Do we need a Law for Honor Killing?

Honor Killing is basically killing of a person who is believed to have dishonored or brought shame to his/her family for marrying in another religion or caste or being into a relationship disapproved by the family. It includes murder of a rape victim, a person who is engaged in incest and homosexuals.  India does not have laws which expressly make honor killing an offense and Honor Killing is punishable under provisions relating to murder etc. However, India does not need laws for Honor Killing. This is because law and morality are intimately related to each other and the ultimate end of the state is the moral perfection of human beings.

It cannot be denied that murderers are being held liable under section 300 and rapists too are punished for their conduct. But have the existing laws decreased crime rates so far? What about the deterrent effect that the laws need to have on the potential criminals?

When a couple of an inter-caste marriage is being killed or subjected to constant harassment and threat by their family member, is it their fault for entering into a relation which they knew that their families won’t agree too? Parents do send their children to school where the children learn religious tolerance and broad mindedness through modernization. However, same children being subjected to stereotype mentality at home, the purpose of their education fails. The parents need to change their conservative mindsets and should respect the diversity in a secular country like ours rather than taking lives of their own children. A rape victim rather being helped by the society is let down by the society itself for getting raped for her short clothes or her friendly nature. Making stringent laws after rape cases like making sexual harassment a crime after Vishakha case or making stalking an offense after Nirbhaya Case, the question is that was there any emphasis on the fact that men need to respect women and their modesty and the need for gender sensitization to be implemented in strict sense? An unmarried girl being pregnant after rape just worsens the situation even more. Khaap Panchayats have given monetary compensation to rape victims and have gone to an extent of equating a woman’s honor with mere compensation. Then how can they take their honor to such a serious extent and end up killing people? Regarding the sexual relationships between homosexual being an offense under Section 377 and regarding it ‘unnatural’ is justified? Where there is a need for respecting the differences in opinions and behavior of an individual, I emphasize that is their true freedom in India? Moreover the victims are sometimes being compelled to commit suicides for their conduct. No laws can deter honor killings and it is high time that people transform their mind sets and do not take such acts as a prejudice against their honor but be sensitive in such issues.

Therefore, in the light of above facts, it is imperative to execute and interpret existing laws first.

Roopali Mohan

Campus Associate

VIPS, New Delhi