Posts Tagged ‘honor killing’


Guest post by Samar Esapzai, a visual artist and PhD student in International Rural Development and Gender Studies.

In an enlightening class I took last semester, my professor said something that stuck with me long after the class/semester ended, for it held so much raw truth. She said:

“The woman’s body is the battleground upon which cultural and religious wars are fought.”

Being a woman in any given society, whether it may be within South/Central Asia or in the West, there are often triggers of distress and tension, and the constant battle with one’s image and appearance that plays over and over again in a woman’s head like a broken record. We live in a world where, right from the time we are born up until we die, we are told that our body defines us; that our sexuality should be proscribed – protected; and that we should do everything in our power to guard our bodies – our honour – from the enemy: men. And, if we don’t, then the blame falls solely upon us.

While there are some who manage to break free from this never-ending cycle of staring, leering, gawking, examining, judging, etc., most women will, however, be forever stuck in this rut for the majority of their adult lives. The worst part is that some women have even accepted it – accepted that they, their bodies, are the reason behind every incident of sexual harassment, sexual abuse, and all other forms of violence that have been, and will be, inflicted upon them. It has almost become like an unspoken sort of awareness, where a woman suddenly realizes how dangerous her body is to her safety. And if she slips – even once – she will have no choice but to suffer the dire consequences that accompany it.

Furthermore, when we look back at history, especially in the context of war and conflict, women’s bodies have often been treated as territories to be conquered, claimed and marked by the contender. This is why violence, especially sexual violence, against women was and still is quite common during communal/ethnic conflicts. Women would not only be raped but their bodies would be marked in such a way so as to remind the opposing enemy that their women – who are supposed to be “pure” and a representative of the community’s/nation’s “honour” – are stained.

Such markings would include stripping a woman naked and serenading her in shame in public; physical mutilation and disfigurement, i.e. cutting off a woman’s private parts, or other parts of her body, such as her nose, ears, hair, etc.; tattooing and branding a woman on her private parts, i.e. her breasts and/or genitals, with hate slogans against the enemy; and other forms of debasements to emphasize conquest and suppression.

Thus, the violation of women’s bodies equates the same political territories upon which the men from the rioting communities would inscribe their markings on. It’s like an uncanny sort of relinquishment – a victory, where it becomes blatant that in order to defeat a nation, you must violate their women. Such atrocious violations against women hence create a sense of helplessness in communities where a woman’s honour is more important than her life. And in order to revive this honour, members of the community (usually male) have no choice but to kill off every single female who was either raped or physically/sexually violated in any way. For it is known that a woman’s dishonour is the dishonour of the ethnic race, the community, and the nation as a whole.

Consequently, the targeting of women’s bodies is both an effect and a cause of the acceptability of sexual violence against women. It serves to subjugate women further, and creates an environment where violence becomes habitual and is committed with impunity. And while there is no denying that the blame often falls upon the woman for failing to guard her body from being violated, even if it is against her own volition, an equal burden falls upon the shoulders of men who deeply value their women’s honour.

I personally believe that as long as such societies conventionalize the woman as a symbol of honour and continue to instrumentalize her in such an ignominious way, gender-based violence in these societies will persist, making any iota of progress seem bleak.

Even so, not all societies associate women with honour, despite the fact that rape and other forms of violence against women still occurs. There are societies, particularly within the South and Central Asian region, where a woman’s dignity equates her entire existence as well as the existence of those around her. And though it is clear that men, too, are targets and victims of violence, it is the gendered nature of violence that marks women’s experiences as wholly unique.

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This post comprises of all the news-links related to honour killings and rulings of Khap panchayat or caste panchayats that govern villages in states like Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana.


Guest Post by Saikat Kundu:

 

The Manoj-Babli honour killing case was the honour killing of Indian newly-weds Manoj Banwala and Babli in June 2007 and the successive court case which historically convicted defendants for an honor killing.

The Khap panchayat’s ruling was based on the assumption that Manoj and Babli belonged to the Banwala gotra, a Jat community, and were therefore considered to be siblings despite not being directly related and any union between them would be invalid and incestuous.

According to Home Minister P. Chidambaram, the UPA-led central government was to propose an amendment to the Indian Penal Code (IPC) in response to the deaths of Manoj and Babli, making honour killings a “distinct offense”.

Manoj’s and Babli’s families lived in Kaithal.

Manoj’s mother, Chanderpati Berwal, had four children, of which Manoj was the eldest.

Chanderpati was widowed at the age of 37, when Manoj was only 9. Manoj owned an electronics repair shop at Kaithal and was the only member of his family receiving income.

Babli’s mother, Ompati, also had four children, including eldest son, Suresh, and Babli.

Manoj was two years older than Babli.

On 26 April Babli’s family filed an First Information Report (FIR) against Manoj and his family for kidnapping Babli.

On 15 June Manoj went to court with Babli, testifying that they had married in conformity with the law and that he did not kidnap Babli.

Chandrapati did not attend the trial so that Babli’s family would not be aware that Manoj and Babli were in town.

According to a statement filed by Chanderpati, later that day, around 3:40 p.m, she received a call from a Pipli telephone booth from Manoj, who said that the police had deserted them, and Babli’s family members were trailing them, so they would try to take a bus to Delhi and call her back later.

The family then understood that Manoj and Babli were the victims of the kidnapping.

Babli’s brother Suresh forced her to consume pesticide, while four other family members pushed Manoj to the ground, her uncle Rajinder pulling a noose around Manoj’s neck and strangling him in front of Babli.

After autopsy, police preserved Manoj’s shirt and Babli’s anklet and cremated the bodies as unclaimed on 24 June.

Police discovered a number of articles in the Scorpio used to kidnap the couple—parts of Babli’s anklet, two buttons from Manoj’s shirt, and torn photographs of the couple.

No Karnal lawyer would adopt the case, so Manoj’s family had to find lawyers from Hisar.

Bahadur also cited the contractor’s statement and the last phone call from Manoj, in which Manoj had related that Babli’s relatives were trailing them.

He asserted that there was no evidence against the accused and that it was all contrived by the media, no evidence that the khap panchayat ever met to discuss the fate of the couple, and no evidence indicating that Manoj and Babli were dead.

The leader of the khap panchayat Ganga Raj (52), was given a life sentence for conspiracy, while the driver, Mandeep Singh, held guilty of kidnapping, was given a jail term of seven years.

The personnel included head constable Jayender Singh, sub-inspector Jagbir Singh, and the members of the escort party provided to the couple.

The SSP’s statement was that “[i]t is correct that the deceased couple had given in writing not to take police security any further, but Jagbir Singh was well aware that there was a threat to their lives from the relatives of the girl.”

The case was the first resulting in the conviction of khap panchayats and the first capital punishment verdict in an honour killing case in India.

Also, few honour killing cases went to court, and this was the first case in which the groom’s family in an honour killing filed the case.

In a statement to the press, Home Minister Chidambaram slammed the khap panchayats, asking tersely, “Who are these khap panchayats?

Surat Singh, director of the Haryana Institute of Rural Development in Nilokheri, anticipated that the verdict will end the diktats of khap panchayats.

The honour killing inspired Ajay Sinha to produce a film titled Khap—A Story Of Honour Killing starring Om Puri, Yuvika Chaudhary, Govind Namdeo, Anuradha Patel, and Mohnish Behl, to raise awareness about the khap’s diktats.

Days after the verdict, a The Times of India headline hailed Chanderpati, who struggled years for justice, as “Mother Courage” for having done “what even top politicians and bureaucrats have shied away from doing—taken on the dreaded khap panchayats.”

The khap panchayats remain defiant even after the verdict.

“The verdict has done justice to my son’s death, but it has not changed the way the village works,” Chanderpati said.

A maha khap panchayat (grand caste council) representing 20 khap panchayats of Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, and Rajasthan held a meeting on April 13, 2010, in Kurukshetra to challenge the court verdict and support those sentenced to death in the case.

Each family in Haryana that was part of a khap panchayat was to contribute ₨10.

The khaps threatened to boycott any MP and assembly member from Haryana who did not back the khaps request.

After the court judgement, state authorities began to take on the khap panchayats, and consequently, many village sarpanches (village heads) supporting these councils were suspended.

On 5 August 2010, in a Parliament session, Chidambaram proposed a bill that included “public stripping of women and externment of young couples from villages and any ‘act which is humiliating will be punished with severity'” in the definition of honour killing and that would “make khap-dictated honour killings a distinct offence so that all those who participate in the decision are liable to attract the death sentence”.

On 13 May 2010, the court admitted the appeal of him and the other six convicts challenging the court’s verdict.

On 11 March, the Punjab and Haryana High Court commuted the death sentence awarded to four convicts – Babli’s brother Suresh, uncles Rajender and Baru Ram and Gurdev in the Manoj-Babli honour killing case to life imprisonment.

All this information is collected from Wikipedia & some other sites. No personal vendetta or opinion is served.


Some bizarre and equally horrid tales of crime against women from various parts of the country. This post has been updated with latest news links at the top.

 

  1. IRS officer booked for filming wife’s obscene video for dowry
  2. 13-year old girl beaten to death by village head
  3. Woman branded a witch, beaten up in Rajasthan
  4. Amaranth Yatra sevadars arrested for pilgrim’s nude MMS
  5. Woman fails to serve food quickly to son, killed
  6. Human sacrifice: Four arrested for killing girl
  7. Women talk to stranger, hacked to death by husband
  8. Honour killing: Girl murdered by mother, brother
  9. Inmates raped at will by outsiders in Hooghly rehabilitation home
  10. Karnataka: Husband forces wife to drink his urine for more dowry
  11. Girls forced to strip and clean classroom floor
  12. From the Delhi police: Why women deserve to be raped
  13. Student held for kissing girl on street
  14. Teenage girl dumps newborn to die

Please send in links to news items that you find.