Death Has No Honor

We inhabit a world in which men can travel into outer space, in which one can hop a jet and be ten thousand miles away by the next day, but for untold hundreds of millions on this planet, the world exists only as far as the eye can see. India is among the two most populous nations in the world, but at least a third of its people remain locked in ancient ideas as to who can date and who can marry whom. Nineteen year old Ronji had been married scarcely more than a few minutes to Rajni when her husband urged they flee to a police station for protection. Her father owned 25 buffalo, which in the village, made him an important individual unlike the parents of Rajni who were common laborers. Before the week was up, both were dead at the hands of her relatives who were determined to save family, “honor.” The village structure of most Indian rural areas contains a local khap, or village elders, who make decisions as to who can or cannot marry. A girl marries a childhood boy against the wishes of the clan, and they are doomed to death at the hands of relatives, if not, her parents.

Human Rights Watch estimates there are art least 900 so called, “Honor Killings” each year in India. Virtually, all such murders occur in rural areas. The rise in such deaths stems from greater education for girls, exposure to other boys and girls while attending secondary schools or moving to cities where local clans lack the power to prevent marriage. In the world of text messaging and the Internet, hundreds of millions in India remain trapped by local customs.