khap panchayats are playing significant role. In the name of custom and tradition they have initiated the battle of killing individuals who has got dishonour for their families.
A similar case is depicted in Harayan where on 24 October 2013; a 15 year old Muslim girl from Mujjafarnagar was locked up by her uncle to prevent her from meeting the boy she was in love with.  It was due to this reason she was killed by her uncle who buried her in Panchkula district in Haryana. These are just few instances but there are many other cases which are still unheard.  Although, the government has formulated laws against this inhuman practice but still it exists.

Another instance in Subalpur village in West Bengal’s Birham district, in which a 20- year old tribal woman was gang raped by a dozen men as punishment for alleged immoral conduct, is shocking. The decision given by the head of the Kangaroo court was questioned before the Supreme Court. In a landmark judgement of Arumugan Sevai case, the court directed the administrative and police officials to take the strong measures to prevent such atrocities and should take strict action against the District Magistrate also.

Constant voice has been raised against Khap Panchayat and Kangaroo courts and these matters have also been taken before court of law for their brutal decisions. It is also another truth that people have lost faith in the police, and that is the reason why these courts are taking advantage in their respective places. However, taking these people before court is not going to curb this problem because court has already declared them as illegal and wants it to be stamped out. The need is not to stop the criminal but to eradicate the crime. There is an urgent need for providing the same platform to the girls who are still considered as curse in some places. Only punishing a few people would not change the way of thinking of these masses. Social attitude of the society is very much needed to be changed, if the country is to ensure gender equality and protection for all women. Women folk are not just play things in the hands of the male section, they have their own life and have every right to make their own decisions and the men have to learn to respect that. A change in attitude is what is needed to protect the women of the society and to ensure their well-being. Every individual has right to live as they want to. No individual has the right to take away the life of innocent fellow humans.

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