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Worldwide Honour Killing Candlelight Vigil: An ode to the victims of honour killing

A voluntary organization that protects interreligious and intercaste couples, recently started a campaign against honour killings in the country. Here’s everything you must know about the movement.

india Updated: Mar 12, 2018 17:30 IST
Abhinav Verma
Abhinav Verma
Hindustan Times
Honour Killings,Worldwide Honor Killing Candlelight Vigil,Love Commandos
Mehwish, mourning the loss of her husband Abdul Hakim, who was shot by five men in Bulandshahr on November 22, 2012 in the name of honour killing.(HT Photo)

When Abdul Hakim, a humble labourer from the Faqir community fell in love with Mehwish, a girl from the Jhojha community in Adoli in Bulandshahr, in 2012, their lives turned upside down. They were from different castes,and their families declared that marriage would never be a possibility for them. The couple had no choice but to elope against their families’ choice, and while doing so, they signed a death warrant against themselves. With their family out for their blood, they ran from their village and took protection in one of the shelters run by Love Commandos, a voluntary organization that protects interreligious and intercaste couples. For a while, they stayed with in the shelter, and even appeared on the TV show Satyamev Jayate with Bollywood actor Aamir Khan. However, tragedy struck in 2012 when Abdul, who was 28-years-old at that time, was shot dead by Mehwish’s family members. Mehwish, was 25-years-old at that time, and eight months pregnant.

For Love Commandos, Abdul was their first love martyr under their protection. ”This is a case we can never forget. We never thought that we would lose them to hatred one day,” says the founder of the organisation, Sanjoy Sachdev. Recently, on International Women’s Day, Love Commandos promoted a global campaign, Worldwide Honour Killing Candlelight Vigil, to honour the victims of honour killing and bring awareness to the cause. The campaign,in its fourth consecutive year, was launched in association with It’s My Right - No Forced Marriages, a global community based out-reach programme that raises awareness on human rights issues such as forced marriages, honour based abuse, domestic violence, and female genital mutilation.

Apart from Delhi, participants from states such as UP, Rajasthan, Assam, Meghalaya, Karnatak, Punjab, Haryana, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Telangana, Andhra Padesh and Tamil L Nadu took part in the campaign.

Standing by love

The goal of this global movement is to take a firm stand against honour killings and provide a platform to groups, organizations and individuals all over the world who are fighting for this cause. The idea is to engage communities and take action against these practices in a peaceful yet powerful way.

Young people from all walks of life are taking to social media to show their solidarity with the movement. (Facebook/Worldwide Honour Killing Candlelight Vigil)

There is a shocking absence of accurate data on the number of honour killing victims in the country, and the number of intercaste and interreligious marriages or couples. No official research has taken place up till now. According to Sachdev, the unofficial number of honour killing victims, who are murdered is 10,000 per year in the country; and the number of victims, who suffer physical abuse is 5 lakh per year.

What drives honour killings

For some parents, children are like personal property. When it comes to marriage, children have no rights, no freedom to choose, says Sachdev. He says that the social conditioning of people for so many years is such that they perceive that the only way to preserve their family honour and continue their family legacy, is to marry in the same caste.

Challenges that police face while dealing with honour killing cases

The major problem is that no political party in the country has any agenda for the protection of honour killing victims, so far, says Sachdev. “Most of our police officers are brave and effectively deal with such cases. However, at times, some police officers also have the same mentality as the perpetrators. Hence, they become part of the problem rather than the solution,” he says. At times, due to political pressure, cops are hesitant to take the required steps to bring justice to the victim’s family. Whenever the police encounter such a case, they don’t register it as a case of honour killing. They do it as a domestic violence case or a criminal case.

The campaign aims to engage changemakers to discuss these challenges and find solutions, so that young people don’t have to give their lives in the name of love.

First Published: Mar 12, 2018 14:42 IST