Honor killings: Murders and killings to protect the so-called ‘Samman aur Izzat’
‘Hamare Ghar ki izzat aur samman’, I think these words alone are sufficient to explain the root cause of this horrific crime. Honor killing is when a woman or man is killed by a member of a family because of a marriage or premarital relationship against one’s will, a marriage within the same Gothra, or a marriage outside the caste. Other factors can lead to honor killings, such as loss of former innocence.
A major contributor to this heinous crime is the mindset of those who are not prepared to accept the fact that children can marry of their choosing, of their caste, religion, or outside of that caste or religion. Sometimes it’s not just a matter of caste or religion, but certain cases where families kill people because they don’t want these signs of a loving marriage.
Their so-called “samman aur izzat” decreases when their daughters get married without their permission or blessings. They impose the load in their izzat at the shoulders of their daughter. These peoples are so hypocrites that they don’t forget delight in consuming alcohol and committing domestic violence.
Over the past few months, news channels and newspapers have been flooded with news about honor killings. Either it’s a whimsical thing that appears to have taken over the town, or the event finally emerges as a skeleton out of a closet.
Honor killings are not new in our country and can be traced back to the era of the division of our country, where several women were forcibly killed to protect their honour. Honor crimes violate Articles 14, 15, 19, 21 and 39 of the Constitution of India. The rise in honor killings is that official governance does not extend to rural areas and as a result, this practice continues, and in today’s world, honor killings are not limited to rural areas, but rather are common in metropolitan areas such as Delhi.
A recent incident took place in Delhi, which involved Neha Paswan who was beaten to death over the fact that she wore jeans. The mother of the victim said her daughter kept fast throughout the day. While she appeared for rituals, her daughter wore jeans and a top. Her grandparents objected to this, to which she replied that these clothes are meant to be worn and things turned into violence and she became unconscious after getting hit. She was taken to the hospital by others but the mother was not allowed to follow. Her family members claim that they called drivers to pick her up.
The next morning, the girl was discovered hanging dead from a bridge over the river. The media went crazy about it, but what happened to her? Was she alive? Not all these protests happened after she died and these protests could not save her life. These types of honor killings are needed to be stopped immediately. In this article, we are going to tell you everything you need to know about honor killing.
Honor killings can be defined as:
Honor killings are acts of violence, usually murder, committed by a male member of the family against one or more of the family members who are believed to be defamatory. A woman can be targeted (by an individual in the family) for several reasons, including Refusing to marry a person, becoming a victim of sexual abuse, being divorced from an abusive husband, or (possibly) having adultery. The mere thought that a woman acted in a way that ‘insulted’ her family is enough to trigger an attack on her life.”
Honor killing is a new phenomenon in rural India, particularly in Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan. However, these cases are not limited to rural areas. They are also heard in our capital and southern states like Kerela, Tamil Nadu, etc. The case of Arushi Talwar and the murders of Kuldip and Monica are considered such murders.
Our country has been very selective about the path of development. Internationally, it seems ‘India is shining’ given the nuclear deal, 8% growth, and the perception that India is using it to express itself. But if you dig deeper into the dark secrets of this developing world, you’ll see rampant families killing young couples to defend their honour because of couples who committed incest. Their sin is to live and marry in the same village.
According to “conservative” khap panchayat, marriages between people of the same village are considered incest because they are brothers and sisters, and thus these marriages are void. Thus, panchayat ordered the couple to be killed as an example for the other lost couple, and their bodies were hung on the streets of the village.
In India which follows the patriarchal form of society, women are seen as a vessel of wealth and family honor and any act which might put a dark stain on the famil’s prestige renders an absolute right to the male members to murder the girl, undo her wrongs and win back the honor.
Such crimes as well as such criminals have been bred under the political blessings of the political parties mainly interested in the vote banks of these villages and the support of the khap panchayat.
The decision to commit an honor killing is often reached by multiple family members, sometimes through a formal “family council”. In some cultures, the threat of murder is used as a tool to control behavior, especially that concerning sexuality and marriage, which are seen as duties by some or all family members.
Family members may feel motivated to act in order to protect their family’s reputation within the community and prevent stigma or shunning, especially in tight-knit communities. Crimes are not seen as as detrimentally stigmatized in communities because criminals are considered to be justified in their actions.
Degrees of obtaining reliable data on honor killings are difficult, mostly because the concept of “honor” is either misdefined or defined in some other way. As a result, there are few standards for objectively determining whether a specific case is an honor killing. Because of the lack of clear definitions and consistent standards for honor, it is often assumed that more women than men are victims of honor killings, and it is only women who count the number of victims.
Many parts of the world are affected by honor killings; however, most of the reports come from the Middle East, South Asia, and North Africa.
The practice of honor killings was also common in southern Europe historically, and nowadays, honor killings are often committed in Mediterranean countries like Italy and Greece.
Assassination for honor killing methods include stoning, stabbing, beating, burns, beheading, hanging, decapitation, lethal acid attack, shooting, and asphyxiation. Occasionally, murders are carried out in public to inform other members of the community of the possible consequences of what is considered illegal.
Using Minors as Criminals
Minor girls and boys are often selected as murderers to ensure that the murderer gets the most favourable court decision. Boys and sometimes women in families are often asked to closely monitor the behaviour of their sisters or other women to avoid doing anything that would damage the “honor” and “prestige” of the family. Boys are often asked to commit murder, and refusing to do so can result in serious damage to their families and communities.
The Bone of Contention:
In this respect, the most basic difference between Gotras and Sapindas should be considered. Because the main point of discussion is the difference between these concepts.
Anyone extends from the line of ascension through the mother to the third generation (inclusive), and from the line of ascension through the father to the fifth generation (inclusive). In each case, that line is traced upwards from the party that should be considered the first generation ‘
On the other hand, gothra means:
Gothras are clan assigned to Hindus at birth. The Sanskrit word “Gotra” was originally used by Vedic people to refer to bloodlines. Typically, these lineages refer to the paternal lineage of the sage or Rishi among Brahmins, warriors and managers of Kshatriya, and ancestor-merchants of Vaishya.
It can be seen that marriage between relatives is considered invalid because it is unacceptable in society and falls within the scope of a forbidden relationship. Marrying close relatives is also not recommended as it leads to incestuous depression.
However, in the case of Gothra, one person’s origin goes back to one Rishi, so another person belonging to the same Gothra is regarded as a brother. From a scientific point of view, this makes no sense. Because today it is almost impossible to ascertain whether we have an unbroken pedigree of one of the eight Rishi.
An analysis is necessary from the beginning to find a solution to such a murder. The very root of this attitude towards marriage in the same “Gothra” lies in the fact that incest is considered taboo in our culture. The Hindu Marriage Act of 1954 forbids marriage between the third Sapindian and the fifth paternal line.
In addition, marriages between certain ‘forbidden relationships’, including between sisters, are also prohibited. Thus, the law defines the components of a valid marriage and excludes marriages between close relatives.
So we can see in our culture that people have been aware of their relationship with their brothers and sisters from the very beginning. Even the thought of marrying a close relative is an impure, mean, and unforgivable insult. And this feeling is buried deep in our hearts.
Therefore, when news of marriage between people of the same Gothra is heard, this high consciousness stirs resentment and resentment in the hearts of families and society. Society goes further and boycotts families, which exacerbates the situation to the point where men in the family are not reluctant to kill couples to restore their reputation in society.
Common Cultural Characteristics
The cultural characteristics that lead to honor killings are complex. Honor killings are associated with violence and fear as a means of maintaining control. Honor killings are said to begin with nomads and shepherds. Such people carry all their valuables and are at risk of stealing and do not have adequate appeal to the law. As a result, building a reputation for violent revenge to foster fear, use aggression, and protect property is preferable to other forms of behaviour. In a society where the rule of law is weak, people must build a solid reputation.
In many honor-centric cultures, men are the source or active generator/agent of honor, but the only influence a woman can have on honor is to destroy it. If a family or a family is believed to have been defamed by a woman, immediate revenge is needed to restore her so that the family does not lose face in society. As Amnesty International statement notes:
There is no room for forgiveness in the regime of honor: women suspected of misconduct are not allowed to defend themselves, and family members are without other option but to wipe out the stain on their honor by attacking the woman.
There is a complex relationship between the value placed on female sexuality and honor killings. The way through which women in honor-based societies are considered to bring dishonour to men is often through their sexual behaviour. Historically, violence relating to female sexual expression has been documented since Ancient Rome, when the pater families were entitled to kill their sexually active daughters and adulterous wives. During medieval times in Europe, Jewish law imposed stoning on an adulterous wife and her lover.
Caroline Fluer Lobban, professor of anthropology at the University of Rhode Island, writes that acts or allegations of sexual misconduct by women are a violation of the moral order of a culture and that bloodshed is the only way to remove the shame caused by women . these actions. restore social balance.
However, the relationship between honor and women’s sexuality is complex, and some authors argue that the ‘problem’ lies not in women’s sexuality itself, but women’s self-determination and fertility toward herself. Sharif Kanaana, professor of anthropology at the University of Birzeit, says honor killings are:
A difficult question that runs through the history of Islamic society. In a patriarchal society, it is fertility that men of families, clans, and tribes seek to control. The women of the tribe were considered the factories of male production. Honor killing is not a means of controlling sexual power or behaviour. Behind this is fertility or fertility problems.
In some cultures, honor killings are considered less serious than others, simply because they stem from long cultural traditions and are considered appropriate or just. In addition, a survey conducted by the Asian network BBC found that 1 in 500 South Asian youth surveyed said they would condone the killing of someone who threatened the honor of their family.
Nighat Tawfiq of the Shirkatgah Women’s Resource Center in Lahore, Pakistan, says: Concealment is tolerated. “A Pakistani woman’s right to life depends on adhering to social norms and traditions,” said lawyer and human rights activist Hina Jilani.
Changes in the cultural and economic status of women today are also used to explain honor killings and men in a dominant culture. Some researchers have found that male families regain power with greater responsibility for women and less responsibility for fathers. They claim that it can lead to repressive and sometimes violent behaviour.
These cultural shifts can also be seen in South Asian and Middle Eastern communities and their influence on Western cultures such as Britain. Honor killings are often carried out in the region, against women seeking greater independence and seemingly adopting Western values. Families of Middle Eastern or South Asian origins honor women for refusing to marry because they wear Western clothes, have a boyfriend, or for convenience.
It is a tactic of immigrant families to cope with the alienating effects of urbanization in western cultures such as England. Alam argues that immigrants are staying close because they provide safety to their native culture and relatives. She writes that “at home” in town, men have a greater range of control and a wider support system. In our city full of strangers, you have virtually no control over who your family members sit with, talk with, and work with.
Alam thus argues that attempts to regain control and feelings of alienation ultimately lead to honor killings.
Indian Law Against Honor Killing:
Indian law seems to have finally figured it out after it came to the fore and people voiced their opposition to such atrocities. Finally, after the murder, according to Interior Minister P. Chidambaram, the central government led by the UPA proposed amendments to the Indian Criminal Code and made honor killings a “separate crime”. However, how this will affect the current situation remains to be scrutinized. Because honor killing is murder and punishable by law.
Also, the nature of the crime makes it nearly impossible to track the victim. The reason is that there are usually huge crowds of couples who are stoned and killed. Therefore, it is not possible to find a specific defendant. Khap panchayat’s dominance in the village and his pressure on the police prevent them from acting appropriately and continuing the investigation.
Most cases are not even registered with the police and are handled quietly by the family and the panchayat. The government has also proposed cancelling the 30-day notice period required under the current special marriage law on joint marriage because families abuse this time to hunt, kill, and force couples to separate.
Rule on This Issue:
Discussions about the marriage of Gothra like ended 65 years ago with a landmark decision of the Bombay High Court. In this judgment, the same Gothrian marriage was declared legal. In Madhavrao v. Raghavendrarao, marriages between husband and wife belonging to the same Gothra were recognized as valid. The court also spoke of the prominent author PV Kane, author of the history of Dharmashatra: The contradiction that it is almost impossible to reduce it to order and coherence.”
The court also reviewed the texts of Manu and Yajnavalkya and noted that the requirements for gotra were recommendations and not mandatory. In its ruling, the court said that “Concerning the modern Brahmin families, it is impossible to accept the suggestion that their Gothras and rights are like a continuous line of common ancestry, and that each Gothras and right is named by name.”
The most recent case would be the murders of Manoz and Bobli in Kaithal, where the decision was announced on March 29, 2010. The verdict was delivered by additional circuit judge Wani Gopal Sharma.
On June 15, 2007, five members of the Babli family, her brother Suresh, uncles Rajender and Baru Ram, and cousins Satish and Gurdev, were sentenced to death by hanging. The judge convicted the seventh defendant, Mandip Singh. Scorpio, used in the crime, was sentenced to seven years in prison for kidnapping and conspiracy.
Also, Ganga Raj, leader of the Banawala khap, was sentenced to life in prison for conspiring to kill her husband and wife for marrying against the will of the elders who called them “her brothers and sisters.”
- No legislation will help improve the situation until grassroots people despise and treat such murders and murderers as aggravated crimes. If water does not pass, it seeps through the cracks. This also applies to humans. As long as we don’t believe in this issue within ourselves, we can find loopholes in the law and ways to circumvent it.
- The Khap-panchayats must be disbanded so that their loss of power in the village will somehow help solve the problem.
- People should be aware of the scientific logic behind the concept of Gothra and the inadequacy of 21st-century marriage. The Gothra system could be considered important at an early age because it was intended to prevent marriages between common ancestors and to prevent inbreeding depression. However, in the current state of separation of bloodlines, the Gothra system is meaningless to even consider during the marriage.
- A family should consider even a simple threat to a married couple as a potential threat to their lives and the couple should be protected by the police.
- Punishment for such heinous crimes should prevent people from committing such “male” crimes. In a world where we no longer live in the middle ages, recommending a slow corporeal punishment would only raise the eyebrows of human rights activists. Nonetheless, life imprisonment is the maximum punishment that can be awarded for such barbaric crimes.
In order to solve this problem, myths have to be systematically swept out of people’s minds. They need to be educated with the provisions given in the Hindu Marriage Act and what kinds of marriages are considered invalid. Since the concept of Gotras and Sapindas are different from each other, they should be explained to them.
Khap Panchayats must finally be stripped of all powers to prevent them from misleading innocent people and encouraging them to engage in such inhumane behaviour. It is finally time for India to develop in its true sense. Building a shopping centre and raising the standard of living for ordinary people is not development. Cases like this show that more than half of Indians still depend on the powerful crutches of the caste system, and young people today lack the power to make decisions about their lives. Even today, people blindly commit such barbaric crimes and view the unclean as sanctifying shows that India has not been modernized.
Development must be done right from the basics and core or it is a hollow wooden structure that has been eaten from the inside by termites that eventually collapse.
Edited by Anupama Roy