Himanshi Dhawan Times of India
NEW DELHI: Khap-sanctioned honour killings in north India may have hogged all the headlines but such sordid incidents have been reported from all over the country, a recent study has concluded. While there has been a spate of incidents in western Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Haryana and Punjab, incidents have also been reported from other parts of the country. “We have been receiving complaints from states like Chhattisgarh, Tamil Nadu, Jharkhand and Andhra Pradesh,” said Ravi Kant, president of NGO Shakti Vahini which carried out the study.
Another myth busted was that killing to preserve honour was mainly done by the boy’s family. Preliminary analysis by Shakti Vahini showed that in 90% of the cases, the perpetrators of the crime were from the girl’s family. The study, commissioned by NCW, also found that 72% of the 326 cases surveyed were in fact inter-caste marriages while same gotra marriages were only 3%. Marriages within the caste were 15% while only 1% were inter-religious marriages. At the core of the conflict is a woman’s fight to make her own choices. In a largely patriarchal society, an educated girl’s decision to choose her own life partner is seen by her family as offending their honour, said Ravi Kant. There are also fears in the family that a contentious marriage may lead to the girl staking her claim on property and land holdings that belong to her father instead of forsaking her claim in return for dowry which usually happens in an arranged marriage. Advocate Ravi Kant said while honour killing was not a new practice, the openness with which “the khap panchayat glorified it,” was worrying. NCW chairperson Girija Vyas said there was need for comprehensive legislation to tackle honour killings.