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HONOR CRIMES(Need to protect the dignity of Women)

Updated: Jul 29, 2020




Honor crimes, also referred to as honor killings, i.e killings in the name of honor, crimes involving tradition, or crimes in the name of honor denote the murder of a female or male family member, more often by male relatives, to reclaim their lost honor of their family following a dishonorable act by any of their the family member. Honor killings may happen in any form, but almost all cases involve extreme forms of violence. These actions are supported by the community, and they treat the killing as a heroic action. Honor Killing has various causes behind it, which mainly includes the women being dressed inappropriately, wanting to get into a love marriage and not favoring the arrange marriage, becoming a victim of rape, and the list is endless. Basically the main cause of honor crimes comes out to be the women being adamant and wanting to live her life the own way she wants which definitely the society and the family does not accepts. There are numerous laws against the honor killing for example, the Constitution of India, which has provisions that allow an individual to exercise his/her choice independent of caste, religion or gender and protection from honor killings. Inspite of various laws being in force, yet the Indian culture still not accepts the wishes and desires of the women and there is a dire need to educate and enshrine the people so that they treat the women on an equal footing and allow them to live their lives the own way they wish to.

It is clear that a wide range of measures are needed to effectively combat patriarchal crimes against love and against women's autonomy in India.


The term "honour" crime possibly misleading because not only does it implies that such crimes are "honourable", but also have the impression that these crimes are a product of the "culture" –i.e customs and traditions specifically to certain communities or faiths. The main reason for these crimes being so much prevalent in the country is because of the rigid traditions and specific communities

Meaning of Honor Crimes

Honour killing implies an act of violence, especially a sort of murder committed by male members of the family against female members, who are thought to have brought disgrace and shame to the family. A woman could be targeted by her family for a variety of reasons, which mainly includes refusing to enter into an arranged marriage, becoming the victim of a sexual assault, wanting to seek divorce from an abusive husband who is being committing adultery.

Rarely, but even men can also be the victim of honour killings by the family of women with

Whom they ever wanted to have inappropriate relationship. The major part of it is the importance of the reputation of the family in the society and the stigma associated with the loosing of status. Honor killings, kind of an extra-judicial punishment for a female relative for assumed sexual and marriage offences. These offences are considered as insulting as most of them includes sexual faithlessness, marrying without the will of parents or having such a relation that the family considers to be inappropriate and being against the tribal matrimonial customs. In India, commonly in places like Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Rajasthan usually practice honour killing more. In India, parents have a basic idea that they have a right to control who their daughter marries. In case of homicide, the killers are motivated by monetary means while in case of honour killing, it is a permanent elimination of the member to bring back the honour of the family.

Causes that trigger honor crimes

The causes of honour killing are different in nature and vary from society to society. These causes are much deep rooted in the society and can be explained as under:

a) Refusal of an arranged marriage is often the most common cause of honour killing.

b) A Woman wanting to seek divorce or separation without the consent of the husband even if the husband had been torturing her.

c) In certain other societies victims of rape suffer severe violence including from their families and relatives. In many parts of the world women who have been raped are considered to bring utter dishonour to their families, more often if the woman becomes pregnant.

d) Homosexuality can also be considered as a ground for honour killings.

e) In the case of an unmarried girl relating herself with a man, loosing virginity or being raped

f) Engaging in heterosexual acts outside marriage, or even due to a non-sexual relationship perceived as disapproved by their family. Honor killing has different types.

Murder is not the only form of honor crime; the methods of honor killing also include stoning, stabbing, beating, burning, beheading, hanging, throat slashing, lethal acid attacks, shooting and strangulation.

Why does Indian society still practice Honor Killing ?

1) Our society has yet not reached the stage of maturity where a grown (legally adult) person's individuality and independence is respected especially when it comes to the marriage. For example, a legally adult girl or a boy still has to have the 'approval' of their family for choosing a life partner. It could be understood parents giving advice about marriage, life, how to behave maturely etc but having a say in whether or not its ok to marry someone is ridiculous.

2) The second reason is sort of linked to the first. Parents/family members do not respect their son's or daughter's individual space, their independent thoughts and personal decisions because EVERYONE in the society is to quickly judge others without realizing that it's basically NONE OF THEIR BUSINESS! If a grown man, woman wants to take up any unconventional profession like, being an Air Steward / Hostess, the first thought that comes to parent's mind to their choice is, 'log kya kahenge?', what will people say?

3) The third reason is India's biggest problem as a society. Morals. Everyone pretends to be morally upright and tries to judge others. Sex, which is a need as basic as food and water how could it be associated with a person's dignity. It definitely need not be. If a girl or a boy, with mutual consent and their own free will, wish to have sex with anyone of their choice, ITS THEIR OWN DECISION! No one has the right to judge their morals in this case.

Hence, a grown, legally adult person wanting to live with another person with or without getting married would be their own decision which our society has still not learnt to respect. Hence they're judged as immoral. Even today, if a family cannot respect their child's decision, they will be afraid that the society will judge them, causing much 'shame' and 'embarrassment'. Therefore they prefer this 'honour killing'.

Legal Provisions against Honor Killing

So far when it comes to honor killing, there is no specific law to deal with it. The murder comes under the general categories of homicide. ‘Honour Killings’ are against International Law and against United Nation agendas. Though we don’t have any law to specifically deal with it in India but we have judicial precedence over it. There are also some bills which are in the latent stage against the honour killings, which are still being planned to be introduced in the parliament sooner.

  • Constitution

Article 14, 15(1), 15(3),19 and 21 of the Constitution of India. Article 14 and 15 of the Indian Constitution says that each and every person has equality before law and equal rights before law which means each and every citizen of India shall be treated equally and no discrimination on the grounds of creed, race, sex and caste, etc but here when we deal with case of honour killing, the women is been murdered which forms gender violation. Article 19 and 21 of the Indian Constitution deals with Right to Freedom and Right to life and personal liberty respectively. In the case of honour killing the right of an individual to freedom is being violated. It is the freedom of every citizen to choose their life as per their own wishes and where no person has the right to infringe and compel the citizen to act as per the wish of others. Every citizen of India has the right to life and liberty which is the most important of all fundamental rights. No person has the right to take away any others life.

  • Indian Penal Code

Talking about IPC, In case of honour killing, it is similar to that of homicide. Section 299 and 301 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 which says culpable homicide amounting to murder and the act of killing the victim is made with the intention to kill them for bringing dishonor to the family.There are certain provisions which are been violated due to this crime. In the case of Nitish Katara Murder Case (one of the incident of Honour Killing), the people who perpetrated the act of Honour Killing were punished for an imprisonment for a term of 25 years for the offence under Section 302(Murder) of the IPC and 5 years for offence under Section 201 of the IPC. Section 307: Penalizes attempt to murder with imprisonment for up to 10 years and a fine. If a person is hurt, the penalty can be extended to life imprisonment. Section 308 which Penalizes attempt to commit culpable homicide by imprisonment for upto 3 years or with fine or with both. Section 120A and B further penalizes any person who is a party to a criminal conspiracy. Sections 107-116 which Penalizes persons for abetment of offences including murder and culpable homicide. Section 34 and 35 which Penalizes criminal acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention.

  • Hindu Marriage Act

Section 3 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1857, which states that every citizen shall attain majority after attaining the age of 18 years. However later, the Supreme court making an amendment in the Act stated that every citizen shall attain majority at the age of 21. According to the Hindu Marriage Act, every citizen has a right to choose their life partners on attaining the age of majority. But, in the case of honour killing it is a violation of their right as it kills the victim for choosing their life partner. If the victim does not accept the marriage as arranged by the family, and the partner of their choice, they are subjected to be killed in the name of bringing dishonour to the family.

In a landmark judgment dated March 2010, the Karnal District Court ordered the execution of the five people in an ‘honour killing’ case of Manoj & Babli, giving a life sentence to the khap head who ordered the killings of Manoj Banwala (23) and Babli (19), two members of the same clan who eloped and married in June 2007 and their dead bodies were found a week later from an irrigation canal. In her verdict, district judge stated. Khap panchayats have functioned and turned contrary to the constitution, ridiculed becoming a law unto themselves. This was the very first case convicting khap panchayats and the first capital punishment verdict in an honour killing case in India. The legal experts and Indian Media hailed it as a “landmark judgment”.

There are certain misconceptions regarding the practice of honor killing. The first major misconception is that this is a practice that is limited to the rural areas. The truth is that it is spread over such a large geographical area that honor killings do not limit to rural areas only, though it is admitted that majority of the killings do take place in the rural areas.

The second misconception being that honor killing has religious roots. Even when a woman commits adultery, there have to be four male witnesses with good behavior and reputation to validate the charge. Furthermore only the State can carry out judicial punishments, and never an individual vigilante.


If for instance any person in the family is not happy with the marriage done by the young men/women, the maximum they can do is to cut off the social relationship with them and should realize that honour killing does not bring any honour to the family. Family is important but family by killing a member is not important. Honour killings are done for saving the honour of the family. No ‘religion’or ‘culture’ has the right to kill and harm women based on their perceptions of their morality or honour. The freedom of their belief does not mean freedom to kill. Everyone has right to live their life with full dignity and equality.


  • preventive steps taken by the Supreme Court to combat honour crimes include, submitting a National Plan of Action and State Plan of Action, and further to direct the State Governments to set up refuge camps which can be approached by targeted couples. Moreover the court held that the consent of the family or the community or the clan is not necessary once the two adult individuals agree to enter into wedlock. Any communal body that commits, attempts to commit, any crime in the name of honour against such a couple will be held liable under the Indian Penal Code. The preventive measures suggested by the Supreme Court include identifying districts where such crimes are more prevalent and policing such areas more heavily, and also preventing any communal meetings to punish the vulnerable couple from taking place. Whenever any meeting has to take place for any other reason, the police should attend such and the proceedings should be video-recorded. The sensitization of enforcement agencies and setting up of institutional machinery for coordination between stakeholders was also suggested.

  • The Court has ordered the government to provide safe homes for all those couples who have fled with protection for the couple lasting throughout the period of investigation of the alleged crime. In addition to this, state governments are required to establish refuges with a 24 hour helpline to receive and register such complaints and to provide necessary assistance/advice and protection to the couple.

This judgment is part of the Supreme Court’s jurisprudence which was reflected in the recent judgment of Puttaswami v. Union of India where individual privacy was recognised as the prt of larger scheme of privacy as a fundamental right.


1) The Indian Kanoon

2) The Constitution of India Book by Dr. Narinder Kumar

3) The Indian Penal Code Book by SN Mishra

4) The Code of Criminal Procedure Book by SN Mishra

[DISCLAIMER: This article is for general information only. We have tried to include as much information as possible but there are chances that some important information may have been missed .It is NOT to be substituted for legal advice or taken as legal advice. The publishers of the this article shall not be liable for any act or omission based on this note].

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