Honor Killings Still Terrorize India's Young Lovers

Even in sophisticated Delhi, honor killings on the rise.

ByABC News
June 22, 2010, 3:43 PM

DELHI, India June 23, 2010— -- After a pair of gruesome attacks on young men and women – known as "honor killings" – shocked India's capital in the past two weeks, a group has asked the government to protect couples in socially-taboo marriages and relationships.

Shakti Vahini, a non-governmental organization, filed a petition this week in India's Supreme Court to ask the government to provide protection for couples who undertake inter-caste, inter-religious and "contentious" marriages.

The human rights group urged the courts to create safe areas in eight states where there have been a particularly high concentration of honor killings.

Honor killings are murders in the name of protecting the honor of a family or village. These killings often occur when young men and women choose a partner with whom their family disapproves – likely because they are from different religious backgrounds or castes – and the murder will somehow reverse or remove the shame or dishonor for the family.

In recent years, it has been rare for these murders to occur inside of Delhi where the population is considered to be more educated or culturally sensitive than in remote villages. However, in the span of a week there appear to have been two such killings.

Early last week a young woman, 19, and her fiancé, 20, were brutally murdered by her family because they came from different castes. The young couple were tortured for hours then electrocuted to death, according to the Hindustan Times.

The woman's father and uncle were arrested after confessing to the crime.

"The family didn't regret killing them," a police officer told the newspaper.

Another murder on Sunday resulted in the death of a couple that had been married for four years. Again, the couple's families disapproved of the marriage because they came from different castes.

In this case, the 26-year-old husband was found shot to death in his car while his 23-year-old wife died after being attacked by a "sharp object" in their Delhi home, according to the Indo-Asian News Service.