Two widows in the Indian province of Haryana were bludgeoned to death by a 23-year-old man who had accused them of a lesbian relationship. Eyewitnesses said that the man killed the women with a wooden club, one of whom was his aunt, in full view of other villagers. He threatened the other villagers not to help the women or call the police. They watched as the two women bled to death. The man said that he had killed the women to protect his family’s honor.
This horrifying story is, according to the BBC, disturbingly common in Haryana, a province in northwest India which is “deeply conservative and patriarchal.” The nephew had already been convincted on a rape case and was out of jail on parole. It’s unclear whether another man was involved. According to one news source, the nephew was aided by another man who has also been arrested.
“This is a heinous twin-murder case and we will make sure that strict action will be taken against the accused,” said the local superintendant of police. “So far we have arrested two persons and our investigation is on.”
It’s important to note, though, that this isn’t just a murder case – it’s a hate crime committed against two women who may or may not have been involved in a lesbian relationship. The BBC says that there have been “numerous cases” in Haryana where men and women who defy notions of family honor have been “ostracized, murdered, or even publicly lynched.”
These honor killings aren’t simply murders. And we need to remember that. The fact that none of the villagers disobeyed the one (or two) men who beat the women to death is striking, because it indicates a degree of complicity, even if they had been threatened. The community needs to be part of the action to prevent crimes like these from happening in the future, even if the murders were committed by two independent actors.
Photo from Flickr.