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Man is born free, but in chains.


An honor killing, also called customary killing, is the murder of a family or clan member
by one or more fellow family members, in which the perpetrators (and potentially the
wider community) believe the victim to have brought dishonor upon the family, clan, or
The perceived dishonor is normally the result of the following behaviors, or the suspicion
of such behaviors:
(a) Utilizing dress codes unacceptable to the family/community
(b) Wanting to terminate or prevent an arranged marriage or desiring to marry by own
(c) engaging in certain sexual acts, including those with the opposite or same sex.
Such killings or attempted killings result from the perception that the defense of honor
justifies killing a person whose behavior dishonors their own clan or family.

Honor killing is more prevalent where a member of a lower class or lower social status
and wealth status marries a person of relatively higher class or high social and wealth
status. In India it is estimated that there are more than thousands of young people in India
have been done to death every year owing to 'Honor Killings' linked to forced marriages
and the country needs to introduce stringent legislation to deal firmly with the heinous

Though Indian culture is considered to be divine but crimes like Honor killing is a
grievous lampoon to it. Honor killing is also one of the indicator that the culture is based
on presumption of that female is the property, slave of the family and this thought is
supported by female family members. Secondly it also indicates that the female in society
are uneducated and does not have there own source of income, thus females are totally
dependent on males of the family.
Honor killing is found largely in the states of Punjab, Rajasthan, Haryana and Bihar They
are also heard of in our capital and in the southern states like Kerala, Tamil Nadu etc. The
Aarushi Talwar Case and the killing of Kuldeep and Monica are speculated to be such
Our country has been very selective about the kind of development she has undergone.
On an international level with the nuclear deal, 8% growth rate and the recognition India
is enjoying to voice its opinion, it seems that India is shining. But dig deeper into the
dark secrets of this developing nation and we still find rampant killings of young couples
by their own family members to save their honor because of the incest committed by the
couple. Their crime: living in the same village and getting married.
According to the conservative khap panchayat, marriage between people of the same
village is considered incest as they are siblings and hence these marriages are not valid.
So the panchayat orders the murder of the couple and hangs their body in the village
crossing as an example to other straying couples.
In India, with its patriarchal society, women are considered as property and the vessel of
familys honor. And any act which might blot the familys prestige renders an absolute
right to the male members to murder the girl, undo her wrongs and win back the honor.
Khap killing are also a type of honor killing in which, whole village kills the female and
her partner for disobeying the order of village chiefs and dishonesting the cultural and
social barriers. Such crimes as well as such criminals have been breeding 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 history of such killings in India has its roots rooted deep since the time of partition of
the country between the years 1947 and 1950 when many women were forcefully killed
so that familys honor could be preserved. The influence of religion and social factors
was so high that there was at least one such killing a day; if not more. Thus it can be seen
that the partition years along with other evils gave rise to another such fatal practice that
haunts our society even today.
However it should be noted that Honor Killings is not seen in India only, it carries its
dark shades even in countries like Bangladesh, Brazil, Ecuador, Egypt, India, Iran, Iraq,
Israel, Italy, Jordan, Morocco, Pakistan, Sweden, Turkey, Uganda and the United


There can be different motives behind such a ghastly act, some of which are:

Marrying outside own caste or inter-caste marriage. This is the main reason for
honor killings in Indian states like Haryana and Punjab. Haryana has reported the
highest cases of honor killings in India and is regularly in the news for such kind of

Marrying within own clan or intra-Gotra marriage. Gotra in Hinduism refers to

descendants of common, often mythical, ancestor and all such descendants are
regarded as siblings. Numerous cases of honour killings in Haryana relate to intraGotra marriages. Remember, people belonging to same gotra are from the same
caste but such marriages are seen as marriages between siblings and hence such
killings in the name of family pride.

Inter-religious marriage. Cases of honor killings have been reported among Asians
from countries like UK where marriages between Hindus and Muslims have led to
animosity between families and one of them killing either own member or the
opposite family's member or both.

Courtship also has led to honour killings. If you thought only marriage has invited
the wrath of family members, think again. Merely falling in love has also resulted in

numerous cases of honour killings in India, Pakistan and other countries.

To control female sexuality. Many countries have witnessed honour killings in the
garb of controlling the female's right of sexual freedom and sex with a person
against the family's consent has led to cold blooded murders.

For asserting independence. Many young women are killed every year among
Hindus and Muslims for not obeying their husbands wishes or their families. For
living a modern and independent existence and for making their own decisions in
their daily lives.


According to this article in the Asian Age, India has reported over 1,000 cases of honor
killings every year. And 900 incidents of such honor killings are reported from three
Indian states alone: Haryana, Punjab, and U.P.
Of course such figures are on the lower side as many cases of honor killings go
unreported as family members involved in such murders report them as natural deaths to
escape punishment. Also, many times the police is hand-in-gloves with the perpetrators
and either do not register the complaints or falsely label such killings as personal
animosity, suicide, natural deaths, accidents but not honor killings, which they really are.


The Indian legislation seems to have finally awoken to this problem after it has come into
the limelight and people are speaking up against such cruelty. Finally, after the killings,
according to the home minister P Chidambaram, the UPA led central government
proposed to amend the Indian Penal Code and make Honor Killing a distinct offence;
although how that will make any difference to the present condition still needs to be
scrutinized as honor killing amounts to murder which is punishable under law.
In addition to this, the nature of the crime makes it virtually impossible to track the
victim. This is because, usually a huge mob is sent after the couple to be pelted by stones
and to be killed. Hence no definite accused can be found. The dominance enjoyed by the
khap panchayat in the village and its pressure on the police unable them to function
properly and carry on the investigation. Most of the cases are not even filed with the

police and are hushed up by the family and the panchayat.

The government has also made proposals to revoke the 30 days notice period presently
required under the Special Marriage Act for inter-community marriages, because that
time is misused by families to track down, kill and forcibly separate couples.



Till the time people at the grass root level are not influenced to despise such
killings and the murderers and to consider it as an aggravated offence, no
legislation can help improve matters. When water doesnt get a path to flow, it
seeps through the cracks. This applies to humans as well. Till the time we dont
believe in the matter from the core of ourselves, we can find lacunas in the law
and a way past it.

Khap Panchayats must be dissolved, so that their loss of power in the villages will
help solve matters to some extent.

People must be educated as to the scientific logic behind the concept of gotra
and its irrelevance to marriage in the 21st century. The system of gotra could be
considered of importance in the early ages as it was meant to prevent marriage
between people with the common lineage and to prevent inbreeding depression.
But in the current scenario, when the lineages have diversified, the system of
gotra is highly futile to be even considered at the time of marriage.

Even a simple threat by a family member to the couple against the marriage
should be considered potential danger to their lives and the couple should be
given police protection.

The punishment for such heinous crimes should be a deterrent for people to
attempt such manly crimes. We do not live in the middle ages, so advising a
slow corporeal punishment would only raise the eyebrows of the human right
activists. But life imprisonment is what can be awarded for such a barbaric crime.

The solution to this problem mainly lies in the eradication of myths in the minds of
people. They need to be educated with the provisions given in the Hindu Marriage Act
and what kinds of marriages are actually considered invalid. Since the concept of Gotras
and Sapindas are different from each other, it should be explained to them.
Khap Panchayats should at last be ripped out of all its power so that it is unable to
wrongly influence the nave people and to instigate them to commit such inhuman acts.
It is time India finally developed in the real sense. Building malls and increasing the
standard of living of the common man is not really development. Cases such as these
show that more than half of the Indians still lead lives within the strong crutches of caste
system and even today youths dont have the power to make decisions regarding their

own lives. To see that even today, people blindly commit such barbaric crimes and
consider it as an act of sanctifying the impure shows that India has really not modernized.
Development has to be from the very base, the core. Or else its just a hollow wooden
structure eaten on the inside by the termites that eventually comes crashing down.