‘Evidence’ Kathir, who leads the Dalit Human Rights Defender Network, met with CM Stalin to provide him a copy of the special Bill.
He highlighted the required for Tamil Nadu to establish a precedent for the country.
A Kathir, founder-director of the Madurai-based rights organisation Evidence, met Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin on September 27 at the Secretariat to submit a draft bill focusing to end ‘honour’ killings. The Bill, called ‘The Freedom of Marriage and Association and Prohibition of Crimes in the Name of Honour Act 2022’, has been drafted by the Dalit Human Rights Defender Network led by Kathir.
CHENNAI: On a Sunday morning in March 2016, the photograph of a young bride and her
groom looking unfalteringly into the camera became an overnight symbol of the country’s
gut-wrenching enmeshment with caste.
Earlier this week on September 25, Kowsalya, the survivor of the fatal assault by her family
on the newlywed couple in Udumalpet, just turned businesswoman, as she threw open the
doors to her new salon, ‘Zha’. She was cheered on and surrounded by anti-caste activists
including Vincent Raj of the Madurai human rights organisation ‘Evidence’, and
actor Parvathy Thiruvothu as she set out on this new journey.
Six years after this young woman made headlines lying in a pool of blood, alongside her
slain husband Shankar, a Dalit man – both assaulted in broad daylight by her family for
their intercaste marriage – Kowsalya, now short-haired with a ready smile, says it is a
milestone that years of life-altering lessons, lonely choices and the fire for justice has
The 25-year-old was previously working with the Wellington Cantonment Board, a job that
was provided to her as compensation by the government, and one she left after she found
it “restricted her activism work.”
“I did a beautician course with Naturals, saved up, mortgaged some jewellery and with the
tremendous support of friends in social justice – who are family now – opened this salon. I
wish to continue my fight for justice and help other young girls who find themselves at the
receiving end of caste-based crimes, by training them, employing them and whenever
possible empowering them to become entrepreneurs,” says Kowsalya, who currently has
two men and two women working at the salon.
“Just a day ago, a mother and daughter dropped into the salon. At the end of their service,
the mother came up to me and said she had wanted her daughter to meet me. This was
one of the numerous times I’m reminded of the fact that there’s a big family for you
outside of your home too. You just need the intent to connect with and transform lives.
A founder-director of the Madurai- based rights organisation ‘Evidence’, Kathir met the Tamil Nadu chief minister on 27 September and handed over a draft of a bill seeking to end honour killings. The bill was drafted by the Dalit Human Rights defender network headed by Kathir.
According to Khatir, the bill would be the first of its sort in the nation if it were to pass in Tamil Nadu. Even though the bill is meant to be implemented as a national statute, Kathir notes that simply creating a precedent in Tamil Nadu will have a significant impact.
“Tamil Nadu sees an alarming level of ‘honour’ killing incidents among the southern states, so the government must take urgent action in the matter,” Kathir said.
With regard to caste, faith, age, gender, sexual orientation, language, class, race, status, and tradition, the bill aims to “give justice, restitution, and rehabilitation in crimes perpetrated in the name of honour.” The bill goes into great length regarding the different types of victimisation that might take place in the name of honour, as well as the kinds of monitoring and compensating procedures that must be put in place.
These are aspects that are not covered in the only other ‘honour’ killing bill to have been passed in the country in 2019 by the Rajasthan Legislative Assembly.
There are some elements that other honour killing legislation was not approved by the Rajasthan Legislative Assembly in 2019.
“Three-page measure that does not understand the topic in depth,” is how Kathir describes the Rajasthan bill. Activists had criticised several problems at the time, including the 2019 bill’s omission of the parents as intercommunity couples’ threats, according to the Indian Express.
Furthermore, there is no provision in the 2019 draught for couples to register a threat against them so that an injunction can be granted against the party making the threat. Both of these issues are explicitly addressed in the bill that the Dalit Human Rights Defenders Network has created.
In addition to the Prevention of Atrocities Against Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes Act, Kathir emphasises the necessity for a similar bill. Since the victims of intercaste marriages are also members of a dominant caste, their slayings would only be reported under the IPC.
However, there must be a rule that recognises this when caste pride is the driving force behind the crime. Second, patriarchy denies women the freedom to select their partners or penalises them for doing so. Both of these things are taken into account in the bill. It’s interesting to note that the bill aims to safeguard anyone in a relationship, not just married couples, regardless of gender, sexual orientation, class, religion, or caste.
Kathir also says that the CM has assured them that he will consider the bill.
Kathir, Executive Director of Evidence, an NGO working for the upliftment for the welfare of downtrodden people, on Tuesday met Chief Minister M K Stalin and urged him to enact a special legislation against honour killing.
“Enacting a special law against honour killing is the first step towards eradication of castes and the ruling DMK government which claims to be functioning on Dravidian model can enact a law. The law, if enacted, will serve as a model for the entire country,” said Kathir, while addressing the media, after meeting the Chief Minister.
During the meeting, Kathir also presented a 17-page draft of the special law against honour killing. Kathir, for long, has been fighting against honour killing by supporting the victims of honour killings and taking up their case to the courts fighting a legal battle for them.
Kathir said that there is no legislation against honour killing in the country and if Tamil Nadu enacts such a law it will be the first time that such a law is enacted. “Only Rajasthan has passed a draft Bill against honour killing, but the Bill too has not been implemented. Tamil Nadu should pass a legislation against honour killing immediately,” added Kathir.