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India’s Supreme Court Says Honor Killings Should Be Punished By Death

India’s Supreme Court Says Honor Killings Should Be Punished By Death

We write all too often about “honor killings” here on Care2, which are particularly prevalent in rural parts of India.  Just last month, I reported on two women who were bludgeoned to death by men from their village (including one of the women’s nephew) because they were suspected of having a lesbian relationship.  Now, the Indian Supreme Court has taken a harsh stand on honor killings, saying that those convicted of such crimes should receive the death penalty.

“It is time to stamp out these barbaric, feudal practices which are a slur on our nation,” said the court.

Each year, according to a recent study, hundreds of people are killed for violating some element of their family’s honor code – whether it’s inter-caste marriage, premarital sex, adultery, or another social taboo.  People are rarely given the death penalty when they are convicted of honor killings, but that may be about to change.  Ruling in the case of a man who had been accused of strangling his daughter, Justice Markandeya Katju and Gyan Sudha said,

“All persons who are planning to perpetrate ‘honor’ killings should know that the gallows await them.  He cannot take the law into his own hands by committing violence or giving threats of violence.  In our opinion honor killings, for whatever reason, come within the category of rarest of rare cases deserving the death punishment.”

I feel very ambivalent about this declaration, despite the horror of the crimes which the Supreme Court is trying to address.  Because I am staunchly against the death penalty, I can’t condone its extension, even for these terrible actions, which are often encouraged by village councils and sanctioned by larger communities.  But I do admire the Supreme Court’s apparent resolution to end honor killings in India.  They should start, though, with trying to convict and jail more people who have committed honor killings, rather than declaring that they, too, should die.

 

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Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

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111 comments

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2:49PM PDT on Jul 22, 2013

Hi All. I am not the best supporter of the death penalty and I have to say the more one tries to do something to do extreme about these honor acts, the worse it becomes. The next thing we will hear about are so-called anti feminist death squads because that is what this is about, Anti-feminism. As one said it is about EDUCATION and EGALITARIANISM. As HIllary Clinton said. it's the extremists we have to worry about and there seems to be a few pro death penalty extremists posting messages on this blog.

4:25PM PST on Jan 28, 2013

While I don't always agree with the death penalty This practice is so ingrained ( and such an easy excuse for killing women) That it will take a punishment this strong to make any difference.

8:47PM PST on Feb 2, 2012

Let the punishment fit the crime. Anyone who could callously kill a family member has no respect for life and should therefore not be entitled to one. Keeping these criminals in prison is very costly and the tax payers foot the bill. The idea that everyone should live in peace and respect each other is no more than wishful thinking. Those who take a life have no right to a life. The death penalty just might make these sick people think twice about the cost of their honor.

10:41PM PST on Feb 1, 2012

If a jury has unanimously found a person (or persons) guilty of murder, especially premeditated murder, the punishment should suit the crime. They have taken a life, they deserve no further life. Taxpayers should not have to support them in prison, nor give them any chance to ever be paroled. So called 'honour killings' are no different than any other murder, only more heinous!

5:39AM PST on Jan 31, 2012

I am staunchly against the death penalty, I can’t condone this law in India. People should be taught to respect each other and to treat people as they would like to be treated. The world would be a better place if we could all do that.

2:26AM PST on Dec 26, 2011

Thank you Marianne C. You summed everything up perfectly.

I have mixed feelings about the death penalty but lean pro if the case and the evidence merits it.
As to the specific topic of honour killings, currently the men who perpetrate these crimes do so with the knowledge that they will be supported by family and community with no real consequences or punishment.

It's going to take so much more than just changing the punishment but it's a start.

1:47AM PST on Dec 26, 2011

I don't believe in the death penalty, and if an innocent person is executed you can't give him back his life. I find honor killings horrendous and the perpetrator is usually known and there is no doubt of his guilt. I think these people should be given a life sentence with no possibility of parole.

6:34PM PST on Dec 4, 2011

I'm really torn on this one. These people deserve severe punishment, but I don't know about death.

8:54AM PST on Dec 4, 2011

Geez..about time!

6:55PM PST on Dec 1, 2011

abolish the death penalty

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