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An estimated 5-minute read

Is it justified? - Killing in the name of Honor?

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Honor Killing

Man is born free, but in chains.

Jean-Jacques Rousseau


The number of love marriages might have gone up in the metros, but the dark reality remains different in villages of many states. To be young and in love has proved to be a nightmare for many young boys and girls, who in the name of “Honor” are being killed that too by their own family members.

Honor Killings or Horror Killings- call them by any name they are just one of other crimes born out of the unholy traditions which survive on the blood of these innocent Romeos and Juliets who dared to marry out of their gotras.


History of Honor Killing in India

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 family’s 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.

Speaking in a seminar on ‘Prevention of honour killings in Sindh’, organised by the Sindh police, Prof Mohammad Wasim Akmal traced the history of honour killings. He blamed the Objectives Resolution (1949) for not letting Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah’s dream of a welfare state come true, arguing wherever there was ‘malookiat’, women were ‘commodified’.


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 Kingdom.[1]

Why Honor Killing?

 Honor killings are part of a community mentality. Large sections of society share traditional conceptions of family honor and approve of “honor” killings to preserve that honor. Even mothers whose daughters have been killed in the name of honor often condone such violent acts. Convicted killers often speak with defiant pride and without regret about their actions.

  "We do not consider this murder," said Wafik Abu Abseh, a 22-year-old Jordanian woodcutter who committed a so-called honor killing, as his mother, brother and sisters nodded in agreement. "It was like cutting off a finger." Abdel Rahim, a convicted killer who was released after two months, also said he had no regrets. "Honor is more precious than my own flesh and blood”(New York Times).

     ·         Being victims of rape

·         Refusing to marry someone chosen by their family

·         Engaging in premarital sex

·         Having an affair

·         Demanding a divorce, even in an abusive relationship

·         Talking or flirting with an unrelated male

·         Not following a strict dress code

 It is important to note that even the suspicion of a transgression is reason enough to justify a killing.

 Honor Killing – Some Key Facts


·         The United Nations Population Fund estimates that 5,000 women are victims of honour killings every year.[2]


·         Most honour killings of women occur in Muslim countries, although such murders are not sanctioned in Islamic religion or law.


·         Honour killings are likely most pervasive in Pakistan, where they are known as karo-kari. Women are treated as property whilst honour is so deeply entrenched in society, that the government often turns a blind eye to these honour killings.[3] Instead, the murders are reported as suicides or accidents.


·         In a study of female murders in Alexandria, Egypt, 47% of the women were killed after the woman had been raped.[4]


·         In Jordan and Lebanon, 70-75% of the perpetrators of these honour killings were the women’s brothers.[5]


·         In some countries, men who carry out honour killings escape with lesser penalties. In Jordan, honour killings are sanctioned by the law. [3]


·         Teenage brothers are often selected to be the executioner as their sentences are generally lighter than those handed down to adults.


 Ironically, any Law, no matter how severe it is, will be unable to check these crimes. The reason is –MINDSET that is cemented over, by the divided society of ours. Changing the mindset of the population today is the toughest thing in the world.

 A law might ban the Khap Panchyats or at the most make Honor Killing a non bailable offence punishable with death penalty; but Honor Killing will continue to prevail till we convince people, be it the illiterate village folk or high educated city dwellers, that what they are doing is a sin and an immoral act.


 Ankara, Turkey -Ignoring the pleas of his 14-year old daughter to spare her life, Mehmet Halitogullari pulled on a wire wrapped around her neck and strangled her - supposedly to restore the family's honor after she was kidnapped and raped…“I decided to kill her because our honor was dirtied,” the newspaper Sabah quoted the father as saying. “I didn't listen to her pleas, I wrapped the wire around her neck and pulled at it until she died” (The Associated Press).



[5] UNIFEM. 2002. Regional Scan, Arab Region. Cited in “Culture of Discrimination: A Fact Sheet on ‘Honour’ Killings.” Amnesty International USA.


Just a word on a lighter note:-  I have just joined law school, and this is my first research work on any of such topic. 

Do spare me if I have gone wrong any where and yes, Please recommend on how  can this be improved. :)




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