For honour's sake
mehnaz nasreen | 14 Sep 2009

the article deals with honour killings prevailing in our society.

MAN AS a social animal has to abide by the so-called laws of a society. And when one tries to go against this code of life, one has to pay for it. Honour killing is one such norms of a society where one has to pay one’s life on violating the rules of the society. In India and some other countries, females in a family are considered the honour of the family. When such women go against the family wishes specially when they marry or eloped with their partners belonging to different caste or community ; the members of the family or the society kill them for the sake of defending their honour.


In India alone, hundreds of women if not thousands are killed in the name of honour. 13 females per day are killed for the sake of honour worldwide, according to a UN report. However, the reports of the killings go off the record and the culprits or the perpetrators leave unpunished. The announcement of the brutal punishment is done by a Khap Panchayat or a Caste Panchayat, a court which protects traditional norms of a particular caste in a village. Even if a household agrees to the will of their children, this panchayat does not go with the decision of the family; instead such families are asked to leave the village.


Ravinder Singh Gehlout’s family is the recent target of Khap Panchayat at Dharana village in Haryana’s Jhajjar district in which the family has been asked to leave the village as Ravinder has married a girl called Shilpa who is of his gotra. Same gotra means sibling like relationship so according to the khap, the marriage in the same category is equivalent to incest. This is one such instance in Haryana where family is being asked to vacate their house. However, in some cases like Ved Pal Maul’s case, on July 22, the man has been murdered brutally by the members of the panchayat at Singhwal, in Jind district when he came to take his wife back whom he had married to against the consent of the girl’s parents. Also, there is no trace of the well-being of the girl. In this case, there was no issue of different caste or same gotra, it was just that they opted for ‘love marriage’.


There are innumerable cases like Ved Pal’s or Ravinder Gehlout’s. If, in 2007, the murder of Manoj and Babli shocked the region, in 2004, a pregnant woman, Sonia, and her husband, Rampal, of Asanda village in Jhajjar grab the attention of the masses when they were almost forced to declare each other brother and sister. Last year, in Bhiwani, two girls were burnt alive just because they went to greet some male friends on Diwali.


Despite of knowing the consequence of such acts, there are some girls in Haryana who get married secretly in courts and never confront to their parents as they know they will be killed the very moment they open their mouth. According to a local girl, she secretly got married to her lover of different caste a year back but she is continuing to stay in her paternal house as she knows her confession about her marriage will only lend her into the worst.


These caste panchayats are illegal in nature but still people dwelling in villages continue to obey their rulings. According to P Chidambaram, Union Home Minister, “Caste panchayats are informal bodies and have no legal status as such. Often, villagers give precedence to the judgement of a caste panchayat rather than that delivered by the courts of law.”


Honour killing is not limited to Haryana only, it is prevalent in western UP and Punjab as well. In the name of tradition, the caste panchayats reward murder of a married couple or declare the man and woman as brother and sister or even sit on an indefinite protest to throw out a family from a village. These acts are done in front of everyone’s eye but nobody is taking that needed extra step to stop such a crime.


As honour killings do not come under the National Crime Bureau, there are no enough records on this dreadful act and that is why the culprits are hovering around the town without any hesitance. It is due to the lack of government’s intervention, this heinous crime is increasing day by day. The top officials in the government knowingly stay away from these issues to satiate their political desires. They know that if they interfere in this matter, they will lose a handsome votebanks from the region. With such malice prevailing in the society, the country can hardly progress and will be unable to compete on international platform.