At least 10 members of a family were sentenced to death by a local court for killing an 18-year-old girl, her lover and the lover's brother in 2008.
Vijaya, 18, her lover Udai Pal Singh and Singh's brother Satyabhan were killed in Pilkathra village in Etah in November 2008. Vijaya's father Ramesh Pal, along with his other family members and relatives, had killed the three people.
The death sentence for Ramesh Pal and his accomplices is undoubtedly an exemplary punishment for honor killing. It's small comfort, though, when we note that 5000 girls and women around the world are killed every year by their own family in the name of "honor", according to the the United Nations Population Funds [UNFPS] report on "the state of world population 2000". Almost all of them involved love, sex, or marriage against the wishes of their parents, family, or community.
Article 16 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights asserts:
- Men and women of full age, without any limitation due to race, nationality or religion, have the right to marry and to found a family. They are entitled to equal rights as to marriage, during marriage and at its dissolution.
- Marriage shall be entered into only with the free and full consent of the intending spouses.
These rights are violated when family or parents force their children — of "full age" or not — into a marriage not of their choice, or murder them when they enter into a relationship of their choice, but against the family's wishes.
It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that religion and its inseparable twin, tradition, are almost always the prime movers in "honor killing". Just take a look at the reservations expressed by the member states of the U.N. on Article 16. The judiciary ought to be the first recourse for any violation of individual rights. It will be hamstrung, however, as long as political compromises and appeasement of religious conservatives prevent much needed legislative reforms.
The triple death of Vijaya, Udai Pal, and Satyabhan demonstrates how critical it is to have a uniform civil code in a multi-religious society, that is based on reason and not religion. My fellow Americans who are supportive of Biblical, Shariah, and other religious laws, please take note.