Honor Over Shame
In a country where arranged marriages are the norm, potential partners are vetted on the basis of complexion, caste, religion, superstition and an array of other factors. Stray from these norms and people are killed over their choice of marriage or partners. The end result is for ‘Honor’. For the sake of honor, a family would kill their own child, have them abducted and/or raped, force them to commit suicide, etc. Yes, those famous honor killings where one should rather be dead than live the life they want to live.
Honor Killings In Numbers
Several cases aren’t reported (90-95%) in the name of conserving Indian tradition and culture. In 2015, 251 honor killing cases were registered in India. The States with the highest number of honor killings in India are Uttar Pradesh (over 30%), Bihar, Haryana, Punjab, Rajasthan, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh and Himachal Pradesh. There are other countries where women are less protected when it comes to honor killings, such as Pakistan, Iran, Iraq, Turkey, etc. Although these are countries where women’s rights are almost zilch.
Cases of honor Killings In India
There is a gap that needs to be bridged with respect to education and stronger laws as the cases below bear testament to that.
- In Uttar Pradesh, November 2013, Ramesh Rajbhar (father) with the help of another man raped his daughter and murdered her. The girl had eloped with another boy and the father tracked her down and brought her to his friend’s house to convince her to leave the boy. Upon refusal, the father and friend took her to the forest, raped her and then strangled her with her own dupatta.
- In Haryana, June 2007, the mutilated bodies of Babli (19) and Manoj (23) were found in a canal, a week after their marriage. The couple were fed pesticide and then strangulated. The village Panchayat (leader) was imprisoned for life for ordering the killings and five others were sentenced to be executed.
- In 2013, a couple was murdered for having a love affair, again in Haryana. Nidhi, the girl was beaten to death and Dharmendar, the guy was dismembered alive. The village and locals supported the killings.
- In Punjab, a 16-year-old girl named Imrana was inside her home when it was set on fire by moral vigilantes. She screamed for 20 minutes before her neighbors heard her and took her to the hospital. She succumbed to her burns.
- In Punjab 2008, Jasvir Singh shot his daughter Vandana and then struck her with an ax on her head.
- In Rajasthan, June 2012, Omkar Singh decapitated Manju, his daughter with his sword because apparently “she had relationships with men.”
The Love Commandos
With so many cases on the rise, the last few years has seen the rise of an NGO-activist organization called the Love Commandos. Their motto is ‘No More Honor Killings’, these activists have been helping young couples for the past 7 years. Couples who do not know their rights are educated and provided a safe haven to prevent their families from killing them. This group consists of lawyers, journalists, activists, etc.
A brief guide to how these guys operate:
- First, you report to the love commandos. This involves calling or emailing the commandos. The commandos give you counseling and guidance based on the situation an individual or couple is in. If a couple seeks to get married, then identification and age proof is required.
- The commandos make the rescue based on the severity of each case. In most cases, parents and family cannot be convinced and this endangers the life of the couple. Most of these rescue operations take multiple resources, locations, hours (or even days), legal assistance, etc.
- The couple must make sure they have money and resources for the marriage registration, legal process, etc. Although, in many rare cases the love commandos have bailed couples out and footed the expenses.
- The victim/victims are taken to one of the several headquarters (hideout shelters). All shelters are free for stay, food, and emergencies. The couples are required to not communicate or disclose any information to their family members that may threaten their well-being.
- The couple is then legally married if they want to. Whether it be an inter-caste or inter-religious couple, protection is guaranteed by the commandos. The couple can then move out and start their married life, as soon as it is safe for them.
This important message can be found on the Love Commando’s website:
‘Love Commandos is a voluntary organization in India dedicated to helping Indians that want to marry for love. We provide assistance in the form of protecting couples, fighting harassment and providing shelter so couples can marry freely.’