An honor killing is the killing of a member of a family or social group by other members who believe that the victim has brought dishonor upon the family or the community. In countries such as India where there is little respect for the lives of women, a woman can be killed for simple things such as dressing in a manner which is deemed in appropriate, wanting to terminate or prevent an arranged marriage, desiring to marry by her own choice or engaging in sex outside of marriage.
Women’s rights activists say India’s police are not doing enough to tackle the problem of ‘honor killings’. Many times the police do not take complaints by the victims seriously. They do not provide protection for the victims and this boosts the morale of the culprits; they take the law into their own hands.
What is ironic is that simple things that women do are considered sins but the murdering of women is not. Apparently in the eyes of these perpetrators killing is okay if the victim is a woman.
The public beheading of a woman by his brother in Kolkata last December highlights the lack of respect for the lives of women in India. This incident on December 7, 2012, was another honor killing. Nilofar Bibi 22, at the time of her death was only fourteen years old when she left home in an arranged marriage. Bibi alleged that she was tortured by her in-laws and returned to her parents on November 28 but disappeared days later.
Her brother Mehtab Alam 29, found his sister living with an old boyfriend. He stormed into the house and dragged Bibi into the street in broad daylight. Passersby watched in horror as he cut off his sister’s head while saying she had sinned and had to be punished. He left his sister’s body in a pool of blood on the road and calmly walked to the police station with her head in his hand to surrender himself. He walked into the police station and placed the head of his sister and the butcher knife he used to decapitate her on a table in front of the police officer.
The sibling’s family expressed support for Alam saying they were proud he upheld their honor.
I am at a loss to understand what honor this young man upheld. Honor is protecting and defending the women in your family. Honor is defending and protecting your sister when the man who should love and protect her is abusing her. There is nothing honorable about killing a defenseless woman especially a member of your own family – your sister. It is a shameful and dishonorable act which must be condemned. There can be no honor in taking a human life.