Honour Killings in India

by Sharell शारेल on June 16, 2010

in Daily Life in India

This morning, I read the newspaper with a very heavy heart. In it, was a report about another honour killing in northern India.

For those who aren’t aware, an honour killing is carried out when family members murder another family member who has brought disgrace and shame on the family. Usually, in India, it takes place over an “inappropriate” relationship or marriage outside caste or religion.

Research indicates that the majority of honour killings happen in the north Indian states of Punjab, Rajasthan, Haryana, and Bihar. Honor killings are rare to non-existent in south India, and also the western Indian states of Maharashtra and Gujarat. There have been no honor killings in West Bengal in over 100 years, thanks to the influence and activism of reformists like Vivekananda, Ramakrishna, Vidyasagar and Raja Ram Mohan Roy.

The issue of honour killings really indicates the extremities of life in India — not just from rich to poor, but from cities to villages. While India’s cities are progressing at a rapid rate, and love marriages are becoming more and more prevalent, many villages are not. There, the caste system remains as strong as ever, and the reputation of the caste is of utmost importance — sometimes more important than a human life.

What is also so horrible, apart from the killing itself, is how it’s carried out. The person can be burned alive, tortured, maimed, and/or beaten to death. I feel dizzy and sick just thinking about it. Such extreme action, just to follow the norms of society! A large part of this problem in villages is due to the strong presence of a panchayat or informal court, which consists of members of the same caste and decides all matters relating to their community.

However, India’s most recent honour killing took place in Delhi — not a village. The parents who murdered their 19 year old daughter and her 19 year old fiance said that they had been left no alternative. Their daughter’s deed frustrated them, and they didn’t regret killing the couple. Apparently, the girl’s fiance was a cab driver and belonged to a different caste.

Neighbours were shocked. “God knows what came over them… They were such good people”, one commented.

The fact is, you can move to the city but you still can’t escape the scrutiny and judgements of other villagers.

My in-laws have experienced two love marriages now — two out of their five children had them. Although my in-laws left their village in Orissa over 40 years ago, disapproval from people back in the village was still prevalent. Apparently, my father-in-law in particular, had to endure a lot of criticism and loss of respect in the village for allowing my brother-in-law’s marriage to go ahead. The villagers expected him to prevent it. When he didn’t, he lost face and status. It took a while for my in-laws to accept their new daughter-in-law but after a year or so, they did. They realised that their childrens’ happiness was worth more than that of the people in the village, where they never intended to live again. Then, I came along. And I’m just very grateful that thanks to their progressive mindset, they’ve accepted me too.

I’m even more grateful when I think of the disturbing fate of those children who were killed by the people who were supposed to love and protect them, all because they did what comes naturally and loved someone else… who just happened to be “unsuitable” but still another human after all.

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© Copyright 2010 Sharell शारेल, Diary of a White Indian Housewife 2008-2014. All Rights Reserved. Do not copy and reproduce text or images without permission.

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{ 82 comments… read them below or add one }

Indian Pundit June 27, 2010 at 10:31 pm

@ Abdullah @ Andrea

Most Indian male virgins in their 20s actually lie about sexual experiences while talking with other males.

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Sharrell's Celebrity Doppleganger June 28, 2010 at 4:30 am

@ Abdullah: “The problem here is the American ideology that there is no sexuality beyond youth or with maturity. This is one area which Americans have a lot to mature on.”

ARE YOU KIDDING?!?! I just read an online news article about the rise of STDs in RETIREMENT HOMES of all places !!! And Viagra prescriptions is subsidized by the government Medicaid/Medicare. Can you believe that? My tax dollars are going to some old geezer so he can get it up???

LOL!

As far as “virginity pledges” and “purity balls” – the first time I’d have heard of them was 3 weeks ago while surfing the net.

In India it would be the Ma’s taking their betas to the “balls” (pun not intended, or was it?)

Dudh piyo!

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Amit Desai June 28, 2010 at 8:26 am

@ Andrea, “…Which is what is going on there on that indian forum….”

You claim would not have much weight if you have picked up some lines from those forums where “white women bash Indian men because they were dumped by Indian men for Indian brides”. And really, Indian men go for Indian brides because of ‘cultural similarities’ (read ‘virginal attitudes of Indian males and females alike’). Some brown men happen to have a fling here and there, but they are not the majority.

I have come across a survey conducted by Times of India last year. I don’t remember the exact figures, but the Indian males who preferred virgin females were around 61% and the Indian females who preferred virgin males were 40%. There is not a huge difference in the attitudes of Indian males and females when it comes to conservative ideologies.

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Sharrell's Celebrity Doppleganger June 28, 2010 at 9:32 am

No problem with virgins preferring or expecting to marry other virgins. But it’s ridiculous for a NON-virgin to insist their future spouse be virgin.

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Abdullah K. June 28, 2010 at 11:27 am

@ Indian Pundit – “Most Indian male virgins in their 20s actually lie about sexual experiences while talking with other males.”

True, Mr. Pundit, True. Having been in college for sometime, I know this only too well. I wouldn’t say it is just an Indian thing though. Most cultures have some parameters of manhood. In my culture for example, it is alcohol holding capacity, so a lot of boasting and betting is involved there.
 

@ Sharrell’s Celebrity Doppleganger – “My tax dollars are going to some old geezer so he can get it up???”

You’d have to make more than $ 250,000 dollars to have any ‘tax dollars’. And I believe, in some previous comments, you implied that you live on rather modest means.
 

@ Sharrell’s Celebrity Doppleganger – “As far as “virginity pledges” and “purity balls” – the first time I’d have heard of them was 3 weeks ago while surfing the net.”

Guess you don’t know much about your own country then? I was a cultural exchange student in a Kansas school some years ago and I have witnessed one for real. In a church ceremony, no less. My girl (of the time) also told me that in the host family she was first assigned to, the father used to beat his wife and rape his daughter. Apparently something so commonplace its not even newsworthy. Now that kind of society is NOT normal.

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Amit Desai June 28, 2010 at 6:08 pm

@ Sharrell’s Celebrity Doppleganger, “…No problem with virgins preferring or expecting to marry other virgins. But it’s ridiculous for a NON-virgin to insist their future spouse be virgin…”

As I already mentioned, some Indians males may have sexual adventures and still desire virgin brides, but they are not the majority. Andrea’s claim about “modern young Indian males who sleep with girls in their classes, and still demand virgin brides” is typical American shaming tactic used against American men for decades. Logically, if so many Indian males are sleeping with girls before marriage, then they are not going to be so many virgin brides either!

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Amit Desai June 28, 2010 at 6:12 pm

Correction : Logically, if so many Indian males are sleeping with girls before marriage, then THERE are not going to be so many virgin brides either!

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Sharrell's Celebrity Doppleganger June 28, 2010 at 9:10 pm

“My girl (of the time) also told me that in the host family she was first assigned to, the father used to beat his wife and rape his daughter. ”

That’s a morallyl rephrensible crime. If a witness to such activity did not report it to the police, then that witness is also morally reprehensible.

Perhaps a crime will happen to “your girl” and a witness will in turn not report it, and she will realize the folly of her ways.

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Abdullah K. June 28, 2010 at 10:02 pm

@ Sharrell’s Celebrity Doppleganger – “That’s a morallyl rephrensible crime. If a witness to such activity did not report it to the police, then that witness is also morally reprehensible.”

Fortunately, even at 14, we were more street smart than you are. There is no point getting into police mess in a country that was known to be hostile to our people. If the wife and daughter have a problem, they can go to the police themselves.

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Doctor Death June 29, 2010 at 12:42 am

@Dopplegritty Celebganger

“In India it would be the Ma’s taking their betas to the “balls” (pun not intended, or was it?)

Dudh piyo!

Not to worry mate, our “balls” are big and sturdy enough to resist the onslaught of any number of retrograde mommies
…..Sharell..Pleeaaasssee dont delete this comment! ;) :lol:

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Sharrell's Celebrity Doppleganger June 29, 2010 at 1:02 am

“Fortunately, even at 14, we were more street smart than you are.”

That’s why she phoned the police ANONYMOUSLY, I guess.

Perhaps there’s good reason for us to be hostile towards such stupid and and un-empathetic people?

Give the Ruskies their Vodka and send ‘em on the next plane OUT!

(Goa doesn’t appreciate them either)

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Abdullah K. June 29, 2010 at 11:01 am

@ Sharrell’s Celebrity Doppleganger – “That’s why she phoned the police ANONYMOUSLY, I guess.”

Yeah, after the grand welcome, we got all the reasons to trust the American establishment with our anonymity. And really, if the daughter and wife isn’t doing anything about it why should we force our empathy? For all we knew at the time, it was their culture, and we would be as unempathetic as Americans to interfere with someone else’s culture using our standards.
 

@ Sharrell’s Celebrity Doppleganger – “Perhaps there’s good reason for us to be hostile towards such stupid and and un-empathetic people?”

Stupidity invokes kinship from Americans, not hostility. Hostility comes from envy.
 

@ Sharrell’s Celebrity Doppleganger – “Give the Ruskies their Vodka and send ‘em on the next plane OUT!”

Thank you. We’d rather have our vodka than any of that aged cat piss Americans drink as beer, while we get ourselves OUT of the land where fathers rapes their daughters because the wife is too fat to turn him on.
 

@ Sharrell’s Celebrity Doppleganger – “(Goa doesn’t appreciate them either)”

That is a lot telling, as the Goans offer our people visas-on-arrival and help us make home in Goa, something they wouldn’t offer Americans. And really, I am more of a spokesperson for the Goan people than you, having a bit of Old Goan heritage myself.

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Nik June 29, 2010 at 7:31 pm

Abdullah most Americans are NOT like Sharrells Doppleganger. She represents the worst in American culture. Most Americans are honest, hard working people. So please stop attacking an entire culture because of one (or a few) idiots.

As for the whole virginity issue, whether a man wants to admit or not, he wants a girl that is a virgin. This is just part of the male psyche. A woman who has slept around a lot is alright for a short fling but not for a long term relationship. She may find someone willing to settle down with her but he will probably be garbage. This is just a biological thing I believe. Indian and Middle Eastern men are just more honest about what they want.

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SM June 29, 2010 at 8:28 pm

Even in my limited interaction with Americans,I have heard of some cases where American teens DO get raped variously by immediate family-members: own dad, step-dad, step-brothers, half-brothers, cousins etc. And most of these are NOT reported to police. So the situation that Abdullah reported, does exist.
I was surprised to encounter such tales in the US. I guess, there will be perverts everywhere in the world in every kind of society.

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Sharrell's Celebrity Doppleganger June 30, 2010 at 5:42 am

“where fathers rapes their daughters”

So why use the word “rape,” which you KNOW is a crime in the US (and everywhere) if you think it’s “part of the culture”??? If you really think it’s part of the culture then why not say “making love” or “having mutual sex”? Both you and the Ruskie girl KNEW it was a crime and yet SHE DID NOTHING.

Dispicable.

NIK:”As for the whole virginity issue, whether a man wants to admit or not, he wants a girl that is a virgin. This is just part of the male psyche. A woman who has slept around a lot is alright for a short fling”

So we have 2 choices? Either be a virgin or “sleep around alot”???

There’s no happy medium like having sex within the context of committed relationships only?

There’s always more than just 2 choices in life, Nik. Don’t limit yourself.

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Abdullah K. June 30, 2010 at 10:57 am

@ Nik:
You can relax, Nik. I have no intention to attack the American culture. As for Doppleganger, I don’t think she is the worst. She is just a moderate American. Most of her vitriol comes from ignorance and naivette, rather than any actual malice. The worst of Americans are the Stormfront types.
 

@ Sharrell’s Celebrity Doppleganger – So why use the word “rape,” which you KNOW is a crime in the US (and everywhere) if you think it’s “part of the culture”???”

Because it is just a word and the conventional definitions of an act does not criminalise the act itself. In Saudi Arabia for example, it is perfectly legal for a 50 year old to have sex with a 9 year old, provided he is ‘married’ to her. For all we knew, there is such a thing in this part of the United States. And why would we bother reporting it anyway, when clearly the wife and daughter themselves have a reason not to do so?

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Amit Desai June 30, 2010 at 3:09 pm

@ Sharrell’s Celebrity Doppleganger, “…So we have 2 choices? Either be a virgin or “sleep around alot”??? There’s no happy medium like having sex within the context of committed relationships only?…”

I know what committed relationships mean to most American women. They sleep or make out with (all kinds of) men and claim that it is not wrong to have FUN once in a while. But when their men sleep with prostitutes or OTHER women, these (feminists) women loathe it in the name of morality.

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sateypal deshwal July 9, 2010 at 6:56 pm

No honor killings in Bengal in hundred years. Are you joking?
Read this news: http://www.telegraphindia.com/1100622/jsp/nation/story_12592210.jsp
Fellas, verify your facts before writing on any public forum.
What you know about Khaps? Khaps are the oldest democratic institutions in India. Sarv Khap took active part in first war of Indian Independence. Widow remarriage was prevalent in Jat dominated( Khaps) areas from time immemorial . In Bengal it started only in the 19th century!
Khaps are against only marriage in the same Gotra and has no problems for inter caste marriages.
Historically, the area under the influence of Khaps were most liberal from the religious point of view. That was the reason for Arya samaj to become more popular than any other part of India.

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choudhary rama shankar November 14, 2010 at 1:55 am

Mr Satpal i agree with you that khaps have fought for independence of india and they are also doing some good works in solving the village level problems but is it good to kill humane only to protect the local cultural values where the law of land is present .I think its bad to put forcibly your soo called cultural values on others and i gaurentee you that the changes which are taking place in the minds of todays generations will not stoped by killing lovers by panchayats this strome will not stop

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Doctor Death July 10, 2010 at 9:51 pm

@Satyapal

And pray who are you?…..My honour killing condoning friend?

There are thousands of “Smiths” and “Andersons” and “Mitras” and “Sharmas” all over the world. So they are all realtives you say?

Hell….Most of them havent even met each other..NO! NOt even in their “past lives” as Sharell would say. :lol:

I suggest you go home and read up some books on genetics and pedigree analysis. :lol: :lol:

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Samuel Ampofo December 24, 2010 at 7:51 pm

i believe all these babaric acts can only cease when people become morally good, and one’s morality can be good when he or she totally gives or surrenders to Jesus Christ.

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Manny December 26, 2010 at 9:59 am

You mean they should give up on honor killings and surrender to Jesus so they can do the following like the Christians did with their morality?

- Inquisitions?
- Slavery?
- Lynchings?
- Jim Crowe?
- The Holocaust?
- Rwanda?

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shihab November 19, 2011 at 8:33 pm

ohh my god,this happens in india,i never heard it before.thank god ,in my state it not there

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Sharell November 19, 2011 at 8:49 pm

Difference between north and south!

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ASG January 10, 2012 at 3:13 pm

It is sad that parents have to resort to such extreme measures to save family honour. More often it is the society which compels them to do so. In India what u do reflects upon the status of the family to which u belong. It is not just a question of u as an individual, u have to think about your family as well.

These people are not animals. They believed that the entire population of a village belong to the same mythical father. They are all members of the same family. So technically all are brothers and sisters, so they cannot marry. This is the concept of GOTRA. This concept of gotra is prevalent all over the country but in a slightly modified form. We also do not get married in the same gotra. But even if we do, there is no bloody retribution. In India it all depends upon how liberal your family, whether u are based in a city or village etc.

One of the reporters who went into one such village in the heart of a modern city like New Delhi, asked one of the villagers why they do not change with time. The villagers replied why do u want us to change, we have been like this for centuries. It stuck me that we urban people are not free from our biases. We love to judge people. We have not changed. Why do we want them to change. What they believe may be funny to us that does not mean we do not respect their culture. With the advent of modernity these people have become vulnerable. They believe that the urban culture will make their future generations immoral. The more we accuse them, the more stubborn they will become clutching on to their traditions. Just like if u had started criticizing your in laws culture left right and centre without understanding them they would have never accepted. The fact that u made the extra effort helped in bridging the gap. We have to open a dialogue with these pockets of traditional thinking and take them along with us. The problem with “modern Indian people” is that they become berserk in the name of modernity and do not see things in the light of reality. In India there is no absolute truth, we are all operating in the grey area. Oversimplification is dangerous. A better understanding and reaching out to these people is the only way to prevent such unfortunate things from happening in the future.

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Upasana November 12, 2012 at 1:19 pm

No matter what it is, no human has the right to kill an innocent human being just because s/he is not following societal norms.

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prahlad December 13, 2012 at 11:03 am

this attitude that some cast are backwards and should not be written about is wrong.second thing that honour killings are done by one particular caste is wrong . all the region like haryana ,punjab , rajasthan , have been under particular circumstances in history which the other part of india were not involved.

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