Honor Killing and Protection of Marriages in India

Almost a decade back, special law proposed by the National Commission for Women (NCW) has already been put in place to deal with honor killings. As per the Supreme Court adults are free to marry a person of choice and therefore it is illegal to hurt or punish such couples by the clan members ‘Khap’ or any group of community members.

Even though, honor killings have taken over 250 lives already since 2015 and the numbers are only going up rather than going down as the reputation of a family is stake. An honor killing, is killing or homicide that is carried out by the family member of the family due to their belief that their family member who has married outside the caste has brought shame and dishonor to the family and also has violated their caste or religion principles. The other reasons for honor killing include being a rape victim, dressing in a way that is cited as inappropriate, having sex outside marriage or being in a relationship against the will of the family.

Honor Killing and Protection or Marriages in India

Most often the victims of honor killing are women and not men.
Even after killing, most often the killers do not face any social stigma from the community because their community approves of it.

Honor killings are most common in northern part of India, more in Rajasthan, Haryana, Punjab and Uttar Pradesh. Even though even South India, Gujarat and Maharashtra do report such incidences and it is prevalent in these regions too.

Here are few reasons that are known to lead to honor killings –
Casteism – Even though we have advanced so much, the caste system is still prevalent in India and there is no denying about that. It is still rigid and a reason behind such heinous crimes.

Governance Issues – Even today there is no formal governance in villages and panchayats and khaps are still rampant.

Mentality – Due to the prevalent caste system in India even today a marriage outside caste is a taboo of some kind and the mentality hasn’t yet changed even after centuries and progress in various fields in the society.

Khap Panchayat – These used to be panchayats like parallel government of sorts created by upper caste and affluent people and communities in order to consolidate position and power. These Khap’s are more or less dominated by males and they possess a lot of illegal authorities like demanding payments from couples, boycotting certain families or people, harass a couple, intimidate or murder them or boycott them.

Well, still the road to success looks like a distant dream because honor killing is prevalent and is not decreased significantly even after the Supreme court passed the special law. Hence, there is more to be done, particularly spreading awareness in the regions most affected about the validity of the Khap Panchayats.