Academic journal article International Journal of Criminal Justice Sciences

Honour Killings in Haryana State, India: A Content Analysis

Academic journal article International Journal of Criminal Justice Sciences

Honour Killings in Haryana State, India: A Content Analysis

Article excerpt


Man is affiliated to the society not only socially but psychologically as well. The norms of the society are acknowledged and accepted by the man not as unavoidable social bindings but as acceptable moral obligations. Reasonably, the socio-cultural customs dominantly control the psychological behaviour of the man. The notions of good and evil, sacred and profane, moral and immoral, permissible and forbidden, honour and dishonour are transferred to the mindset of the man by the process of socialisation through the sociocultural phenomena in which he subsists. Thus man perceives the social behaviour, status and role of his own and others within the milieu of his socio-cultural values. In every society, there are certain aspects of social behaviour, patterned according to the status and role of various members of the society which are considered by the society as forbidden and if executed, are acknowledged as defiance and dishonour. The punishments in these cases obviously vary from society to society as per the nature and extent of the defiance and dishonour. The phenomenon of honour killings is the outcome of that socio-psychic milieu of typical societies where certain patterns of the behaviour of human beings, particularly the females, are recognised as bringing dishonour to their families and communities and the lost honour is reimbursed by killings them.

Conceptualising Honour Killings

Honour killing is a global phenomenon (Warriach, 2005, p. 77) and has been widely reported in countries such as Iran, Turkey, Afghanistan, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Palestine, Jordan, Bangladesh, Algeria, Brazil, Ecuador, Morocco, Israel, Ethiopia, Somalia, Uganda, the Balkans, Sweden, Holland, Germany, Italy, Yemen, India and many more countries (Ali, 2008, p. 9). It is estimated by the United Nations Population Fund that as many as 5,000 women and girls are murdered by family members each year in so-called 'honor killings' around the world (UNIFEM, 2007, p. 4). However, Kiener (2011, p. 185) claims that the number of 5,000 is thought to be gross under count and the figure is closer to 20,000 per year worldwide.

There exist various views of experts regarding the precise meaning and nature of the term honour killing. Brandon and Hafez (2008) in their study based on honour based crimes divulge that honour is a fluid concept which has been widely interpreted by different societies, cultures and classes throughout history to promote behaviour which is seen as beneficial to the community. At various times honour has been equated with attributes as diverse as bravery or cunning, strength or wisdom, vengefulness or mercy. In all societies, honour has both a private and a public aspect. On one hand it describes an individual's 'self-respect'; how a person sees himself and his relative value in society. But at the same time, measures of honour also dictate the extent to which society accepts a person's self-worth and help determine the level of status and material benefits which it accords him as a result (Brandon & Hafez, 2008, p. 1). Brandon and Hafez (2008) further remark the attributes of 'honour' in honour based violence (including honour killings) as sexual honour. The form of honour, in the cases of the killings of females by their own family members arises from ideas that the reputation and social standing of an individual, a family or a community is based on the behaviour and morality of its female members. Like other forms of honour, this concept does not exist in a vacuum but rather as a central part of a complex social structure which governs relationships between different families, genders and social units within a given society (Brandon & Hafez, 2008, p. 2).

The Oxford Dictionary of Law Enforcement defines Honour killing as "the purposeful pre-planned murder, generally of a woman, by or at the command of members of her family stimulated by a perception that she has brought shame on the family" (Oxford Dictionary of Law Enforcement, 2007). …

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