Dowry deaths: One woman dies every hour

NEW DELHI: One woman dies every hour due to dowry related reasons on an average in the country, which has seen a steady rise in such cases between 2007 and 2011, according to official data.

National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) figures state that 8,233 dowry deaths were reported in 2012 from various states. The statistics work out to one death per hour.

The number of deaths under this category of crime against women were 8,618 in 2011 but the overall conviction rate was 35.8 per cent, slightly above the 32 per cent conviction rate recorded in the latest data for 2012.

The number of dowry deaths in the country has seen a steady growth during the period between 2007 and 2011. While in 2007, 8,093 such deaths were reported, the numbers rose to 8,172 and 8,383 in 2008 and 2009 respectively.

In 2010, 8,391 such deaths were reported, according to the NCRB.

The agency is the central nodal department to collect and process crime statistics at the national level.

Suman Nalwa, additional deputy commissioner of Delhi Police (Special Unit for Women and Children), said the problem is not only limited to the lower or middle class.

“Higher socio-economic strata is equally involved in such practices. Even the highly educated class of our society do not say no to dowry. It runs deep into our social system,” she said.

The Dowry Prohibition Act of 1961, prohibits the request, payment or acceptance of a dowry, “as consideration for the marriage” and dowry here is defined as a gift demanded or given as a pre-condition for a marriage.

“The existing law has certain loopholes and needs to be made stricter. Despite the amendments made to the Dowry Act in 1983, good results are still desired to be achieved,” Nalwa said.

However, Kamini Jaiswal, a senior Supreme Court lawyer, says improper investigations by the police at the initial stage of a case slow down the process of judicial proceedings.

“We need quick conviction in such cases. Our judicial procedure has become very slow, police does not record a case at initial stage,” she said.


Dowry statistics touch shocking high in state

Recent statistics given out by the Bihar State Commission for Women have revealed a shocking upsurge in the number of dowry cases in the state.
The data also indicate that various initiatives taken by the government and different agencies have come a cropper. Last year, the number of dowry cases reported was 1,265, whereas the count has touched almost 1,000 till now this year.
A dowry case, relating to one Priyanka Soni (now 21), was reported to the Bihar State Women Commission from Chhapra recently. The girl was married to a man in Chhapra. The husband, employed in a private firm, relocated to Delhi. Thereafter, he landed a job in a public sector bank. He sent Priyanka back to Chhapra, promising to fetch her after sometime. Soon, Priyanka got to know that he remarried in Delhi. The girl had no other option than to knock on the doors of the Bihar State Commission for Women. Talking of atrocities related to dowry, a member of the Bihar State Commission for Women, Vandana Narayan, said in Priyanka’s case, the father of her husband’s second wife had given a lump sum amount apart from different goods. Vandana said: “Over the last five years, there has been at least a 15 per cent rise in the number of dowry related cases. For example, in order to coerce the bride’s father into giving a good amount of dowry, she is tortured after marriage. At times, she is told that she is not beautiful and good enough. So to compensate those, she must bring a motorcycle or a car from her parents. In some other cases, when the boy gets married due to pressure by parents, he starts demanding a hefty amount of dowry from her family members.”
“Nowadays, the most common trend is that the husband and his family members do not get easily satisfied with the dowry they have already got from the bride’s family. So, as if to avenge that, the boy marries another girl and throws his first wife out of the house. Dowry cases cannot be determined by caste and creed,” elucidated Vandana. Citing another example, Vandana said in Bihar Sharif, one Khurshida Khatun was thrown out of her in-laws’ place by her husband Meraj Alam after barely 20 days of marriage. Everything was fine till Meraj’s brother started torturing Khurshida. Her in-laws told her that she would be killed if she dared come back empty-handed to their residence.
In another case reported to the Bihar State Commission for Women, one Anupam Kumari was forced to leave her Delhi residence by her husband, who hailed from East Champaran district.
Anupam’s father-in-law stayed in Dubaha village, Thana Darba in Motihari district. Barely, four to five days after the marriage, the mother-in-law complained that no vehicle was given as part of the dowry. Thereafter, the husband took her to Delhi. Anupam soon found out that her husband was involved in an extra-marital affair. Even after this , Anupam continued staying there, but she was ordered to fetch Rs 7 lakhs from her parents.
According to Anupam, Rs 6,50,000 and jewellery had already been given to her in-laws , but they were not content with that. After being thrown out, Anupam took shelter at a centre of the commission for women.
When this correspondent approached Anita Sinha, the national president of the Rashtriya Mahila Brigade, she said: “We are training dowry victims, who could not raise their voices against crimes meted out to them earlier, on ways to deal with situations. We train up unmarried girls too, we also go to the houses of victims to explain their in-laws the vice of demanding dowry and discourage them from torturing the brides.”

Indian dowry deaths on the rise


The number of Indian brides burned to death for not bringing adequate dowry payments is on the rise

In 2010, 8391 dowry death cases were reported across India, meaning a bride was burned every 90 minutes, according to statistics recently released by the National Crime Records Bureau.
A decade earlier this number was 6995, but climbed to 8093 dowry deaths in 2007.
Dowry, although banned by law in 1961 but never seriously enforced, is an ancient tradition prevalent amongst most Indian families.
With prosperity burgeoning after the early 1990s when India’s state-controlled economy opened up to a free market system, this pernicious custom became more acute with greedy grooms backed by their families seeking to get rich through their hapless brides.
But if a bride refused to satisfy incessant demands by her husband and in-laws for money and goods, despite having brought with her the mandatory dowry at the time of marriage, she was subjected to inhuman treatment.