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Honour Killing

It is a practice where an individual is killed by the family members or any other relative as a reason for getting them married in another caste or religion. It is a practice in Indian society. It is not backed by law. Honour is the most cherished value in the Indian sub-continental patriarchal families irrespective of caste, regional and religious identities. Families gain and lose honour through money, power and improper behaviour of women. The family still constitutes a very potent force in the social structure. Emphasis on family honour is basic to the Indian social framework.

A person’s honour depends on the behaviour of others and that behaviour must be controlled. It means that other people’s behaviour becomes a key component of one’s own self-esteem and community regard. In patriarchal society, the honour of the family lies in the purity of women. All decisions dealing with the women of the house are taken by the male members of the family and caste. This honour is shared by the whole caste, clan and community as the ties of the family.

A man’s respect in the society depends upon the women’s purity and respect. So it is expected that a woman will behave modestly so to save her husband’s and in-law’s honour. Once the family honour is damaged, then it becomes the responsibilities of the male members to restore it. For that, if blood is needed to be shed then that is also accepted. The fear of losing the honour of the family leads to violence and justify masculine aggression on the women. This often leads to supporting of caste divisions. Even if the family wishes to accept the inter-caste marriage concept, it is not allowed by the society. If the family supports the marriage, the community takes the effort to force them to boycott their daughter as she has gone against their preferred norms of marrying within the caste as a collective interest of the caste group.

The concept of honour works at the cost of human emotions, sentiments and values. It is prevalent in Indian society. What may be the reasons that someone can kill their own child for the sake of reputation and honor of dreams? There is still class discrimination in India. Roots of Honour Killing lie in the Caste System. It is considered a sin to marry in another caste or religion in the Indian Society. This is the outcome of our rigid Caste System. Families consider it to have brought shame to their family name. Love marriage is a term which is primarily used in South Asia, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. It is a marriage which is decided upon the two individual with or without the consent of the parents or families. These marriages are generally against Caste, Community and religious barriers. These marriages are considered as socially unacceptable in the mindset of the people residing in most parts of our country. In the eyes of the society, it is not considered as marriage at all. If a male marries by his choice, he is considered to be weak in character.

The mindset of the people residing in most parts of the country is that the girl should belong to the same community, economic background and caste so as to avoid any sort of conflict within the family. It was a presumed notion that a self-chosen bride will not be able to adjust to the way of living of the groom’s family. It may bring shame and a matter of dishonour upon the groom’s family. If the bride chose her own groom, the person may not belong to a higher caste and that is again a matter of dishonour for the family which in many situations may lead to honour killing in order to save the prestige, honour and name in the society.

Films portraying Honour Killing

Films actually portray the reality of the world. The film industry skillfully choreographed dances, moving songs, aesthetically pleasing or lavish sets and costumes and the plots that are mostly taken from the conceptions of the people about the things happening around the world and characters have invited the attention of newer and wider audiences. Films are believed to be the opium of the Indian masses as people rely on this medium to help them escape to a world of fantasy. In a very explicit way, cinema has shaped the cultural, social and political values of the people of this country. Film industry has been able to transcend borders and look at issues more holistically. These developments are bound to affect the manner in which a person has the conceptions of the acceptance of self-chose bride or groom.

Film NH10

A classic example of love marriage leading to honour killing is ‘NH10.’ It is based on a road trip of national highway connecting Delhi with Punjab. This film is an acute example of love marriage where the main problem that is shown is that the boy belonged from a lower caste and was poor as compared to the girl as the girl belonged from a family where her mother was the penchant of the village. It is considered that the girls are a property for the family. They are married off to the family with whom they can gain in some of the other ways. In this film it is shown that a girl falls in love with a boy of low caste. He is not wealthy. The family does not accept their love. They get furious at the fact that how can a girl have such audacity to love a boy and their run away with him. This led to brutally killing of the boy and the girl “pinky”.

Rishtey

The girl, Komal is the daughter of a wealthy father. She is in love with Suraj. She is a middle-class youth. Their relation is not accepted by the family because of the differences in the society. The father applies all the ways to separate them. Thereafter, an idea can be drawn about the reactions of the family towards a love marriage. Financial difference is a major reason that leads to honour killing besides caste differences. The family members think that their daughter or son has brought shame and dishonour to the family and harm to the reputation. To save their respect and honour in the society they either disown their children or kill them and adding to that they take pride in doing that.

Goliyon Ki Raasleela Ramleela

It is an Indian Romantic Tragedy film set up in Gujarati village of Ranjhar dealing with the two rival castes, Rajadi and Sanera which is infamous for its uninhibited manufacture and sale of arms and ammunition. They are in rival terms with each other for past several years. Ram and Leela fall in love with each other. Their family is on the verge of killing each other. It is a typical example of the caste differences in love marriage. It is at the end when it is seen that the mother of Leela, Dhankor, is happily ready to accept their love but it is too late as they both kill each other so that they can die together if not live together.

Bombay

It is an Indian drama film. It shows the differences in religion between Shekhar, a son of orthodox Hindu and Shaila, a daughter of a Muslim. They both fall in love with each other. Their love is not accepted by their family because of the differences in religion they belong from. This also leads to fighting among the two families because of their relation. But they run away.

Films show the reality

All these movies show that films have just shown the reality of the world. These show the harsh realities of life. The problem that usually crops up in love marriage is the acceptance of the family. The family members are more concerned with the reputation and honour of the family. The family honour lies with the females of the house. If it is broken, the only way to resolve it is by dishonouring that member of the family and that happens by killing. The family members take pride in doing so because according to them they are reestablishing the honour in the eyes of the society. This happens because either the boy or the girl belongs from different caste or lower in caste than each other or even if they belong from the same gotra, they are considered to be brothers and sisters and such marriages are prohibited according to them. It leads to honour killing as seen in the case of Dharmender Barak and Nidhi Barak honour killing case. The caste-based difference is one of the major problems which is stealing the limelight of honour crimes.

Problems

  1. For everyone, the reputation, respect and honour in the eyes of the society matter because it is they who create the social norms of what is right and wrong. In some cases, the family supports such relation. It is the society who takes it as a crime. This is evident from the recent case of N. Ashitha and Shakeel Ahmad case. This case deals with inter-religious marriage in Mandya district of Karnataka. It took place in April of 2016. The families of both, the boy and the girl did not have any problem with their relations as the two families’ shared close relations with each other. The day of their marriage, the society people, especially, BJP, Bajrang Dal and Vishwa Hindu Parishad, activists launched statewide campaigns against them, including a Bandh in Mandya. Their notion was that this inter-religious marriage could lead to love Jihad. The Muslims marry Hindu women so as to convert them into Muslims.
  2. The problem emerging in a love marriage is the differences in the financial status of between the girl and the boy. The differences in financial status give power in the hands of the rich. They think their status does not match with those who are financially not stable. They consider it as a matter of dishonour and disrespect to marry their daughter or son to that of a person who is not at par with their status. In order to uphold the respect and status in the society they disown their child leading to honour killing.
  3. Orthodox and conservative morals, social pressure, lack of education, backward thinking etc are number of reasons for this. Major reason is the problem of Societal Pressure.

Summary

Thus, only to save the respect and honour in the society, the family can even kill their child. The main problems that crop up for Honor killing are the caste-based differences. There are honour killing cases in India. There are the developments of technology and inventions of new concepts. The rigid beliefs that earlier held a great value and dominated the society are changing. But some places are still rigid about their beliefs. One such belief is about marriage. In most parts, the honour of the family is connected with the daughter. It is regarding their purity of the blood. If they break the norms prevailing in the society, they are considered to have brought shame and dishonour to the family. The self-chose pairs are not allowed in many places. They are considered to have brought dishonour to the family. Of course in the last decade trends have changed. Love marriage is accepted by some people of the society. The orthodox and conservative Indian families still don’t believe in Inter caste or Inter religion marriage. It results in Honour Killing. In India we are talking about Fundamental Rights and equality. But an individual is not even allowed to marry by his own choice. This is a result of a clash of society with current law. There is no specific law dealing with Honour killing. Any act committed will be covered under the provisions of Indian Penal Code. Some of these marriages are not regulated by the personal laws of the community. Those marriages are regulated by the Special Marriage Act, 1954. Until and unless we change our thinking and the change in the mind of people of the society, this problem can not be solved.

About the Author

© C.R Nanda Academy is an initiative by Adv. Chittaranjan Nanda to spread legal awareness among Indian Citizens.


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