On Thursday, March 4th, a man walked from his village home en route to the local police station in northern India — carrying a severed head. His neighbors in the community were shocked at the sight and called the police ahead of his arrival.
A man named Sarvesh Kumar carried the severed head of his 17-year-old daughter to the police station and admitted that he decapitated her as they arrested him. The viral video on social media, shows him carrying the head while he flashes the victory sign with his free hand.
“This is my daughter’s head. I cut her off. I couldn’t find anything; else, I would have killed both of them. I saw her. I have done it with a sharp tool. Her body is lying in the room,” Kumar stated while police recorded him.
In the video, his voice is heard describing how he found his daughter at home alone, locked her in a room, and then beheaded her with a sharp object. Then he left the body in that room along with the murder weapon before walking to the police station.
The heinous ‘honor killing’ took place in the Hardoi district of Uttar Pradesh, which according to the National Crime Records Bureau, is the state that tops India’s list of states having the highest number of crimes against women.
Immediately, images of Kumar carrying his daughter’s head appeared on social media and were widely shared. This rekindled demands from human rights groups and women’s campaigners for better laws to fight against the practice of ‘honor killings’ and improve police investigations while also protecting potential victims.
Some of the ways a female family member may bring perceived shame upon the whole family include; eloping, marrying outside of their religious beliefs, refusing to marry according to arranged marriage plans — or any other transgression violating conservative values regarding women.
Local media and police officials reported that a woman from the same state of Uttar Pradesh was burned alive by family members last month over an interfaith relationship.
"Daughters in India are seen as a sign of family honor, which results in such crimes," said the vice-president of the Uttar Pradesh chapter of (AIDWA) All India Democratic Women Association, Ms. Madhu Garg.
"The issue of a woman's right to choose her own spouse needs immediate attention, and a separate law should be made for dealing with honor killing," Garg added.
In March last year, four men were hanged in India for the 2012 savage gang-rape attack and murder on a paramedical student in Delhi, India. The attacks against the 23-year-old female victim generated extensive protests across India, bringing global attention to the inhumane treatment of India’s women.
As if to prove that new laws are desperately needed regarding cases like these, a January court ruling in India stated that groping a child is not considered sexual assault as long as there’s no “skin-to-skin contact” or “sexual intent.” Rights activists condemned such a ruling.