Are murders a matter of honour?
We get experts to air their opinion on an issue each week and lend their perspective on a much-discussed topic.
Honour killing has been a recurring issue in the northern parts of the country for years. But in a scary development, it is slowly raising its head in the South. Last week, the body of a young man who married a woman out of caste against her family’s wishes was found in Kerala. There were questions asked about the police’s inaction. But few addressed the issue of caste and the bigger issue of killing for honour. We talk to activists, social thinkers on the measures that can be taken to address the issue.
Quick, serious action must
Wanitha Ashok, Social thinker and Activist
I am deeply saddened by this gory incident, it’s a brutal murder, this animal act in God’s own country is unfathomable. Every Holy book mentions that, there is only one God but people still choose to go ahead and chop people like they are trees in the name of caste that makes us worse than animals. What’s in a caste when it comes to your children’s happiness? It’s sad that while the world is forging ahead technologically and evolving as superior beings, we have people who live like cavemen. Haven’t people heard about sitting down and having a conversation and sorting things out? Who gives them the right to own others life? My heart goes out to the family members and the young girl. Policemen who are supposed to protect us, being a part of this heinous crime is saddening. Quick and serious action should be taken and punishment should be grave so that there is no repetition of such acts ever in the future.
Let girls, boys make their own choices
Ranjana Kumari, Activist and Director, Centre for Social Research
It is shocking. Normally we say that cultural and social shift will take place when education and development levels are high and Kerala is a niche example of such state. But this whole caste system is deep-rooted irrespective of state and the political class is responsible for it. The leadership should change and help in transformation of the society instead of forcing these wrong . Secondly, when certain incidents happen, especially down the South, no leadership is worth the mean. To remove these issues, the culprits should be punished. Work towards delusion of caste system in India. We need to do strong mobilisation in the country. Also, let girls and boys make their own choices. The Supreme Court has already made a judgement saying that for love and marriage you don’t have to ask family, community or religious people, you can make your own decisions. People all over the country should be made aware of this.
‘Time to rethink’
Sandeep Aikyam, Social Activist
Honor killing per se is a law and order issue, but it has a sociological aspect. If this is raising its head down South, it shows how society is regressing. After attaining all these progress, education and awareness, we are regressing. Why are people separating themselves in terms of caste? If society has equal opportunities and access, there is no need for people to feel separated. We are still living in bubbles of caste and creed. We need to rethink as to how we can achieve it. We should open up our education facilities and all resources for everyone and empower them.
‘Call it caste atrocity’
Kalpana Kannabiran, Director of Council for Social Development
It’s not apt to refer to it as honour killing. Honour killing is prevalent not only in the North, but if you check the data, there are so many kidnapping cases filed against boys. In Tamil Nadu, I heard a case where a man killed his daughter who married a person belonging to a different caste, claiming that for him, caste was more important than his daughter. It is all caste atrocity and not honour killing. When we say honour, many questions arise like whose honour, what honour is it about? It is just plain murder. All those Dalit men are killed for marrying girls of other caste, that too by the girl’s family. There is no way out. Caste system sanctions violence, which should stop right away.
Sensitisation is important
Sudha Ramalingam, Activist
Honour killing is a misnomer; to deem that a woman’s exercise of choice violates the family honour is regressive. This patriarchal attitude denies women their basic right to live as autonomous persons. Unfortunately, often, police and other state authorities are sympathetic to perpetrators of these acts because of their own patriarchal attitudes. The solution is not simple or quick. Swift prosecution in this case can serve as a deterrent to future crimes, but more importantly, there needs to be sensitisation of people and law enforcement agencies alike, as to constitutional values of gender equality and awareness that violence in the name of moral policing or honour killing is reprehensible and criminal.