Of all the ills which come from undue societal pressures, honour killings are crimes which rank topmost in terms of their ruthlessness and sheer cruelty.
By definition, honour or shame killings are the homicide of a member of a family by other members due to the perpetrators’ belief that the victim has brought shame or dishonour on the family. Or it can even be if he or she is considered to have violated the principles of a community or a religion, usually for reasons such as refusing to have an arranged marriage or renouncing a faith or even being in a relationship which is not acceptable to the family at large.
The Human Rights Watch defines honour killings as acts of vengeance, usually death, committed by male family members against female family members who are believed to have brought dishonour on the family. However, sometimes men can also be the victims of honour killings by members of the family of a woman with whom he is perceived to have an inappropriate relationship.
It is not as though measures have not been taken to stem this rot. For example, in India, the apex court, in May 2011, deemed honour killings in the “rarest of the rare” category of crimes which deserve the death penalty. Soon after, the central government even proposed that Section 300 of the Indian Penal Code be amended to include honour killings in the definition of murder.
Quite recently, the reports of murder of the model, Qandeel Baloch by her brother have shaken the community, and came as a shock and dishonour for the humanity.
Last year, within a span of only a few months, there were five cases of suspected honour killings in our country. On February 13, in Mathura, a girl was burnt to death by her own mother and brother. They were against her relationship with a youth from the same village.
On February 15, in Lucknow, a sixteen-year-old girl was assaulted and murdered. The police have been investigating it as a case fitting the bill of honour killing since the girl’s family did not inform the police about this untoward event.
Then, on April 3, in Chandigarh, the police received a call concerning two unclaimed suitcases lying in a park in Sonipat district. On opening, two bodies were found in them. This too was suspected of an honour killing.
On April 10, in New Delhi, a twenty-year-old was condemned to death for loving a sixteen-year-old girl. On June 1, in Bulandshahr, a mother was arrested for killing her own daughter after she refused to cut off ties with a boy who was unapproved of.
As per reports, there are about five thousand cases of honour killings each year, worldwide. However, there are scores of experts who believe that this figure is far lower than the actual one. For one, a large number of honour killings go unreported as the family members of the victims themselves are involved in them. They are obviously unlikely to give themselves or their kith and kin away.
Whatever be the number, the horrifying nature of such heinousness should not be tolerated. Especially since the victims have actually done no wrong to anyone but chose to live on their own choices.
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