New Delhi: With a spate of so-called `honour
killings` shocking the nation in recent weeks, human rights
activists say the increase in such cases is a testimony to the
growing conflict between rigid family tradition and modernity.
They also feel the problem can be resolved by increasing
awareness and bringing tougher legislations.
"While the younger generation wants to break the shackles
of traditional family norms, the older generation wants to
teach them a lesson for violating the rules they have been
following since ages," says Ravi Kant, president of
Delhi-based NGO Shakti Vahini.
"Our politicians are tyring hard to showcase India as an
emerging superpower. But we have not made enough efforts to
educate the rural masses who comprise 70 per cent of our
population," Kant, also a Supreme Court lawyer, said.
"Honour killing is like any other social problem which
can be fought with awareness and stronger legislation. We need
to convince people who give their social customs more priority
than anything else that these young people are making their
own choices and that is not against the rule of law," he said.
A series of cases, where young men or women were murdered
for marrying outside caste or within the same sub-caste or
against the family`s wishes have come to the fore in recent
times. Delhi had back-to-back cases in the past two weeks.
Only a few politicians have spoken against such crimes
because caste can determine an election win or loss, felt
Kant, whose organisation had filed a Public Interest
Litigation (PIL) before the Supreme Court on this issue.
Hearing the petition, the apex court had last week asked
the Centre and eight state governments to submit reports on
the steps taken to prevent such barbaric crimes.
According to the UN Population Fund, such crimes are
being committed across the globe and mostly in the Asian
continent since ages. It estimates that around 5,000 women are
killed in this way every year worldwide, vast majority of them
in Pakistan, India and Bangladesh.
In March this year, a Haryana court sentenced five people
to death for murdering a couple on the orders of a `khap
panchayat` -- a traditional unofficial local council.
Union Law Minister M Veerappa Moily has said that the
government would soon come out with a law against honour
killings and a draft has already been prepared.
Welcoming this, senior Supreme Court lawyer P N Lekhi
said, "Offences like honour killing are social offences and
strict laws are needed to combat them."
Another Supreme Court lawyer Shanti Bhushan said, "Making
the crime a separate offence would attract more attention from
the authorities as well as common man."