H for Honor Killing

If you thought honor killings happen only in India, you are not right. If you think, only women are victims, then also you are not right. 

Picture Credits

Movie poster of KHAP, a 2011 Hindi film, based on the Manoj-Babli honour killing case and Khap Panchayats in villages of Haryana, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh, which order honour killings. Picture Credits

I was in double minds when I was picking the topic for letter H. While I wanted to go with something positive like Handling Emotions, my heart kept going back to Honor Killings every time I thought of emotions. And then, the thought struck me. Honor Killings happen when some people cannot handle their emotions and just so you know, this is not new. This practice of killing ones own kith and kin has been there for ages and the families who do this, take this as a matter of pride.

Loving and marrying outside of clan, caste or religion is considered bringing dishonor to the family and the outcome is death. In a case as recent as of yesterday, gruesome murder of a couple was reported and the preliminary investigation smells of honor killing. Brothers don’t spare brothers and fathers don’t spare daughters. It gets harder for women for once the “love affair” is exposed none from the clan would come forward to marry and it brings shame so families do not hesitate to take such bizarre steps. Then education is blamed and it is concluded that had the woman not studied in college, she would not have taken such a step. What these so-called justice givers fail to understand is that it is cos of “their” lack of education that they cannot accept the choice of their adult children. In a country where you have the voting rights and driving license at 18, why can’t she choose a partner for her own self?

Sometimes, I wonder what is honor? Isn’t it relative or isn’t it just a subjective notion of one’s beliefs? In cases not as extreme as of killing, I have heard of parents calling up the girl or the boy trying to help understand how love in marriage is of no importance. What matters is that the families are of the same stature and agree. I have witnessed parents feeling ashamed of their daughter’s choice of partner. I have seen parents threatening to commit suicide if children choose to marry outside of community. What is this shame and what is honor?

While researching for this post, I realized that murder is of course a criminal offence under the Indian Penal Code but Honor Killing isn’t. I do agree that perpetrators can be charged with other offences but I think we should have some strict laws around killings of this order. I am no legal expert so I would love to hear for some legal advice. But I feel that people with motives like these need to brought out in the open and charged with the offense. May be this will deter others who want to follow suit.

When a husband abuses his wife, when a son rapes a woman or a child, when someone attacks another human being with acid, or when one kills a girl who wasn’t even born, that’s when I think it brings shames to the family and not marrying someone you love.

Honor Killings could be for other reasons as well like saying no to an arranged marriage, being in a relationship that is not accepted by family, having sex outside marriage, becoming the victim of rape, dressing inappropriately, or engaging in homosexual relations. For the purpose of this post, I have written only about the cases people are killed when they marry someone out of caste, clan or religion. 

I am blogging from A to Z during April (#458 on the list) and the theme I have chosen is set on women. Some of the posts will be here for you to know and some will be to reflect and accept. Share your thoughts and let me know how things are going. There is always a room for improvement. 

39 Responses

  1. Vinitha says:

    As a start we should stop categorising marriages as love marriage and arranged marriage. When love becomes the sole reason for marriage, there won’t be any more need to follow old traditions which when not followed is resulting as a step down to pride and honour today. The other day my mom was saying that my aunt is not talking to her friend anymore because her friend wasn’t pleased when she learned that mine was a love marriage but my aunt told her that instead she told that my husband liked me and send his parents to ask my hand. Though those events happened , it happened only at a later stage of our love. I realized that my relatives stay away from killing but marrying because of love is something to hush! How pity!

    • Gosh! It’s a pity! Those are some shocking realities of the culture and the traditions we are bound too! My marriage with my husband was after we met and asked our parents to intervene. We come from different castes and states that differ in terms of dressing and even found habits. At some point in time, parents on both the sides weren’t too happy but they wanted what we wanted. That approach helped. Today, every one is happy with the choice we made. Sometimes, I feel parents should just let their children free. Once the kids grow up, it’s their life to lead and decide.

  2. Georgia says:

    I found your blog based on comments you made on a friend’s, Brits in the US, and am enjoying your posts. Women seem to be conditioned to judge themselves and it can be a hard habit to break. Once you learn to love yourself for who you are, the love you show to others opens wide to embrace people fro who they are. And you find that embracing diversity enhances your life. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Once again, honour killings are a mark of a patriarchal society. Why is it only the woman’s honour and why is only a woman who dishonours the family??? It gets me so angry! Great post as always Parul. I’m glad you went with this topic for H. 🙂

  4. shanx says:

    A brutal reality, stupidity and stature, whatever that really means, It’s plain ridiculous and people need to understand that 🙁 Sigh! It’s sad that importance of life is so trivial when compared to certain beliefs be it killing or turning one’s own life into living hell!.
    A lil common sense is all is needed! Another powerful post Parul!

  5. kimberlygauthier says:

    I had no idea about the list of “offenses” that could lead to an Honor Killing. It’s really shocking.

  6. Eli says:

    H for heartbreaking and horrible – but still so important. What a tragedy when a girl’s life is less worth than the feeling of honor and pride. Its sad. Hats off to you shedding some light on this…

    • Eli – these young couple when decide to marry against parents wish, they dream to start a new life together away from their conservative people. But then, on the pretext of being forgiven, they are called upon or asked to reveal their location and then killed. To me, that’s murder.

  7. Tarkabarka says:

    One of the hard issues: It probably requires a whole-scale overhaul of mindsets, traditions, and world views…

    @TarkabarkaHolgy from
    Multicolored Diary – Epics from A to Z
    MopDog – 26 Ways to Die in Medieval Hungary

  8. Shilpa Garg says:

    Honour killing is plainly murder and nothing else. It is sad that we dont have strict laws to punish the murderers who are actually family members of the victims!

  9. Vineeta Srivastava says:

    I don’t call such parents as real loving parents . They are selfish , narrow minded cruel . In fact they don’t love and care to their children they only love their cast , religion and so called community . Your issues are really thought provoking . keep it up . God bless u

  10. Ok I really didn’t know that honor killings weren’t a punishable crime in the IPC until now. That is so wrong. The last honor killing I was appalled at was when an Indian defense lawyer made open statements about killing his daughter – if she chose to roam about in the late hours of the night. Also your statement of how some families do not regard love after marriage important made me laugh ! Great post as always. 🙂

    • Have you seen the documentary India’s Daughter? That lawyer was ready to burn his daughter alive if she indulges in premarital sex..It’s a form of announced honor killing..

  11. Tragic reality in many parts of India and one that horrifies me. I don’t buy newspapers primarily because I prefer to start my day on a positive note but news like this pops up everywhere. I just wish stricter laws were in place for these things 🙁

  12. Rajlakshmi says:

    As I read your post, I was reminded of my friends who are fighting to get married, so much pleading and emotional blackmail. Sometimes I don’t even understand how parents can be so cruel to their own flesh and blood.

    • Yes Rajlakshmi, a lot of my friends too lost that battle and are now compromising by being single. Your question is right, how can parents of all people be so cruel.

  13. shwetadave09 says:

    Inflated egos, pride and again made made rule of culture and values, its a shame in India and a very painful truth. Love teaches to live, forgive and for love lives are lost….a very painful and touching topic.

  14. It is amazing such a crime occurs in this day and age. How can they say this is not akin to murder? It is murder! Unbelievable! 🙁

  15. G Angela says:

    It is sad that people place honour and pride above human beings…. agree a stringent law is required to put an end to this concept of killing..

  16. swathishenoy says:

    So many absurdities arise due to the name of this honor which people have really misunderstood! How is it honor killing another life? Aren’t they supposed to feel shame by doing such things? I absolutely loved your concluding paragraph. Yes, that is what brings shame to family and for humanity! Great post Parul.


  17. How could one kill one’s own kith and kin or for that matter how could anyone kill someone else? Is caste, pride, custom important than somebody’s life? I cannot understand how could people be so inhumane. I liked the last lines on what brings shame to family.

    • Try listening to how these men/elders talk. They are very rigid on what brings shame to the family and marrying without consent or loving someone out of caste is a crime in their eyes.

  18. Shalzzz says:

    Gosh, Parul! That pic is haunting! And its a brutal reality though I do not understand the whys and hows. You have brought out the essence of the topic well. Great choice on H!

    • Yes Shalini, it’s not a very pleasing pic but it does convey the message. I wish there were stricter laws. That would atleast deter some! Thank you for stopping by!!

  19. shanayatales says:

    Honor Killing is grave reality. I agree that it needs stronger laws. Like you say, honor is a relative concept and very arbitrarily imposed on families of those who want to uphold their own judgement even at the cost of humanity. Good choice for H, Parul. Keep writing. 🙂

  1. April 15, 2015

    […] examples of failed marriage or abusive partners. I just want you to imagine a free India, the one that doesn’t kill her daughter for marrying some one out of the community or the one who doesn’t judge a woman if she chooses to stay single. And even if she decides […]

  2. April 30, 2015

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  3. June 29, 2016

    […] examples of failed marriage or abusive partners. I just want you to imagine a free India, the one that doesn’t kill her daughter for marrying some one out of the community or the one who doesn’t judge a woman if she chooses to stay single. And even if she decides […]

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