Aarushi Talwar Case<< A HONOUR KILLING
Aarushi Talwar Case is a case of honour killing, we dont know how far it is true but we can know what we actually mean by HONOUR KILLING
An honor killing or honour killing is generally a punitive murder, committed by members of a family against a female member of their family whom the family and/or wider community believes to have brought dishonor upon the family. A woman is usually targeted for: refusing an arranged marriage, being the victim of a sexual assault, seeking a divorce – even from an abusive husband – or committing adultery or fornication. These killings result from the perception that any behavior of a woman that “dishonors” her family is justification for a killing that would otherwise be deemed murder.
Human Rights Watch defines “honor killings” as follows:
Honor crimes are acts of violence, usually murder, committed by male family members against female family members, who are held to have brought dishonor upon the family. A woman can be targeted by (individuals within) her family for a variety of reasons, including: refusing to enter into an arranged marriage, being the victim of a sexual assault, seeking a divorce — even from an abusive husband — or (allegedly) committing adultery. The mere perception that a woman has behaved in a way that “dishonors” her family is sufficient to trigger an attack on her life.
However, it should be noted that the term honor killing applies to killing of both males and females in cultures that practice it. For example, during the year 2002 in Pakistan, it is estimated that 245 women and 137 men were killed in the name of Karo-Kari in Sindh. These killings target women and men who choose to have relationships outside of their family’s tribal affiliation and/or religious community.
Similarly, in certain cultures, such as Palestine, a rape victim may be seen as being at fault, and marked for death if, prior to the rape, she failed to adhere to strict segregation between males and females. Some women who bridge social divides, publicly engage other communities, or adopt some of the customs or the religion of an outside group may thus also be attacked. In countries that receive immigration, some otherwise low-status immigrant men and boys have asserted their dominant patriarchal status by inflicting honor killings on women family members who have participated in public life, for example in feminist and integration politics. Women in the family can support the honor killing of one of their own, when they agree that the family is the property and asset of men and boys. Alternatively, matriarchs may be motivated not by personal belief in the misogynistic ideology of women as property, but rather by tragically pragmatic calculations. Sometimes a mother may support an honor killing of an “offending” female family member in order to preserve the honor of other female family members since many men in these societies will refuse to marry the sister of a “shamed” female whom the family has not chosen to punish, thereby “purifying” the family name by murdering the suspected female.
There is some evidence that homosexuality can also be perceived as grounds for honor killing by relatives. Several cases have been suspected but not confirmed. There is a documented case of a gay Jordanian man who was shot and wounded by his brother.
Honor suicides occur when people order or pressure a woman to kill herself; this may be done so that the people avoid penalties for murdering her. This phenomenon appears to be a relatively recent development. A special envoy for the United Nations named Yakin Erturk, who was sent to Turkey to investigate suspicious suicides amongst Kurdish girls, was quoted by The New York Times as saying that some suicides appeared in Kurdish-inhabited regions of Turkey to be “honor killings disguised as a suicide or an accident.”
As of 2004, honor killings have occurred within parts of various countries, such as Albania, Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, Ecuador, Germany, India, Iraq, Israel (within the Arab, Druze and Bedouin communities), Italy, Pakistan, the Palestinian territories, Saudi Arabia, Sweden, Uganda, United Kingdom and the United States.
According to the UN:
- “The report of the Special Rapporteur … concerning cultural practices in the family that are violent towards women (E/CN.4/2002/83), indicated that honor killings had been reported in Egypt, the Islamic Republic of Iran, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Pakistan, the Syrian Arab Republic, Turkey, Yemen, and other Mediterranean and Persian Gulf countries, and that they had also taken place in such countries as France, Germany and the United Kingdom, within migrant communities.”
In December 2005, Nazir Afzal, Director, West London, of Britain’s Crown Prosecution Service, stated that the United Kingdom has seen “at least a dozen honor killings” between 2004 and 2005. Given the geopolitical politics dominant today, the practice of honor killing is associated in the West with certain Muslim cultures and the peoples influenced by those cultures. Honor killings are more common among poor rural communities than urban ones. Christians living within parts of Africa and the Near East, such as sections of Egypt, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority, sometimes carry out the crime, as well as some men from some Muslim communities. While violence and discrimination against women is unfortunately widespread across the globe, it is well established that social inequality is a participatory factor. There is a strong positive correlation between women’s social power and a baseline of development, associated with access to basic resources, health care, and human capital, such as literacy. In some locations, attacks or killings have been perpetrated against women by individuals who are not close relatives, often in the context of enforcement of religiously-sanctioned social requirements such as wearing hijab or engaging in more open interaction with unrelated males. One example is the current trend in the Iraqi city of Basra, where authorities report that around 15 female corpses are discovered monthly; the victims are believed to have been killed by groups who seek to enforce sanctioned behavior on women.
UNICEF has reported that in India, more than 5,000 brides are killed annually because their marriage dowries are considered insufficient. Widney Brown, advocacy director for Human Rights Watch, says that these killings are similar to the killings in countries where Islam is practiced, because they have a similar dynamic in that the women are killed by male family members and the crimes are perceived as excusable or understandable.
Every year in the UK, about 13 women are victims of honor killing and often cases are unresolved due to the unwillingness of family, relatives and communities to testify. A 2006 BBC poll for the Asian network found that 1 in 10 young Asians polled said that they could condone the murder of someone who supposedly dishonored their family. The poll surveyed more than 500 young British Asians, of the Sikh, Hindu, Muslim and Christian faiths.
Many cases of honor killings have been reported in Pakistan. During the year 2002 in Pakistan about four hundred people (men & women) were killed in the name of (Karo-Kari) in Sindh Out of 382 (245 women, 137 men). The phenomenon of the killing in the name of honor has direct relevance to the illiteracy rate, as these killings are more common in the areas where the literacy rate is lower. According to a report issued by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), Jacobabad District ranked first in terms of murder in the name of Karo Kari (66 women, 25 men). Jacobabad district has a literacy rate of 23.66, the least literate district of Sindh after Tharparkar District, and Thatta District. After Jacobabad, the Ghotki District witnessed the highest number of murders in the name of Karo Kari (13 men, 54 women). After Ghotki, Larkana is the district with the next highest murder rate in the name of Karo Kari (24 men, 38 women). Larkana as well, has a low literacy rate of 34.95. This is lower than even Naushahro Feroze District, Dadu District, and Khairpur District, having 39.14, 35.56 and 35.50 percent literacy rates respectively. These districts of the upper Sindh have low literacy rates but high feudal influence in every walk of life. Jacobabad, Ghotki and Larkana are those districts of Sindh where not only the illiterate, but tribal chieftains are also present in large numbers. According to a report released by the HRCP, the cases of Karo Kari are mostly settled at jirgas, the private and parallel judicial system of Chieftains. However, districts of lower parts of Sindh like Tharparkar, Badin, and Thatta experience nominal occurrences of honor killings because they have a lower amount of feudal influence there.
Honor killing as a cultural or religious practice
Sharif Kanaana, professor of anthropology at Birzeit University states that honor killing is:
- A complicated issue that cuts deep into the history of Arab society. .. What the men of the family, clan, or tribe seek control of in a patrilineal society is reproductive power. Women for the tribe were considered a factory for making men. The honor killing is not a means to control sexual power or behavior. What’s behind it is the issue of fertility, or reproductive power.
An Amnesty International statement adds:
- The regime of honor is unforgiving: women on whom suspicion has fallen are not given an opportunity to defend themselves, and family members have no socially acceptable alternative but to remove the stain on their honor by attacking the woman.
Hina Jilani, lawyer and human rights activist
- The right to life of women in Pakistan is conditional on their obeying social norms and traditions.
Although largely a feature of the distant past within the Christian communities, there are isolated instances of Christians living within parts of Africa and the Near East, such as sections of Egypt, Jordan, and Palestine, carrying out this crime.
The Torah indicates the penalty of death for virgins who engage in premarital sex (only if the act occurs “in the city” and the woman does not scream for help).  However, there is no similar passage in the New Testament.
||The neutrality of this section is disputed.
The Hindu historic practice of sati, or widow-burning, in parts of India and South Asia can be considered a form of honor suicide in those instances when (at least theoretically) the act is voluntary, with a deceased man’s widow immolating herself on his funeral pyre as an act of pious devotion and to preserve her and her family’s honor. The justifications for sati, as well as its actual prevalence and acceptance, are subject to much historical and religious debate, however. Ever since the Governor-generalship of Lord Bentinck, sati has been banned and is now considered murder.
The division is often postulated between ‘forced sati’ and ‘voluntary sati’, both of which have been common at different times and at different places in India This division is a common response to a discourse that glorifies women who have committed sati but is deeply contentious. Both ‘forms’ are illegal in India.
Sati has occurred in modern times in northern India as recently as the 1990s. Sati still occurs occasionally, mostly in rural areas. About 40 cases have occurred in India since independence in 1947, the majority taking place in the Shekhawati region of Rajasthan. A well documented case from 1987 was that of Roop Kanwar. In response to this incident, additional legislation against the practice was passed, first by the state government of Rajasthan, then by the central government of India. Some additional cases in 2006 are under investigation, though local authorities maintain that no evidence of coercion can be found. However, local authorities have been generally obstructive of such investigations and in the past have not acted independently on evidence of coercion.
More common in modern times are caste-based honor killings. The prevalence of caste-based panchayats has caused an increase in the numbers of such killings in recent years. The numbers have reached a point where the Supreme Court of India has felt forced to intervene, calling the murders ‘barbaric’, and calling on the government to act to promote inter-caste marriages; in response the Central government and several state governments have announced schemes providing monetary inducement to those who marry outside their castes. CPI (M) leader Brinda Karat has claimed that “ten percent” of murders in Punjab and Haryana are honor killings. Such killings have now spread to Hindu and Sikh communities in the United Kingdom and even, according to a 2008 report, to British-born members of those communities.
Muslim majority countries
Most Islamic religious authorities prohibit extra-legal punishments such as honor killings, since they consider the practice to be a cultural issue. As certain pre-Islamic cultures still have regional influence, those who practice honour killing use Islam to justify honour killing, but there is no support for the act in the religion itself. The death penalty cannot always be applied in the Sharia as murders are a type of “qisas” (“retaliation”) crime 2-178. This means that the family of the deceased should be offered the choice of capital punishment or “diyya” (“blood money”) and no execution can take place without them opting for death. Because a relative(s) is usually responsible for the honor killing, it is unlikely that the family of the deceased will punish one of their own for the crime. However other punishments can be legislated and the murderer cannot pardon himself.
According to Amnesty International, in Iraq, honor killings are conducted by armed groups, and not the government, upon politically active women and those who did not follow a strict dress code, and women who are perceived as human rights defenders.
Honor killing in national legal codes
According to the report of the Special Rapporteur submitted to the 58th session of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights (2002) concerning cultural practices in the family that reflect violence against women (E/CN.4/2002/83):
- The Special Rapporteur indicated that there had been contradictory decisions with regard to the honor defense in Brazil, and that legislative provisions allowing for partial or complete defense in that context could be found in the penal codes of Argentina, Ecuador, Egypt, Guatemala, Iran, Israel, Jordan, Peru, Syria, Venezuela and the Palestinian National Authority.
The Israeli government denies that its law allows for “family honor” as a defense in murder, partially or completely.
Countries where the law is interpreted to allow men to kill female relatives in a premeditated effort as well as for crimes of passions, in flagrante delicto in the act of committing adultery, include:
- Jordan: Part of article 340 of the Penal Code states that “he who discovers his wife or one of his female relatives committing adultery and kills, wounds, or injures one of them, is exempted from any penalty.” This has twice been put forward for cancellation by the government, but was retained by the Lower House of the Parliament.
Countries that allow men to kill female relatives in flagrante delicto (but without premeditation) include:
- Syria: Article 548 states that “He who catches his wife or one of his ascendants, descendants or sister committing adultery (flagrante delicto) or illegitimate sexual acts with another and he killed or injured one or both of them benefits from an exemption of penalty.”
Countries that allow husbands to kill only their wives in flagrante delicto (based upon the Napoleonic code) include:
- Morocco: Article 418 of the Penal Code states “Murder, injury and beating are excusable if they are committed by a husband on his wife as well as the accomplice at the moment in which he surprises them in the act of adultery.”
- Haiti: Article 269 of the Penal Code states that “in the case of adultery as provided for in Article 284, the murder by a husband of his wife and/or her partner, immediately upon discovering them in flagrante delicto in the conjugal abode, is to be pardoned.”
- In two Latin American countries, similar laws were struck down over the past two decades: according to human rights lawyer Julie Mertus “in Brazil, until 1991 wife killings were considered to be noncriminal ‘honor killings’; in just one year, nearly eight hundred husbands killed their wives. Similarly, in Colombia, until 1980, a husband legally could kill his wife for committing adultery.”
Countries where honor killing is not legal but is known to occur include:
- Turkey: In Turkey, persons found guilty of this crime are sentenced to life in prison.
- Iraqi Kurdistan: In Kurdistan, Yazidi women are killed for dishonouring their familly name. But this doesnt happen that often anymore because of the new Iraqi law.
- Pakistan: Honor killings are known as Karo Kari (Sindhi: ڪارو ڪاري) (Urdu: کاروکاری ). The practice is supposed to be prosecuted under ordinary murder, but in practice police and prosecutors often ignore it. Often a man must simply claim the killing was for his honor and he will go free. Nilofar Bakhtiar, advisor to Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz, stated that in 2003, as many as 1,261 women were murdered in honor killings. On December 8, 2004, under international and domestic pressure, Pakistan enacted a law that made honor killings punishable by a prison term of seven years, or by the death penalty in the most extreme cases. Women’s rights organizations were, however, wary of this law as it stops short of outlawing the practice of allowing killers to buy their freedom by paying compensation to the victim’s relatives. Women’s rights groups claimed that in most cases it is the victim’s immediate relatives who are the killers, so inherently the new law is just eyewash. It did not alter the provisions whereby the accused could negotiate pardon with the victim’s family under the so-called Islamic provisions. In March 2005 the Pakistani government allied with Islamists to reject a bill which sought to strengthen the law against the practice of “honor killing”. However, the bill was brought up again, and in November 2006, it passed. It is doubtful whether or not the law would actually help women.