Legislation required to stop honour killings

Even though India is making a name all over the world in the field of economy and science, some age-old practices are still taking the country back to the olden days. One such practice is the killing of people, in particular women, in the name of family honour. The chilling honour killings of two women in Haryana recently were yet another grim reminder of how this pernicious practice continues to go unchecked in a society driven by caste hierarchy. Both the women were killed by their own family members after they disapproved of their inter-caste relationship.

It is a paradox that Haryana, a state renowned for its women sportspersons, particularly wrestlers, continues to be the hub for honour killings and faces ignominy over gender injustice and inequality. Ironically, it was in this state that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had launched the Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao programme in January 2015. This initiative was primarily aimed at improving the child sex ratio and spurring women’s empowerment. A deeply entrenched patriarchal mindset is adversely impacting the lives of Haryana’s girls, especially in rural areas. Ultimately, all honour killings enforce a hierarchy of status and are often used to signal caste supremacy to other communities. Despite the continued prevalence of honour killings in many parts of the country, there is no national legislation that specifically addresses the matter. In 2012, the Law Commission of India had recommended a bill for tackling the issue of honour killings, but the matter was never taken up. In the absence of a specific national law, the crimes related to honour now fall under the general penal provisions outlined in the IPC. Such a patchwork application of laws fails to address the primary, underlying motive for these killings – honour.