Last week, I wrote about the India Supreme Court’s dramatic denouncement of honor killings and their declaration that such crimes should merit the death penalty. Now, this new policy may be put to the test, with the case of two mothers in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, who have been charged with the murder of their daughters.
The two women were strangled last week after they returned home to make peace with their families after eloping with Hindu construction workers. The daughters are Muslim, and inter-religious marriages between Muslims and Hindus are uncommon and widely disapproved of, especially in rural communities. There are more and more instances of inter-religious unions in urban cities. It’s unclear whether the two mothers, who are neighbors, worked together to kill the young women.
One of the mothers reportedly told an Indian newspaper, “How could they elope with Hindus? They deserved to die. We have no remorse.”
The Indian Supreme Court referred to such killings, which are often condoned and even ordered by village councils, as “barbaric and feudal.” They are, however, disturbingly widespread. According to the Washington Post, a study found that somewhere around 900 youth are killed each year for defying their elders. Many of these killings are, like the strangled young women, of young adults who fell in love and married against their parents’ wishes.
As I wrote in my earlier post, as someone who is staunchly against the death penalty, I am opposed to its use, even in situations such as these. But certainly, a message should be sent that honor killings are horrific and completely unacceptable. Whether this means convicting more people for honor killings, imposing longer jail sentences, or conducting education programs in rural areas, something needs to be done so that young men and women stop dying at the hands of their families and close communities.
Photo from Flickr.