Thursday, August 05, 2010

'Honour' Killings, Love Commandos and what Liberal-Secularists must do

Lok Sabha discussed 'honour killings' yesterday, the Supreme Court convicted three 'honour killers' for murder, the Khaps demanded a ban on same-gotra marriage, further details of the legal changes being considered by the Group of Ministers to curb these killings emerged, and 'Love Commandos' have set up a helpline to protect victims of family honour. It has been a busy week!

Some of the GoM proposals raise familiar liberal dilemmas: while the liberal horror at these killings is evident, should we support reverse onus clauses for murder? (See also, this earlier post). Of course, not all proposals are questionable. Simplifying the procedure under the Special Marriage Act is perhaps of utmost importance.

But those of us who consider ourselves liberal and secular can act at a personal level too. If these 'Love Commandos' are a serious bunch, they can do with legal help. Let the lawyers and law students volunteer to provide help where we can and where it is needed. Second, we must choose the secular alternatives in family law, wherever available. The Special Marriage Act will stop being 'Special' and become the norm only when citizens use it extensively - even when they are marrying someone from the same community.
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