Honour Killing in India: An In-depth Study

Posted on July 13, 2010 in Editor's Picks, Society

By Sango Bidani:

Recently, there has been a spate of honor killings in the country and this has led the government to decide what laws should be put in place to stop this heinous crime. Also whether the Hindu Marriage Act should be reformed or not is being debated. The latest case of honour killing was reported from New Friends Colony, where a couple was murdered by the father of the girl, Vimla (20), and a guard named Robin, after they found 28 yr old Hari from Jalandhar and Vimla in a compromising position in an under-construction building. So what is the definition of honour killing and what leads families to commit this heinous crime so that they can protect their family honour? Is this practice prevalent only in India or is it prevalent in other parts of the world also? What are the misconceptions regarding honour killing and what are the solutions to stop this crime from spreading? These are the questions that this article seeks to find an answer to.

Honour killing is defined as a death that is awarded to a woman of the family for marrying against the parent’s wishes, having extramarital and premarital relationships, marrying within the same gotra or outside one’s caste or marrying a cousin from a different caste. Honour killing is different from the dowry deaths that are also a very common practice in India as, in the case of dowry deaths, the perpetrators of that action claim that they have not been given enough material rewards for accepting the woman into the family. In that case there is a lot of harassment from the in-laws and more times than one, it has been noted that the wife commits suicide rather than being killed by the in-laws, though it has to be said that she has been mentally killed, if not physically. We have had a tradition of honour killing. This tradition was first viewed in its most horrible form during the Partition of the country in between the years 1947 and 1950 when many women were forcefully killed so that family honour could be preserved. During the Partition, there were a lot of forced marriages which were causing women from India to marry men from Pakistan and vice-versa. And then there was a search to hunt down these women who were forced to marry a person from another country and another religion and when they returned ‘home’ they were killed so that the family honor could be preserved and they were not declared social outcastes from their region. At that time, the influence of religion and social control was much greater and hence there were at least a couple of honour killings a day, if not more. The partition years can be seen to be the beginning of the tradition of honour killing on a large scale. It’s worth mentioning here that Honor Killing is not specifically related to India only. This is a practice that continues to be prevailing in North and South America, Africa, Turkey and many other countries. But the thing that has to be kept in mind is that the number of incidents relating to this crime is very low and there is a very strict punishment for committing this crime in other countries.

Now, there are various reasons why people or family members decide to kill the daughter in the name of preserving their family honour. The most obvious reason for this practice to continue in India, albeit, at a much faster and almost daily basis, is because of the fact that the caste system continues to be at its rigid best and also because people from the rural areas refuse to change their attitude to marriage. According to them, if any daughter dares to disobey her parents on the issue of marriage and decides to marry a man of her wishes but from another gotra or outside her caste, it would bring disrepute to the family honour and hence they decide to give the ultimate sentence, that is death, to the daughter. Now as has become the norm, the son-in-law is killed as well. Sociologists believe that the reason why honour killings continue to take place is because of the continued rigidity of the caste system. Hence the fear of losing their caste status through which they gain many benefits makes them commit this heinous crime. The other reason why honour killings are taking place is because the mentality of people has not changed and they just cannot accept that marriages can take place in the same gotra or outside one’s caste. The root of the cause for the increase in the number of honour killings is because the formal governance has not been able to reach the rural areas and as a result. Thus, this practices continues though it should have been removed by now.

There  are various misconceptions regarding the practice of honor killing. The first misconception about honor killing 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 we cannot isolate honor killings to rural areas only, though one has to admit that majority of the killings take place in the rural areas. But it has also been seen recently that even the metropolitan cities like Delhi and Tamil Nadu are not safe from this crime because 5 honor killings were reported from Delhi and in Tamil Nadu; a daughter and son in law were killed due to marriage into the same gotra. So it can be seen clearly that honor killing is not isolated to rural areas but also to urban areas and as already pointed out, it has a very wide geographical spread. The second misconception regarding honor killing is that it has religious roots. Even if 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, but never an individual vigilante. So, we can clearly see that there is no religious backing or religious roots for this heinous crime.

What can we do to prevent such a thing from happening? Firstly, the mentality of the people has to change. And when we say that the mentality has to change, we mean to say that parents should accept their children’s wishes regarding marriage as it is they who have to lead a life with their life partners and if they are not satisfied with their life partner then they will lead a horrible married life which might even end in suicide. Secondly, we need to have stricter laws to tackle these kinds of killings as this is a crime which cannot be pardoned because. Humans do not have the right to write down death sentences of innocent fellow humans.


YouthKiAwaaz.com is an award winning, India's largest online and mobile platform for young people to express themselves on issues of critical importance. This article has been written by a Youth Ki Awaaz Journalist/Contributor. You can submit an article too. Click here to write for Youth Ki Awaaz, or to submit a photo or a video.

Submit Your Story


You must be logged in to comment.

If you sign up with Google, Twitter or Facebook, we’ll automatically import your bio which you will be able to edit/change after logging in. Also, we’ll never post to Twitter or Facebook without your permission. We take privacy very seriously. For more info, please see Terms.

Vishnuprasad R

Are we Indians going back to 19th century. I worry if Sati system would be re-introduced soon

karunesh shukla

This is a very heinious offence.It can not be tolerate by us.There must be a strict law to privent.


one side we call us ultramodern and other side we do an offensive act & give the name “honour killing”.
Such we are so ultramodern.


honour killing is such a shame full thing for India.
India get freedom in 1947 but the rate of honour killing increasing year by year.

Arvind Singh

Very nice article, I agree with you that the act of killing your own Child in the name of honor is not justified and barbaric too but aren’t we cheating our parents and family when we indulge in such acts. I think its natural if our parents control whom we should marry or not. I read some on http://www.lawisgreek.com/india-legal-news-government-proposes-ordinance-to-prevent-honor-killings/

prateek kr

though there are some cases reported in the urban areas i’m sure those who did it must be having their roots in the rural areas. as far as my knowledge is concerned I don’t think people in urban areas go to that extent. Although, there may be exceptions.

anupam chauhan

I like this article a lot as it touched the each and every aspect of the subject ,i would like to say that if people accept that lord Krishna can marry to many women and our old days marriage system that is swam var is practiced at that time if that was accepted then when the situation comes on us why we dint accept it??????BE REALISTIC …..START ACCEPTING THE TRUTH

Anand Shankar

Very good article. There are lots of stories on this type of crime. AS Honourable Raja Ram Mohan Rai taken initiative and stopped Sati Pratha, some should take here also. Because, In this case we are not losing only some Human being, We are losing youngsters, who are the future of India. Who can change the India. So, please protect India’s wealth.

Gopal krishna

In our ligal system custom is also treated as law which carry on time immemorial and judiciary also try to protect it. If any person is going to voilat the law he must be punish. The parents who gave the birth us and fulfill our all requirment, why will they kill us? it is a big question. why the present generation want to chiet them? why they not have faith on them? I want the answer………..I think at some extent honor killing is right because the person who is not going to follow the rule of the society,he has no right to live in this society…. It is the well known principle of the society.


It is heart wrenching to know that in this progressive society there are people like you who justify murder and killing. Please let better sense prevail, there are better ways of making people understand stuff, if at all needed. Not by killing them. Consider yourself as a progressive youth, please DO NOT JUSTIFY killing of any form. Thanks for the time you spent on reading the article.

Sango Bidani

I agree completely with your [email protected] Thanks everybody for reading this article of mine. Hope it helps you change your perception on the hugely important topic at this time Honor Killing. Just think before justifying such an act!!


i m completely opposed to this ritual.it is very derogatory for girls i think we still lag behind than other developed nations.redundant issues are more emphasized eventually developed nations r taking advantage of that.


honour killing shows the narrowmindedness of the mature people.when elders will not try to understand their childrens,then who else?

Anand Shankar

Dear Mr. Gopal krishna, As you written here is going totally in different way. You are saying right that parents has born us and fulfil all requirements. As you know every creature on the earth born baby, serve food and fulfil as per their requirements and at the adult stage they leave them to live their life with their style. This is the natural rule every creature on the earth choose there couple on their wish. It can’t be forced. And we are human being yet we are forcing for it. Then animals are better than us if we are doing this type of things. We live in a society but for whom and why society was created? To kill somebody? No, society was created to protect human beings, help each other and give freedom to live the people. Choosing a life partner with own wish is not a exploitation and it must not be forced to anybody. Adult human can live their life with own style and thinking. If human couple born baby fulfil all the requirements, then only they expect one thing, when they will old, he/she will fulfil their requirements also. Then, If the matter was on this, that child is not helping out their parents when they are not able to do anything then its ok that give some punishment to that child but not death. But in the case of choosing life partner they should not force them, they should help not kill them. Society is created by us, so rules can be modified by us also. If our legal law can be modified then why society’s rules not? I think the word honour killing is shame for the humanity.

Anand Shankar

Very right comment.


A complicated issue that cuts deep into history where stains are washed by blood… HONOUR IS KILLING THE LIFE THAT RESPIRES BESIDE THE CLAN..

shiv kumar

The continued war on love being waged by the community in the name of honor has posed the biggest challenge for Indian democracy. however it is duty of every Indian to to do something against this menace.I have tried to do something however it is too small in magnitude of the problem. I have written a novel-A Metro Nightmare- which has honor killing and prejudice against love marriage in the traditional society as a dominant theme. I request the members to give it a try. it is available at a1books.co.in, flipkart.com and ebay.com and will soon reach the book stores. for more information write to me at [email protected] or visit my profile at orkut or facebook or my website https://sites.google.com/site/ametronightmare/ or at any of the online selling sites mentioned above.
shiv kumar

naveen rathee

God created a very beautiful creature on earth i.e. human being . With the increase in population from time to time people started making there on groups on the bases of there perception and each group set their own norms which each group member had to follow at any how.but with the passage of time people started refusing it so which leads to the death of them by other members of the group.same is happening with the honour killing but at some stage other are right because these persons are immature a.

Nancy Johanson

Thank you for the insight on the heinous crime of honor killings taking place in your country. I was speaking with Indian friends last night via Skype and another honor killing made the newspaper somewhere on page 4. My friends said that no one will be arrested for the crime as the police and head of the village would come to an agreement to allow talk to cease on the incident and then do nothing.
Unless the Indian government decides to investigate each and every crime like this and mete out severe punishment, the barbaric practice of honor killings will never stop. Since India is a country that revolves around the family, as an American I can not understand how your children can be so expendable in the name of a loss of stature in society. Thank God this country would deal with this crime some other way. If any honor killings would take place in America, it’s citizens would cause such a ruckus that justice would be served and the deaths of those who died in vain would be avenged. I hope enough of your citizens will lend their voices to pressure the government to enforce laws against caste and the resulting loss of life in its name.


I would like to draw the kind attention of all the persons. What is Gotra. if gotra is the only base to establish relation of brother-sister then what about the relation between same gotra but of different caste. for example- Tomar gotra is found in jats of Baruat and Baghpat, in Rajputs of Central U.P.and in some lower castes also like Julaha, Pal and Gujjars too. same is the case with gotra like chauhan, Rana, Kataria, Punia, Dahiya, Rathi and so many. Can any one tell how it could be, that different castes are having similar gotras. Can person of different caste but of same gotra be treated as brother and sister. Answer is no. Our so called SAMAJ KE THEKEDAR have their own conception of society and killing the people in the name of Ijjat. It is high time to analyse ourself and act.

Piyush Dixit

Very good Artical

dr ashu kumar


punishment is must and must be publicly ..(to set an example, poeple must think thousand times before killing someone in the name of honour)

1)if adultery is increasing in society why we don’t build up people of character
killing is not the solution ,i think most people in every society (caste ,sub caste)lacking in character..
2) in case of love marriege why we don’t reform the society..
social reformation is must..

govt must do something ..
as it always vote bank policy maker.. not able to arrest some community jugde. who the hell they giving punishment to innocent poeple..
our constitution is for what?????


hi thanks for the article
but is commenting on this article the only thing that we should do?
I think you or anyone who have an idea,just suggest real efforts that we should do in order to force the government to have a strict law against this offense.can’t we ask and contact socialists and state governments, government of India to advertise in news papers and request the Indian citizens and parents to have the thinking “Inter caste marriages are the way to Indian unity and thus should be applauded.Even arrange marriages should be encouraged to be inter caste.”

  • Tweets that mention HonourKilling in #India: An In-depth Study One of the most debated and read archival readings. -- Topsy.com
  • pooja singh

    Its we who form our own society. Society comprises of many but not single human being. various culture and practices makes it a livable place. Killing someone just for one’s “Honour” looks too selfish and unjustified. As far as our Indian constitution is concerned, it doesn’t gives permission to anybody to kill someone else except only in the case of self defense.


    Hey please give some idea how we can do something to make a positive atmosphere for inter caste marriages in our society.Please

    abhishek haver

    is honor killing should be made punished with different law…..or punished with substining law of evidence or i.p.c??


    dealing into such a burning issue where the life of youth ends in such a killing!how cud i keep my eyes shut wen i see an end to life…wat is so honourable in killing?
    dreaming of plutonic love or even wishing for utopion love..will be dream forever…the article above is well said…mentality got to change either v change on r own or let the law force it on all!


    To be honest its a very complicated issue. Its not only about marriage, its about anything and everything related to honour of the family or society. For example: if an unmarried girl gets pregnant, some will think its justifiable to kill the gal but some will think it as immature. If the girl is not killed, the father may commit suicide, due to fear of the society. So here comes the ultimate fact.. we create society but we are bound by society’s norms. Even if we say we have created the society and its norms and we can chandge it, its not that simple. These honour killings arise due to conflict of ideas between the younger and older generation. The older generation upheld the social norms in high esteem but the younger generation thinks the social norms as useless.. to some honour killing is understandable if not justifiable….
    but well this menace of some retards should be stopped immedaitely… thanks for ur article.

  • END HONOUR KILLING IN INDIA [Life Is Beautiful: "Change Minds, Save Lives"] | Youth Ki Awaaz: Mouthpiece for the Youth
  • apoorv

    Who the hell has given one authority to take anothers life.And morover there humanity is the best religion, caste and honour. If u are not a human then who the hell r you tosay about honour.


    y DID parents gave us life if they wanted to kill us. No one has the right to take anyones life come what may

  • [HAPPY NEW YEAR] Best Of 2010 On YouthKiAwaaz.com (Honour Killing, Domestic Violence, Pranav Mistry and more) | Youth Ki Awaaz: Mouthpiece for the Youth
  • mona

    Hi all

    really its such a curse for our society,,,,
    the fear of to be killed by someone is horrible and here death is the reward of love

    OMG wat people thinking in that way they can stop someone feelings,emotions

    such parents are heartless and people who are heartless can never understand their child’s feelings and although they are not GOD but they wanted to act as GOD for their child..
    that if they have given birth they can take our life back as well,,,wat a shame

    youth like me is suffering from such things a lot..and only youth can raise voice against it…honor killing is highly critical act by human for human for the name of society..

    Love should be unconditional..

    May GOD spread love everywere and Humanity

    Sango bidani

    I completely agree with u and i believe it must be extremely traumatic for u and for the youth in general. I was planning to write a petition asking for stricter laws against this henious crime. Sounds good@ mona.

    Nabanita Singha Roy

    To anyone who can stop this honor killing please act now. (2nd Feb, 2011)

    My cook’s(Lalit Kamti) younger brother Rupak Kamti(16 years), and his friend, Kaushal Dhobi(18-or 19 years old) study at Samastipur zilla College, and go for tuitions at Darbhanga in Bihar, IN. They are from a village Vishnupur Diha in Samastipur zilla, Bihar, IN.

    Two girls (sisters, not twins, one older and one younger (16 and 17 years) from the village, young teenagers decided to get to Darbhnaga which is like a big city for them. The girls are called Preeti and Chanda Rai. Since they’re all from the same village, once the girls reached Darbhanga, they called the two boys and within a span of a few hours the village started a hue and cry about how the girls have run away. Now, the girls were scared, so they refused to come back to the village. The boys come back in the weekend anyways since they have no tuition.

    The village immediately sort of zeroed in on them when they visited this weekend cause Chanda used to hang around near Kaushal at times. The villagers kept harassing them so they ran back to Darbhnaga. Now the problem is, the village has ascertained that the boys have run away with the girls, and there’s a honor killing order on them from the sarpanch. They’re looking for the teenagers to kill them.

    In fear, they even married. Both are obviously underage weddings and can’t be legalized but that’s what they did in fear and to deal with immediate consequences.

    If anyone can save them please call/email, I’ll give you my cook’s number, and he has his brothers number. All 4 kids are hiding in Darbhanga.




    You are obviously a troll. “If anyone can save them” ?? Have you heard of something called police? And you are looking for a saviour to pop out of the internet?


    Hey any news from them…. Are they still there??? Hope they are fine….


    As I am in Ahmedabad in Guj. it is a long distance…. However tell us if you want any help from us…


    hi this is R.M.Avinash,
    please react to this type of foolish situations in india , don’t do any mischief to the girls ,some parents think of there social status and kills the one who are there dears so stop all these activities and government should punish severely and implement new act .


    I think some of the honor killing is wrong, but in the case of extramarital affairs, I think the United States would benefit a lot to allow it. I think even in cases of engagement or long term dating, the partner who was cheated on should be allowed to kill the cheater and the person who they cheated with. It would make our morals and family values better. I also think killing should be allowed for rape and incest victims to kill their attacker. I think both people should be killed for consentual incest.


    RED ALERT!!!
    A potential murderer and possibly psychotic BonyCow has been found. Moderators, please lodge complaint with the police to track down his IP address and arrest him. Or else I will firstly complain about you to the polic for allowing such horrible comments suggestive of murderous intent.


    what i think govt should have to stop this castism,means all casts comes in OBC declare them all is one & no sub casts in them, same as in SC, ST ,NT & Open.Afterall we all r human beings.


    good article.a liberal mentality is very essentials for stop all these henious crime.our legal system should be strict and speedy for such crime.


    i am not agree with the prevention part. Here it is mentioned that parents should accept their childrens wishes regarding marriages. But i want to ask one question that the parents who love their children more than any one, what about their dreams and expectation from their child? They always expects somthing from their child that he will took their names and pride to a high level. so children should also respect the dreams of their parents and should not disobey them. I am not saying that he/she should leave the one whom he/she like but children can manage it in better manner by talking with their parents. And i am sure that every parents wants happiness in life of their child, so they can be covenced.

    apoorv tiwari

    its a shame for our hypocratic society….


    hi friends,

    I am facing similar situation….where honour killing may happen..

    I love a girl whose family is very conservative and orthodox…and may kill her if they come to know of our relationship.

    I am a qualified CA and she is also post graduate….and we are togather for last 10years..

    Not sure how to save our lives


    i agree with u. +10


    u all will come to know.

    when ur daughter or sister will do some thing wrong.

    because u r indian.

    first of all change ur /ur family’s mentality then try to change india.

    ye hindustan hai , yehan aisa hi chalta rehaga

    saja se wo derta hai jo sochta hai ki wo galat ker raha hai.

    in this case one goes in a state where death punishments doesn’t matter, the honour of family matters.

    Ajay Tanwar

    There is no honor in a honor killings,we have to accept reality behind it and regard it as social evil that spoil the true character of structure of our social system in the name of caste and marriage system.We have to accept it and provoke the young and elder generation to abolish it as heinous crime.


    I’m a student of Sociology..from my point of view..we should realize this type of situation from heart n react from our rational mind. Honour Killing has no honour!
    Here, we should understand the situation from both side n make our family help to realize! there is nothing greatness or honour by killing our childs..or made them kill. There should be a friendly conversion between their child n family members. We know..Every parents just want their children’s happpinesS!

    prateek walia(15)





    i aprisate that i think this is very nice topic. i think this is write

    pankaj msw.kuk

    agar main apki baat se agree nahi karta to iska matlab ye nahi k aap mujhe maar do ya main apko maar du……..why honor killing


    shut your mouth bastard!

    when your daughter and sister do sth wrong, then family honor is this, and family honor is that!
    what about men like you? jo ma-baap ke pichhe chhup chhup ke daru peete hai, nashe karte hai aur jua khelte hai? doosre ladkiyo ko chodte hai? tab honor nahi dikhta chootiye?

    falling in love with sb is wrong? arranged marriages by families like yours are TRASH! men like you are TRASH!!

    Neelam Kedia

    what the hell… i knw parents are our everything they gave us the right to live in this world but if that means that the whole life we hav to lead according to them so plz we will like to request our parents not to give birth…this needs to be accepted by the youth first as they are the comming parents…. the youth must be able enough to hear the truth from their children that they love someone from outside the community….


    Required Immediate Help.
    Me & my lover both well settled & are 27 yrs old.We r from diifferent castes but want to marry.When I (Shailender) told this thing my father (Lives in Agra) he reacted violently & recklessly beat me with Iron Rod & pointed his licensing Gun at me & threatened me of destroying all my educational & professional documents.All my family members ( My Mother,My Sister,My Brother-in-law) are in full support with him.They all called me at home & tried to kill me but, anyhow I escaped & run out of home.
    They r telling that they will killl me & my lover also.They r threatning the girl”s family also.I m not understanding why they are doing all this & why my sisiter supporting my father ?
    My sister named NEELU working in State Bank Of India(Shamsabad-Agra) as a Clerk (M-09368078273) and my Brother-in-law named JAI PRAKASH(M-09319502224) is a Teacher in Agra,he is also supporting my sister.
    My father named P.S.SHAKYA(M-9759140738) is Ex-Army Captain and lives in Agra itself.
    So, here through this column I m giving information about One More upcoming Honour Killing becoz we (Me & My lover) will definately Marry. Once we married My Family members will kill us since. they already tried once(29th April-2012) as i discuussed above.
    Any suggestions and any Help plz contact…
    Shailender- 09891756795.

    Rupak Maz

    do u really think that talking will help?! are u so deprived from society that u do not even understand that in some parts in northern India every family has got a gun….shooting and firing are normal for them everyday! And do u actually imply over here that if a child cannot live upto their parents expectation the parent automatically have a right to kill them??! I mean open your eyes a bit…its not just about family rep here… ITS BLOODY ILLEGAL! u cant just go around shooting people…its the governments mistake that they cannot enforce stringent laws that will help prevent this kind of a heinous thing from happening…if people know they cant get away from the law while doing something like this then they’ll shit themsleves and not go around killing people… and “Names and Pride To a High Level” as u say it can be done even if you are married to a girl or a guy from a different caste!!!

    vikram singh

    my life got stuck…neither i cannot stay in australia nor in india……australian govt. do not allow to stay longer…and in india certainaly life at risk….my life has been tottaly fucked up by khaps…


    I love a boy and we are facing this problem of honour killing by his family I need help please

    Shashikant Singh

    First of all, the definition is wrong,
    “Honour killing is defined as a death that is awarded to a woman of the
    family for marrying against the parent’s wishes, having extramarital and
    premarital relationships, marrying within the same gotra or outside
    one’s caste or marrying a cousin from a different caste. ”

    It is NOT just with women, it is for both Men and Women. Yes, cases are mostly related to woman, but
    you can’t generalise that by such definition.

    Shashikant Singh

    First of all the definition of Hornor killing is wrong. It is not necessarily for women, it is for both Men and Women.
    Yes, majority of cases are happing with women, but that doesn’t mean you generalize this with such definition
    and misguide people.

    Don’t Delete My Comment, let people know that you wrote it wrong.

    Shashikant Singh

    First of All, the definition of Honour Killing is wrong,
    It is presented in a feminist way, “Honour killing is defined as a death that is
    awarded to a woman of the family for marrying against the parent’s wishes,
    having extramarital and premarital relationships, marrying within the same gotra
    or outside one’s caste or marrying a cousin from a different caste.”

    It is not only to women, it is for both for MEN and women. You can’t generalise the definition like this.
    It is wrong.

    Similar Posts


    Submit your story