‘Honour’ Killings, Love Commandos and what Liberal-Secularists must do

Lok Sabha discussed ‘honour killings’ yesterday, the Supreme Court convicted three ‘honour killers’ for murder, the Khaps demanded a ban on same-gotra marriage, further details of the legal changes being considered by the Group of Ministers to curb these killings emerged, and ‘Love Commandos’ have set up a helpline to protect victims of family honour. It has been a busy week!

Some of the GoM proposals raise familiar liberal dilemmas: while the liberal horror at these killings is evident, should we support reverse onus clauses for murder? (See also, this earlier post). Of course, not all proposals are questionable. Simplifying the procedure under the Special Marriage Act is perhaps of utmost importance.

But those of us who consider ourselves liberal and secular can act at a personal level too. If these ‘Love Commandos’ are a serious bunch, they can do with legal help. Let the lawyers and law students volunteer to provide help where we can and where it is needed. Second, we must choose the secular alternatives in family law, wherever available. The Special Marriage Act will stop being ‘Special’ and become the norm only when citizens use it extensively – even when they are marrying someone from the same community.

Written by
Tarunabh Khaitan
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  • In UP, honor killings are reported every day and that too, in well-to-do middle class families. The killings are so brutal that it is unbelievable that family members are actually proud of doing this in the name of family honor.

  • Honour killings have more to do with feudalism than that of secularism.People having feudal mentality do not allow their girls to marry with boys of even the same caste or religion if the social- financial status of the boys,in their perception,is less than them. Unfortunately, it is deeply entrenched in North India,which Sanand has referred to in his post.
    Fanaticism and feudalism lead to narrow mindednes and intolerence and that is what we are witnessing today.However, it is hoped that growing openness, increasing education and mobilty will provide the befitting reply to the so- called honour killings.This does not mean that the Government can sit idle; in fact, it must introduce the stringent laws to firmly deal with the cold blooded crimnals.

  • sahana – i used 'secular' in its literal, non-religious sense. of course one can be secular and unjust – stalin would be a very good example. but if one is secular, to be true to their secularism, they must reject religion-based laws wherever possible.

    life and law – sometimes 'honour' killings are indeed because of feudalism. but sometimes, like that of rizwanur, they are because of religion. in any case, caste and religion are seriously intertwined. in either case, a conscious decision to marry under the special marriage act also symbolises the idea that relationships are a matter of individual choice.