Families of honour killing victims share stories of caste brutality

A workshop on ‘Honour crimes in Tamil Nadu’ was held in Lady Doak College in Madurai on Saturday.   | Photo Credit: R_ASHOK


G. Roginavathy is an elderly woman belonging to a Scheduled Caste community from Keezhamaruthur in Tiruvarur district. Her physically challenged daughter was persuaded into marriage by a man from a landholding dominant caste family.

His family, which opposed the marriage, murdered Roginavathy’s daughter, the man, and their infant in 2014, roughly a year after their marriage. Though the accused have been awarded imprisonment for 30 to 37 years, Ms. Roginavathy says her family still faced oppression and ostracisation in the village.

The incident was one of the five brutal stories of honour killings shared by the family members of the victims at a one-day workshop on ‘Honour crimes in Tamil Nadu’ organised by Department of Women’s Studies on Bharathidasan University in association with Centre for Women’s Studies in Lady Doak College and the non-governmental organisations in Tamil Nadu on Saturday.

A. Kathir, executive director of Evidence, who coordinated the experience-sharing by the family members, said that discrimination towards Scheduled Caste communities was deeply entrenched in the society in such a way that even the educational and economic status of the community did not matter.

He cited the case of a masters graduate in Statistics from a reputed college in Chennai, hailing from a SC community in Dindigul where his father was a government servant. He fell in love with a trained nurse from an intermediate caste. Under the pretext of discussing marriage, the girl’s family allegedly summoned and murdered him.

Mr. Kathir said that honour killings were getting reported in Tamil Nadu at an alarming rate. “Our organisations have recorded more than 180 honour killings in the past five years. This is apart from other honour crimes, which included torture and abetting suicides,” he said.

Highlighting the absence of stringent and special laws to deal with honour crimes, he said that steps taken in this regard had remained non-starters.

Indu Agnihotri, Visiting Fellow, Centre for Women’s Development Studies, New Delhi, said that the terming of these incidents as ‘honour’ crimes itself was questionable since no honour was involved in such crimes.

She said that such crimes must not be seen as caste issues alone, but also as gender issues. “In Northern India in particular, such crimes are also associated with property rights. If an upper caste woman gets married to a person from Dalit community, the woman’s share of property from her family is likely to be shared by the Dalit man as well. This changes the social order in the village since the Dalits are generally landless,” she said.

She said that women’s movement and organisations in particular like All India Democratic Women’s Association were at the forefront of fighting honour crimes.

M. Krishnan, Vice-Chancellor, Madurai Kamaraj University, said that disintegration of joint families, gaps in the relationship between parent and child, and the failure to inculcate moral and ethical values from childhood were the key reasons for such incidents.

N. Manimekalai, Director and Head of Department of Women’s Studies in Bharathidasan University, spoke on the objectives of the workshop.

Caroline Nesabai, Director, Centre for Women’s Studies, Lady Doak College, welcomed the gathering.

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Printable version | Jul 30, 2021 3:14:36 PM |

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