India: NGO Requests Protection for Controversial Marriages
Thursday, July 8, 2010 11:35 AM

The human rights non-governmental organization Shakti Vahini has petitioned the Indian Supreme Court to provide protection for couples involved in controversial marriages, including those that are inter-religious, inter-caste and “contentious.” The petition was filed after two high-profile Delhi “honor” killings were perpetrated by family members against couples of different castes.

Shakti Vahini would like the litigation to increase police responsiveness to crimes committed in the name of “honor.” It has encouraged the Supreme Court to establish safe areas in the eight states evidencing a high incidence of these crimes, asserting, “The killing of couples and individuals in the name of honor is violation of the fundamental rights of individuals to live with dignity and it is the duty of the state to protect them.”

Though there is already legislation in place to protect individuals involved in “love” marriages as opposed to arranged marriages, Ravi Kant, Shakti Vahini’s president, contends these laws are not adequately enforced, noting, “In some cases, couples have approached the police for protection, but nothing is done.” Rajan Bhagat, a public relations officer with the Dehli police informed ABC News that the recent Dehli “honor” killings were “murders like all murders” and were being investigated “with an open mind.”

Crimes committed in the name of “honor” are carried out when family members believe their relative has dishonored the family and frequently occur as a result of relationships of which the family disapproves. In past years, these crimes have been perpetrated at higher rates in rural areas and have been uncommon within the capital, Delhi. 

Compiled from: Karen Ruso, Honor Killings Still Terrorize India’s Young Lovers, ABC News (23 June 2010).