Even though giving or receiving a dowry is illegal in India, as is murder of course, 8,233 women were killed there last year due to arguments over this age-old custom, according to the country’s National Crime Records Bureau.
In preparation for a marriage, a dowry can be bestowed upon the groom by the bride’s family in the form of money or property. The practice has been banned in India since the Dowry Prohibition Act was passed in 1961. However, there has been a rise in dowry-related crimes in the country. Sky News explains:
Loopholes in dowry prevention laws, delays in prosecution and low conviction rates have led to a steady rise in dowry-related crimes, women’s rights activists and police said.
The conviction rate for such crimes is at 32%, according to the bureau.
Activist Ranjana Kumari said the dowry demands had intensified since India’s recent economic boom.
She blamed a growing culture of greed as India opens its economy to foreign goods that the younger generation cannot afford but badly want.
She said: “Marriages have become commercialised. It’s like a business proposition where the groom and his family make exorbitant demands.
“And the wealthier the family, the more outrageous the demands.”
Suman Nalwa, a senior New Delhi police officer dealing with crimes against women, said dowry practices extended to all classes in society.
“Even highly educated people don’t say no to dowry,” she said.
These disputes can go on for years after a wedding, and if a payment is deemed insufficient, women are often drenched in gasoline and set afire.
—Posted by Natasha Hakimi
haypelones (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
Brides in Pushkar, India.