Laws Against Honour (Honor) Killing or Karo Kari (Karokari) in Pakistan And India
Increasing Trend of Honor Killing In India
“Honor killing” may be an unfamiliar term in the West but it is a real dilemma of the East, especial in countries like India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. In the cases of honor killing the family members (mostly fathers) kill the youngsters (mostly females) on the suspicion of having illicit relations or on exercising right to choose their life partners, befriending men or committing immoral behavior, as according the offenders it would cause dishonor to the family. In Indian Sub-continent men have the final say in the family system and if they see that a woman has dishonored the family, it is usually dealt with through violence.
To have a better understanding of the nature of crime of honor killing read following news stories-
“Asha Saini and Yogesh Kumar were in love and wanted to get married. But Saini's family did not approve of Kumar: As a taxi driver, they said, he did not have the right kind of job. But more importantly for them, he was from a lower caste.
Despite their objections, Saini, 19, kept seeing Kumar, 20. To keep them apart, her father and uncle tortured and killed the couple, police say.
"We killed them because we were against their relationship. If someone comes to your house to meet your niece at midnight, what more do you do?" her uncle, Om Prakash, told reporters in televised remarks outside a police station in the Indian capital following his arrest.”
In another case one Aarushi Talwar, 13, and a domestic servant called Hemraj were murdered at the family home in New Delhi in May 2008. According to the Police, whatever has been done, the parents of Aarushi Talwar only have done it.” In December, the CBI said it had been forced to close the case due to insufficient evidence, following an investigation during which Aarushi`s parents and many other suspects were detained. Though the police suspected that Aarushi might have been killed by her parents for sleeping with the servant.
In this part of the world, especially in rural areas, any deviation from the caste system is intolerable. It is considered a dishonor for the family of higher caste, if one of their girls falls in love or marries a boy who belongs to a low caste.
Usually, the young girls are the victims of honor killing. Though the honor killing is considered a stain on the face of the society by the elites of the society yet unfortunately most of the population in this part of the world is uneducated and such incidences take place in the rural areas where level of education is drastically low.
Though most of honor killing cases go unreported, the number of reported honor killings cases in each year is over 1000 in India alone as indicated in the research paper titled “Social-legal perspective of forced marriages”, prepared by Chandigarh-based senior lawyer Ranjit Malhotra.
Unfortunately, the instances of honor killing are ever increasing from year to year. In most of the honor killing cases, where the murders are fathers, no action could be taken by the Police as there is no one to pursue the case.
Since most of the honor killing incidences took place in Indian Punjab, now, in order to tackle the situation the Government of Indian Punjab is likely to introduce a bill in the Provisional Assembly titled as ‘Prevention of crimes in the name of honor and tradition’. In this bill punishment for the culprits of honor killing is proposed equal to murder. Moreover, in a land mark judgment, Karnal district court had already sentenced five people to death in March 2010 for killing a couple in 2007.
In the neighboring country of India e.g. Pakistan the situation is rather more alarming. In Pakistan honor killing is know as “Karo Kari”, a murder, carried out by a family to punish a female family member who has supposedly brought dishonor on the family. The refusing arranged marriage, flirting, suspicion of adultery or fornication are the most common causes of karo kari in Pakistan. Another reason of karokari or honor killing is to avoid division of the property. Islam has fixed a share of inheritance for the women. Hence the karo kari is committed in rural areas, especially in Interior Sindh to safeguard the property from division.
In Pakistan law says that a proven killer can escape from punishment as he could seek or buy pardon from the victim’s family. Now in the Karokari cases, the so-called victims are the real culprits. Unfortunately, there is no law in Pakistan to tackle this situation. Rather, a bill which sought to strengthen the law against the practice of "honour killing, moved in the Parliament was rejected in 2005.