India Struggles To Stem Rise In 'Honor Killings' Traditional Indian values are clashing with modern mores in northern India, which is experiencing a reported upsurge in murders of young couples who elope in defiance of caste boundaries and their families' wishes. Now, the government is struggling to balance tradition and law.
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India Struggles To Stem Rise In 'Honor Killings'

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India Struggles To Stem Rise In 'Honor Killings'

MICHELE NORRIS, Host:

NPR's Corey Flintoff has the story from New Delhi.

COREY FLINTOFF: There's no more joyous celebration in India than a marriage, the central institution that unites extended families and fulfills the society's strongest values. But there's a dark side. Nearly every day, Indian media carry reports like this one on Delhi's News X Channel, on the murders of young people who tried to defy very specific local rules about who can marry whom.

(SOUNDBITE OF NEWS CLIP, NEWS X CHANNEL)

A: Delhi's New French Colony woke up to a shock this morning. A couple was found murdered in a suspected case of dishonor killing. The man's body bore strangulation marks, while the woman was found tied and frothing at the mouth. The girl's father and the guard of the building have been arrested.

FLINTOFF: Unidentified Man: (Foreign language spoken)

FLINTOFF: Unidentified Man: (Foreign language spoken)

FLINTOFF: Unidentified Man: (Foreign language spoken)

FLINTOFF: Unidentified Man: (Speaking foreign language).

FLINTOFF: Sachdev meets us on a rooftop in central Delhi. He says he keeps the location of his office secret because he's received death threats for resisting violence against young couples.

SANJOY SACHDEV: Which people call honor killing, but we feel is a national disgrace. In this great country of love, there is so much hate against love and love marriage. We are flooded with calls.

FLINTOFF: Swami Agnivesh, a social reformer, says Indian politicians need to take a firm stand against village councils that advocate violence or forced marriage.

SWAMI AGNIVESH: And they just do not want to stand up and tell these so- called village elders that's rubbish, you stop this nonsense, otherwise you'll be tried for murder.

FLINTOFF: But Madhu Kishwar, a women's rights activist, says these traditional councils deserve some respect and understanding.

MADHU KISHWAR: Nobody goes, talks to those people, tries to understand what their concerns are, what is the moral universe that they come from, including those who otherwise want to celebrate India's diversity and insist that there shouldn't be a one-size-fits-all kind of society.

FLINTOFF: Corey Flintoff, NPR News, New Delhi.

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