Honor Killings in India

Honor killing refers to the criminal act of killing women for their either perceived or actual behavior that is mentally or morally impure. From another perspective, Deol has considered honor killings as murders that families instigate against their respective members who have dishonored the family name. In essence, the male members of the family commit these heinous acts. The principal factors that prompt honor killings are sexual faithlessness, getting married against the family will or rebelling against traditional norms and beliefs. India is among the nations where honor killings are a common phenomenon.

Families and communities in India have practices honor killings for centuries. As such, there have been widespread cases of honor killings in the majority of communities in India. Nonetheless, Deol has reported that cases of honor killings are more prevalent in Punjab, Rajasthan, Haryana, and Western Uttar Pradesh. India does not have precise data on the magnitude of honor killings. Notwithstanding this limitation, India has continued to report the worst incidences of honor killings than any other country. For instance, Kumar has indicated that approximately 1000 (both female and male) people fall victim to honor killings annually.

India has complex socio-cultural norms, traditions, and beliefs. Hence, no definite factor fuels honor killings in the country. On the contrary, every tribe or clan in India has identified a class of offenses that necessitate honor killings. Despite the existence of divergent views, the caste system that continues to reproduce in the Indian society has been the principal cause of honor killings. The intolerance of Indians in the upper castes to inter-caste premarital or matrimonial relationships has seen families murder their sons and daughter to restore their honor. Nevertheless, inter-religious marriage is another prominent factor that compels honor killing in the country.

Tribes and clans in India have practiced honor killings for centuries despite protests from the civil society, the media, and international organizations. Conversely, successive governments of India have formulated laws to curb these criminal acts. Conversely, these efforts have not borne fruits because the country's caste system has reinforced honor killings within the fabric of society. Therefore, future efforts should lend more focus on transforming the socio-cultural psyche of Indians to avert the reproduction of honor killings in the community.