Dowry deaths are deaths of married women who are murdered or driven to suicide by continuous harassment and torture by their husbands and in-laws over a dispute about their dowry.
In India traditional marriages, the dowry system, perpetuates the concept of the girl’s parents giving gold, money, cars, homes and other material goods to the boy’s family for ‘taking care’ of their daughter. It reinforces the ‘belief’, that Indian society has long perpetuated, that girls and women are a burden on society. This in turn reduces a girl’s value to the money and material goods she brings to her wedded house. For centuries, this has been a system actively follow. It’s also projects the boy and his family as superior to the girl’s and the girl’s parents are ‘expected’ to service the boy’s family with special treatment. The amount of dowry often becomes an issue of contention between the two families, and eventually leads to pressure on the girls who either suffer the marriage or kill themselves.
India reports the highest total number of dowry deaths with 8,391 such deaths reported in 2010, meaning there are 1.4 deaths per 100,000 women. Dowry death is considered one of the many categories of violence against women, alongside rape, bride burning, eve teasing, female genital mutilation, and acid throwing.
Dowry deaths relate to a bride’s suicide or killing committed by her husband and his family soon after the marriage because of their dissatisfaction with the dowry. Most dowry deaths occur when the young woman, unable to bear the harassment and torture, commits suicide. Most of these suicides are by hanging, poisoning or by fire. Sometimes the woman is killed by being set on fire by her husband or inlaws; this is known as “bride burning”, and is sometimes disguised as suicide or accident. In dowry deaths, the groom’s family is the perpetrator of murder or suicide. Dowry deaths in India are not limited to any specific religion. Gifts given without a precondition are not considered dowry, and are legal. Asking or giving of dowry can be punished It replaced several pieces of anti-dowry legislation that had been enacted by various Indian states. Murder and suicide under compulsion are addressed by India’s criminal penal code. The dowry custom reinforces the idea that girls and women are a burden on society and that their value can be reduced to money and material goods.
Dowry death is a non-bailable and cognizable offence. As per Section 41 of The Code Of Criminal Procedure, 1973 the police officer while arresting any person without a warrant, be satisfied with the complaint registered against a person and fulfil all the provision of Section 41 of CrPC.
A young 27 year old PhD scholar committed suicide because her in-laws were not okay with her continuing studies. A flight attendant Anissa Batra who jumped off her terrace, her parents say, was tortured emotionally for dowry.
Whoever commits dowry death shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than seven years but which may extend to imprisonment for life.
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