In the southern state of Tamil Nadu, India, a couple was walking in the middle of a busy street on Sunday afternoon when suddenly, they were attacked by three men armed with sickles and machetes.
The brutal assault was witnessed by dozens of people. The assailants easily fled on motorcycles.
The man, identified as 22-year-old engineering student Sankar, died of his wounds on the way to the hospital while his wife, 19-year-old Kausalya, remains in intensive care.
Later, the woman’s father, surrendered to the police and admitted carrying out the killing.
As shocking as the entire incident may be for readers outside of South Asia, for people living in or well-acquainted with the region, Sankar’s brutal murder is just another horrific example of a centuries-old practice.
In some parts of India, a Hindu majority, caste-based segregation is so strict that people belonging to the Dalit community, the lowest of the low caste, cannot even wear shoes in the presence of an upper caste member. Marriage, therefore, between the two classes is considered a taboo.
In fact, it’s a punishable offense in the eyes of many.
Since caste-based discrimination under Indian law is illegal, extremist Hindus sometimes take the law into their hands, as was seen in Sankar’s and Kausalya’s case, and carry out so-called “honor killings.”
There are no official government statistics on honor killings in India. Al Jazeera noted in 2013: “One in five cases of honor killing internationally every year comes from India. Of the 5,000 cases reported internationally, 1,000 are from India.”
Just last year, India Today documented five honor killings that happened over the course of just three months.
India might be the world’s largest democracy and making huge strides in the field of technology. But a large part of its populations still remains emotionally shackled in the chains of centuries-old, draconian traditions.