Geeta, a 17-year-old girl, struggled to breathe as her father Kailash, strangulated her. Her grandmother, Mem, struggled to free Geeta from Kailash’s grip, but hate was stronger than love, and Geeta died. ” I saw it happen in front of me. Her body was thrown in the dump yard by the municipality officials and torn by dogs, as her kin did not claim the body, fearing social boycott. Geeta was four months pregnant. What was her crime? She had ‘shamed’ her family by falling in love with a man from the backward caste.
In India’s patriarchal society, the onus of ‘honour of the family’ lies on the women and girls of the family. They are also the first victims of the brutal practice of honour killing which is a middle-age customary practice very systematically followed to maintain the purity of religion and caste. There are hundreds of castes existing in Hindu religion and each caste group has been practising endogamy as a matter of caste principles with the superior and inferior complex which has been internalised as a culture and tradition. In the year 2015, honour killings in India have grown by more than 796% from 2014 to 2015, according to the National Crime Record Bureau statistics, 2015. In 2014, only 28 murders were reported under this category.
Geeta belonged to the Scheduled Caste category and she fell in love with Naresh, a boy from a backwards caste from the village of Shardhapur. They had eloped and worked in the brick kilns in Andra Pradesh. But when she became pregnant, Naresh took her to his family, who did not accept the relationship. Following this, Mem, Geeta’s grandmother, took her to Phatamunda village and kept her in hidden from the father’s wrath. However, Kailash tricked his mother Mem into taking him to Geeta. “He said he’ll marry her off, not kill her,” says Mem. But Geeta suffered death and worse, for exercising her will to marry as per her choices. Kailash and Geeta’s mother had fled the scene but were later arrested by the police.
“Values of Equality are only confined to the constitution,” Satya says referring to laws such as Protection of Civil Rights Act, 1955 that prescribes punishment for practising untouchability. The condition of women and low caste people in our society needs a radical change to build an inclusive society that respects human dignity, freedom and civil liberties of man and women irrespective of their age, place of birth, caste and other social identities.
There are inadequate social legislations by modern State to protect and promote their civil and social rights in social life. The lack of a separate law defining such crimes means some police officers still record them in the larger murder category and do not investigate the cases further, she said. For example, the Prevention of Crimes in the Name of Honour and Tradition Bill-2010, which would enable the state to take action against such murders is pending yet.
Till the time, the choices and decisions of women are not accepted in the conservative society, women like Geeta will die because they chose to follow love and not tradition.
This video was made by a Video Volunteers Community Correspondent Satyanarayan Banchhor.
Community Correspondents come from marginalised communities in India and produce videos on unreported stories. These stories are ’news by those who live it.’ they give the hyperlocal context to global human rights and development challenges. See more such videos at www.videovolunteers.org. Take action for a more just global media by sharing their videos and joining in their call for change.