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Shukla, R. (2010). “Honor” Killings: A Look within the Psyche. Int. J. Appl. Psychoanal. Stud., 7(1):85-87.

(2010). International Journal of Applied Psychoanalytic Studies, 7(1):85-87

“Honor” Killings: A Look within the Psyche

Rakesh Shukla

The killing in July 2009 of 21-year-old Ved Pal in Singhwal village in Haryana when he had gone, accompanied by policemen, to pick up his wife Sonia, has re-focused attention on the “honor” killings of couples in accordance with a decision by the khap, or caste panchayat, and with the predominant approval of the community. In this particular case, after carrying out the panchayat's death sentence, a 400-strong mob from the village displayed the victim's battered body like a trophy at a crossing in the centre of the village. Ved Pal had married Sonia, who belonged to the same gotra, four months earlier, against the wishes of her family.

The case is in keeping with an ongoing social practice in the Delhi-Haryana-Uttar Pradesh region, with an estimated 100 such killings annually. The murder of Manoj and Babli in Meerut in 2007, and the strangulation last year of Jasbir Singh and the six-month-pregnant Sunita in Karnal are only a few instances that have surfaced in the public domain. The reason cited by the khap panchayat for award of the death penalty is the “heinous” offence of marrying within the same gotra. According to the rationale offered, boys and girls belonging to the same gotra are like brothers and sisters. Therefore, marriage between two individuals from the same gotra amounts to incest and is sacrilege, remedied only by killing.

Incest is a strong taboo in almost all societies. As far as the enactment into law of this taboo is concerned, the Hindu Marriage Act of 1954 bars marriage between sapindas - people within the third generation in the line of ascent through the mother, and fifth generation in the line of ascent through the father.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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