India’s Outrage: Bride Burning

In the Indian subcontinent, including Bangladesh and Pakistan it is reported that “dowry death”, often called “bride burning”, occurs once every 100 minutes.

You read that right. Married women are murdered by their husband or their husband’s family for the financial opportunities available once the bride is dead.

Although against the law in India since 1961, it is commonplace for a bride to enter marriage with a significant dowry paid by her family, including jewelery, appliances, vehicles, furniture, even a house for the couple.

The theory behind the dowry is that the putative husband is taking over the responsibility of the bride’s family and as she has little value on her own, a dowry must accompany her to make the marriage worthwhile for the groom.

Unfortunately, the Dowry Prohibition Act of 1961 makes it a criminal offence to both give or receive a dowry. Accordingly, bride’s families typically do not seek the assistance of the law when additional dowry is demanded, which is often the antecedent to domestic abuse.

Demands will be made during the marriage that the original dowry was insufficient and additional dowry is required. The wife’s demise means the husband can keep his wife’s dowry and marry a second time with dowry.

While this horrific domestic abuse is against the law, India’s patriarchal society, including its police and Courts of Law, have not taken this inhumane violence as seriously as they need to. An amendment to India’s criminal law was finally enacted in 1986 which reads:

“where the death of a woman is caused by any burns or bodily injury or occurs otherwise than under normal circumstances within seven years of marriage and it is shown that immediately before her death she was harassed and put to cruelty by her husband or any relative of her husband in connection with demand for dowry, such death shall be called as “dowry death”.

India’s National Crime Records show that in 2008 there were 8,172 dowry deaths including suicides, apparently the preferred option for husbands who wish to shed their wives. It is reported that less than 10% of these deaths are even investigated.

Not everyone, however, supports the extension of legal protection to abused dowry wives. Uma Challa, President of All India Forgotten Women’s Association, has written articles decrying the inferior status of men in Indian society. She writes in a publication called “Voice For Men”:

“Thanks to the concerted efforts of feminists, thousands of men are also becoming victims of “legal terrorism”, unleashed through laws like Sections 498A and 304B of India’s Penal Code…”

These sections deal with dowry offences, including murder and cruelty and prescribe the punishment upon conviction.

She also disdains other legislation aimed at protecting women’s basic human rights, including the “Protection of Women Against Domestic Violence Act, adultery laws, rape and sexual harassment laws, and even divorce, maintenance and child custody laws.”

Ms. Challa believes that these laws lead to suicide by men who have been humiliated or traumatized by the “legal harassment” afforded by these laws.

It is difficult to believe that right-thinking people can agree with Ms. Challa’s views but she has her supporters. Mainly Indian men, of course.

Lawdiva aka Georgialee Lang

9 thoughts on “India’s Outrage: Bride Burning

  1. About the 8,172 deaths – In India, every death of a married women, if it occurs within 7 years of the marriage, is considered a dowry death. Whatever be the reasons, the police have a right, to consider the death as prima facie. Even if the wife had died of natural causes.

    Please note – If Indian marriage related laws are implemented in US, or any country, the men will be scared to get married. In India, mostly these laws are misused, by educated women, Precisely the sort, who can read and/or write such blogs :-)

    Rather then going after sensational news, please focus your energies on something constructive.

  2. Sandesh

    I note that your blog, cursedmale, has many stories about Indian men’s rights and women that seek to rely on Indian law. Do you consider that you are wasting your energy unconstructively?

  3. http://www.ndtv.com/article/india/more-married-people-commit-suicide-than-unmarried-report-78941?cp

    LawDiva: These are the NCRB stats. There is no such thing as dowry, because not a single case has been convicted for giving dowry, hence there can be no takers if no givers. The dowry has become a myth, it comes into picture only when the relations are soured. The most misusers of dowry act, dowry death and dowry harassment come from the educated lot. Kindly also throw light on the dowry cases IPC 498A that are convicted without the aid of 304B.

  4. Of course not. I am trying to do my bit, to get these unjust laws nullified. Since India, is a resource constrained country, wasting, precious money on laws, which are used, for the only purpose of revenge, is quite unjust.

    Note – When a wife lodges complaint, she gets govt lawyer. The case is State Vs The Husband, et al. The wife is Prosecution Witness.

    Please have a look at these sections of Indian Penal Code – 498-A, 304(b).
    And Protection of Women, against Domestic Violence Act. (PWDVA), Hindu Marriage Act, and so on.

    Under the garb of “women empowerment” laws are made, specifically for wives.
    Mother, Sister, or any other role, of women, aren’t as recognized as, that of a wife.

  5. This is a feminist propaganda. It is just that many persons commit suicide everywhere…. among married persons husbands committing suicides is more than twice of wives committing suicide. When a husband commit suicide it is treated as suicide, when a wife commit suicide, it is treated as murder. Thereby such statistics of bride burning is manufactured so that feminist organisations can collect huge donations.

  6. eu li este artigo e penso que na India , apesar de toda a pompa e circunstancia que é relaizada a cerimonia de casamento , isso naõ serve de nada. Logo depois, o noivo queima a noiva!!! inacreditável… e tudo por causa do dote. Melhor aqui no Brasil. Não precisamos de pagar nenhum dote e , apesar de nós mulheres trabalharmos pra o sustento da família, na verdade, intrinsicamente, isso é papel do marido. E viva a igualdade !!!

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