On December 7th, Mehtab Alam stepped into the Nadial Police Station in Kolkata carrying a butcher’s knife in one hand and the decapitated head of his sister in the other.
Alam, 29, cut off the head of his sister, Nilofar Bibi, 22, because, in his words, “she had sinned and had to be punished,” according to Al Jazeera. Bibi ran away from her husband of 8 years last November. Alam discovered that his sister was living with an old boyfriend, an auto rickshaw driver named Firoz, and on December 7th, had entered their house, severely injured Firoz who tried to protect Bibi, and dragged his sister out of the house and into the street where he killed her in broad daylight. Someone used their phone to film Alam walking towards the police station with his sisters head and posted it to YouTube.
While Nilofar Bibi’s murder may draw attention due to its particularly gruesome nature, Bibi’s death is only one of rough 5,000 honor killings a year, though that number is very approximate because “It is very difficult to work out the magnitude and number of the ‘honor killings,’ as they are often disguised as accidents or suicides,” Jean Claude Codsi writer and director of the film A Man of Honor told Al Jazeera.
On December 23, a 19-year old girl in Darhwad, Karnataka was allegedy murdered by her parents and burned, according to Al Jazeera.
On December 24, a 17-year-old girl in Uttar Pradesh was hacked apart by her father for being in a relationship with a boy from anther religion.
According to Nirmala Samant Prabhavalkar, a member of India’s National Commission for Women (NCW), many honor killings could be prevented if Indian police were more proactive in addressing the issue. “Many times, police do not take complaints by the victims seriously. They do not provide protection to victims which in turn boosts up the morale of the culprits,” she tells Al Jazeera. “But killing is killing. It is unconstitutional and illegal. It’s an offense. There is no ‘honor’ in killing.”
Image courtesy of YouTube