Police in India have reportedly taken a man into custody who was accused of decapitating his daughter because he was angry that she was romantically involved with a man he did not like.
According to reporting by BBC News, it is not uncommon for this to occur in the country. “Murders by family members for being in a relationship are known as ‘honour killings’ and although there are no authentic figures, campaigners say hundreds of so-called ‘honour crimes’ take place every year in India.”
In places where this practice is still deeply embedded into Indian culture, people can suffer from the wrath of family members by “marrying outside their caste and religion and often these crimes against them are endorsed, or even encouraged, by village-based caste councils.”
The man was reportedly walking towards the police station, and told the law enforcement officials where the body and murder weapon were located. People who spotted the man carrying a severed head in the neighborhood called the police after becoming concerned at the sight. An investigation is currently underway.
According to the BBC, statistics from India’s National Crime Records Bureau detail that Uttar Pradesh is a state in which the highest number of criminal acts against women occurred. The honor killing that happened on Wednesday was in the same state of Uttar Pradesh, in the Hardoi district.
Although India has made progress in certain areas, the topic of women’s rights and sexual abuse continue to be a main concern for many in the country and neighboring regions.
In 2011, the Indian Supreme Court said that anyone who carries out an honor killing should be given the death penalty. “It is time to stamp out these barbaric, feudal practices which are a slur on our nation,” the court said. The decision came as two Supreme Court judges dismissed an appeal countering a sentence to life in prison by someone who had committed an honor killing.
“All persons who are planning to perpetrate ‘honour’ killings should know that the gallows await them,” said Justices Markandeya Katju and Gyan Sudha Mishra at the time. “He cannot take the law into his own hands by committing violence or giving threats of violence. In our opinion honour killings, for whatever reason, come within the category of rarest of rare cases deserving the death punishment.”
Children also face situations of abuse without punishment for their assaulters. In January of this year, an Indian court ruled that inappropriately touching a child is not sexual assault if no “skin-to-skin contact” occurs or if there is no “sexual intent.” Many rights activists harshly called out this ruling and criticized it.
In March 2020, four men were hanged in India for the cruel gang rape of a paramedical student in Delhi in 2012. The incident led to an enormous response including public protests as people called on Parliament to make rape a capital offense, punishable by death.
However, according to CBS News reporting, not much has changed despite public outcry. “Government data released in September 2020 that showed an average of 87 rapes were reported every day the previous year — a rise of more than 7% from 2018.”
Rapes and crimes against women in India are also believed to be severely underreported.
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