There Is No Honour in Honour Killing

In Wanda Teays (ed.), Analyzing Violence Against Women. Springer. pp. 189-204 (2019)
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Abstract

Crimes in the name of ‘honour’ are on a rise in India. Both rural and urban areas have seen young citizens being killed for exercising their right to choose their life partners. With changing economic and political contexts, intermixing of boys and girls has increased in schools, colleges, clubs, workplaces and travelling in local buses and trains. Liberal education also makes them question inequalities based on gender, social and caste status. In the era of capitalist expansion, among the upper stratum of society, marriages are determined to enhance capital accumulation, facilitate mergers and business collaborations, increase property and develop joint businesses. This makes women and children of the propertied class pawns in power games of the patriarchal class interest. Concentration of property, land, wealth, business, prestige, power and political mileage has become mantra for upward mobility. Thus, the elite set the benchmark for marriage practices. Cultural nationalism and identity politics coupled with neo-liberalism have provided material basis for forcible endogamous marriages. Those couples who rebel lose property, prestige, plum positions, and, at times their lives. During the last three decades, the women’s movement in India has provided institutional support to young lovers and newly married couples faced with life-threatening consequences. The criminal justice system and state administration need to be proactive in providing security and safety to young women and men who are targeted in ‘honour’-related crimes. Strict law against honour killings in India will have to be backed by grass roots movements promoting secular humanism and respect for multicultural ethos.

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