Inamul Haq and Sabeeha Khan
In the global era, South Asian countries are debating the nature and panning out of mob lynching, love jihad, vigilantism and honour killings. The encouragement of violence in the name of religion, caste, creed as well as colour is becoming more prevalent. A glaring instance is that of honour killings. These are held to be prevalent in Muslim societies, because women are always deemed as an honour for a family. The assumption is that women exemplify respect for the entire family, where male is dominant and he is free to do anything. The wrong doing of a man does not matter in patriarchal society, while as a woman’s single mistake is considered as dishonour. Yesterday, it was the story of Pakistan, Bangladesh and other dominant Muslim majority countries of South Asia. However, today it is the reality of India, where honour killings are increasing. According to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) , 251 cases of Honour killings were registered in 2015 by Indian police compared with 28 cases in 2014. Uttar Pradesh witnessed the highest number of honour killings, followed by Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh respectively.
The question is: what is meant by honour killing and how does it pan out in Indian society? Shorn of accretions, honour killings mean the killing or murder of women by family members on the basis that the victim has brought dishonour upon the name of the family. According to Human Rights Watch, “Honour Killing is an act of violence committed by male family members against female family members, who are held to brought dishonour upon the family”
In the 1980’s, the government of India enacted strict laws for violence against women. However, these laws are framed in books only and on ground reality, violence either domestic, gender, caste or either sexual prevails in the Indian society. In rural India, (particularly), honour killings are happening on the basis of caste and religion. Such crimes were largely unreported, because of direct or indirect support from the community. A women is beaten, burned, strangled to death or forced to commit suicide is ignored rather than a man who does inhuman act gets support publicly and economically.
Recently, three incidents happened in different states of India. First one the brutal murder of Afrazul, a Bengali Muslim labourer in Rajasthan, who was burnt alive by a follower of Hindutva ideology on the name of love jihad. The second one occurred in Karnataka, where a pregnant Muslim lady namely Banu Begum was burnt alive by her parents, because she married a Dalit man. The third one happened in Hisar, where a five year old girl was raped and later on killed. All the three events are inhuman in nature and should be condemned. But the question is why we are biased in nature. Who needs support Banu Begum or Shambunath Raigar?
Honour killing is often believed to be an Islamic practice, because of its occurrence in Muslim-majority societies. Actually, Islam condemns and forbids this act, because it is a serious crime. However, the narrative of Banu Begum proved that Muslims are far behind in terms of religion and they do not obey religion in terms of women rights. For many , women are mere a property used for domestic work during day time and as a tool of leisure at night. There is nothing in the Holy Quran that permits honour killing, however, the view of women as a property is deeply rooted actually in culture, which is proved by the murder of Banu begum. This is not a story of only Banu Begum, but it is a portrayal of every girl, irrespective of religion and caste who became the victim of this ruthless crime. It is true that women are really a blessing, but the need of hour is to protect the blessing from the clutches of violence, ensure their basic rights and empower them in every matter , as we are because of them.