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David D E Evans
Love and Honour?
"Love and Honour? Marriage for Peace, exposes the ongoing phenomenon of Romeo and Juliet style romance tragedy; families killing their own and other families' daughters, sons, sisters and brothers in the name of family 'honour"". Focused on Northern India and Nepal, the stories illustrate that despite India adopting a democratic constitution in 1950, the public murder of forbidden lovers continues. Media reports of this phenomenon did not surface until 1993, but have increased dramatically since then. Love and Honour? Marriage for Peace has been written to seek a path from murder to reconciliation, to acceptance and ultimately to marriage for peace."
Haunted by the question of “why would parents kill their own children,” Evans reports on years of study of what he calls “Romeo and Juliet-style” romantic tragedy–and the human tendency to kill one’s own in the name of honor. Drawing on myth, literature, and all too tragic real life incidents, Love and Honour? focuses on the areas of Northern India and Nepal in recent decades, especially cases between Hindu and Muslim lovers and their families, recounting shocking instances of romantic relationships and their attendant violence that have only increased since the ratification of India’s democratic constitution in 1950. This brief but wide-ranging book introduces and defines the romance tragedy phenomenon and, through pained presentation of specific cases, endeavors to illuminate a path toward progress–and to aid in the reconciliation process for Hindus and Muslims.

Evans’s terms “love” and “honor” stem from the romantic relationships between caste or religious sects, where the term “honor” (or questioning one's honor) comes from societal and traditional expectations surrounding marriage and family. Evans questions what it means to honor, and what can be changed when relationships inspire violence and “[echo] themes found in legendary stories.” He sees telling these stories–and spreading the word that nonviolence is an acceptable alternative–as a step toward ending the phenomenon.

Stemming from his research that led to a PhD, this compact, approachable volume reads a bit like a thesis, though Evans, who is not a resident of the region, rather than just document a phenomenon, urges action, arguing what needs to be done to stem honor killings and suggesting that there’s a clear path of “stepping stones” leading to “progress.” (His research is qualitative rather than quantitative.) Those interested in peace, justice, and reconciliation issues will find this book of interest, and those with a particular interest in religious studies, myth and world literature, and law will also find much of Evans’ research compelling.

Takeaway: A compact, approachable treatise on the phenomenon of honor killings and forbidden love in Northern India and Nepal.

Great for fans of: Minoo Alinia’s Honor and Violence against Women in Iraqi Kurdistan, Ayşe Önal’s Honor Killing.

Production grades
Cover: B-
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: C
Editing: A-
Marketing copy: B