Understanding A Social Evil: Honor Killings

Honor killings can be defined as the killing of a family member by the other family members or by people of the same community in order to savor the pride of their family or community. It is believed that there are certain acts, which when committed bring dishonor to the whole family. People believe that in order to regain their honor the killing of family people becomes mandatory.

More than 1,000 young people in India have been done to death every year owing to ‘Honor Killings’ linked to forced marriages. Honor crimes are acts of violence, usually murder, committed by male family members against female family members, who are held to have brought dishonor upon the family. A woman can be targeted by her family for a variety of reasons, including refusing to enter into an arranged marriage, being the victim of a sexual assault, seeking a divorce—even from an abusive husband—or committing adultery. The mere perception that a woman has behaved in a way that “dishonors” her family is sufficient to trigger an attack on her life. The misconception about honor killing is that this is a practice that is limited to rural areas. The truth is that it is spread over such a large geographical area that we cannot isolate honor killings to rural areas only, though one has to admit that majority of the killings take place in the rural areas.

Sociologists believe that the reason why honor killings continue to take place is because of the continued rigidity of the caste system. Hence the fear of losing their caste status through which they gain many benefits makes them commit this heinous crime. The other reason why honor killings are taking place is that the mentality of people has not changed and they just cannot accept that marriages can take place in the same gotra or outside one’s caste. The root of the cause for the increase in the number of honor killings is because formal governance has not been able to reach the rural areas and as a result. Thus, this practice continues though it should have been removed by now.

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