Honor Killings and Gender-Based Violence in India: Women's Activism and People's Initiatives

Thursday, 14 July 2016
Location: Hörsaal 33 (Main Building)
Distributed Paper
Abha CHAUHAN, University of Jammu, India
‘Gender-based violence’ refers to violence that targets individuals or groups on the basis of their gender, most of them being inflicted by men on women and girls transgressing their fundamental right to life, freedom, security and dignity. Gender-based violence cannot be understood outside the social structures, norms and roles that support and justify it as normal or tolerable. In many cases it is tacitly supported by different people, groups and institutions. ‘Honor Killing’ is one such type of violence that occurs as an act of revenge or vengeance usually resulting in a murder or death of a member of a family or social group due to the belief of the perpetrators that the victim (usually women) has brought dishonor and shame to them. In the year 2000, the United Nations estimated that 5000 people were victims of honor killings including 1000 from India. Most of these cases reported from the states of north India occurred when the age-old rules of marriage related to religion, caste, community, clan or village were violated, i.e. when people married outside prescribed social rules and norms of their choice. No specific law against honor killings exist in India today, though other legal provisions include various forms of crime against women. Efforts are being made by women activists, lawyers and several people and organizations against these acts. This paper aims to understand the role of women’s activism and people’s initiatives and the difference they are making towards generating discourse that looks at women and their issues more favorably from gender-sensitive and human rights perspective. The analysis is based mainly on the studies on Hindus, and the cases are drawn largely from the state of Haryana in north India.