States turn blind eye to honour killing

Led by Haryana Chief Minister BS Hooda, the five northern states facing the menace of honour killings, seem to be using the lack of official data to undermine the seriousness of the problem. At a Group of Ministers (GoM) meeting recently, Hooda, however, has absolved the khaps of any wrongdoing.

“They have no role in honour killings,” he said.

Apart from Harayana, two independent studies have held the caste panchayats (khaps) responsible for the trend of honour killings in states such as Delhi, Rajasthan, Punjab and Uttar Pradesh. These states have witnessed a spurt in such killings in recent months.

However, the chief ministers of other four states did not attend the GoM meeting and as a response, the state governments said the problem was not serious in their states.

The ground situation, however, tells a different story. According to a study commissioned by the National Commission for Women, the findings show “honour killings are a north Indian phenomenon.”

Out of 560 cases profiled in these states by an NGO Shakti Vahini, in 89 percent cases, the couples, who have married against the wishes of their families had been threatened. “Honour killings have been reported most from those areas where the khap panchayats are active, and in these 560 cases, 121 persons had lost their lives,” says the study.

It contradicts the khaps’ arguement they only oppose marriages within the same sub-caste (gotra). “Honour killings are less about gotra issue and more about inter-caste marriages and the reaction to inter-caste marriages are much stronger and violent when the girl marries a dalit or a lower caste than hers,” it noted.

A research paper presented at an international conference on child abduction, relocation and forced marriages at London in June, Chandigarh based legal experts Anil and Ranjit Malhotra said :“Forced marriages and honour killings are often interwined. Marriages can be forced to save honour and women can be murdered for rejecting a forced marriage.”

According to the UN Population Fund, 5,000 women are murdered for ‘honour’ every year around the world . Though there are no official figures for India, a paper presented at a talk organised by the London Metropolitan University in June, put the number of honour killings as 1,000 every year.


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