People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 04

January 22, 2012


AIDWA Demands Special Law on Honour Crimes


A nation wide signature campaign demanding the formulation of a special law to address honour crimes was formally launched by the All India Democratic Women's Association (AIDWA) on January 14, 2012. The signature campaign was flagged off with the signatures of Ravinder and Shilpa, a couple who have been facing constant attacks at the hands of caste panchayats. The couple have been on the run from their village ever since a khap panchayat declared their marriage “immoral” and ordered their social boycott and exile.


The signature campaign, which focuses mainly on the youth, would be taken to different universities and colleges before the budget session of the parliament. The signatures along with an open letter would be submitted to the parliamentarians for their perusal of the issue during the session.  The letter addressed to the members of parliament says it is a matter of concern that a law on such a crucial matter is being delayed, despite an assurance for effective intervention having been given on the floor of parliament.


The matter was raised by Brinda Karat in the Rajya Sabha on July 28, 2009, and members, cutting across party lines, had underscored the gravity of the situation. Home minister, P Chidambaram emphasised that “No caste panchayat had the right to pronounce upon the conduct of individuals”, and had given an assurance that appropriate action would be taken on this issue.  Unfortunately, this has not happened.


The ministerial committee set up in this regard has not come forth with any concrete proposals. The draft law which was submitted to the law minister by the AIDWA in August 2010 (titled The Prevention of crimes in the Name of Honour & Tradition Bill, 2010) has also not been acted upon.  Meanwhile, there has been a tremendous increase in the number of honour related killings. A variety of accompanying violations of democratic rights have led to distress and humiliation for the affected families. Despite courts awarding protection for couples and their families, in several cases, the police themselves do not take such crimes seriously. Thus, the multiple dimensions of the crime need to be addressed comprehensively, and it is in this context that we urgently seek your intervention.


The open letter mentions that the AIDWA is dismayed by the continuing inaction of the government in formulating this important law and appeals the parliamentarians to take this matter up with the utmost urgency, and urge the government to legislate on this issue without any further delay. 


Along with launching the signature campaign, a preview of a film made on honour crimes was organised. The film “Izzatnagari ki Asabhya Betiyaan” (The Immoral Daughters in the Land of Honour) directed by Nakul Sawhney, deals with several dimensions of honour crimes. The documentary was later screened in Delhi as part of the Persistent Resistance Festival.