Bride Burning, Murders and Dowry Pressure in India

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Jordan Lamb
October 13, 2010
Research Paper Outline

Bride Burning, Murders and Dowry Pressure in India

I. Women in India are exposed to heinous acts of abuse.
A. Women in India have become victims of human rights abuse. B. Different components of Bride-Burning

II. Extent of the Problem
A. Statistical Analysis of the number of Dowry Related deaths B. Under Reporting of Cases
C. Inconsistencies between police reports and Victim Accounts D. Dowry Pressure leads to Suicide for some dowry harassed victims

III. Causative Dynamics in Bride Burning
A. Rigidity of Divorce law
B. Maintenance of Socioeconomic Status
C. Unemployment and poverty of Husband and In-laws
a. Violence correlation to survival
b. Economic Dependency of women

IV. Different solutions to resolve the problem
A. Legal Action
1. Legal Aid for victims
2. Strict Enforcement of Law for Offenders
B. Social Action
1. Women’s Education
2. Social Boycott and Humiliation of Dowry Murder Families

V. Conclusion

Bride Burning, Murders and Dowry Pressure in India
The subordination of women in India has caused them to become the victims of the human rights abuse, bride burning. The subject of bride burning in relation to dowry has been the site of controversy in India in recent years. As reported by Virendra and Kanth, “The nature and extent of this crime can be considered as a barometer of social health.” The incidences of unreported or poorly documented cases classifies bride burning as a disregarded public health concern. This paper examines the extent of this social issue, its leading contributive factors, and several possible solutions.

In their historical review of dowry, Virendra and Kanth (2004), found that origins of dowry can be traced back thousands of years. They conclude that the bestowing of dowries is “an ancient tradition that cuts across many social strata and geographic areas”. It consists of an ongoing series of gifts, taking place both before and after the marriage, with the aim of 'appeasing’ the husband and his family”. Because of the historical value placed upon dowry, the pressure upon the woman to give adequate gifts is constrained and daunting. Her failure to do so may result in death. As such, defined by Sanghavi, Bhalla and Das (2009, p. 1282), dowry death refers to “the killing of a young woman by members of her conjugal family for bringing insufficient dowry, and is commonly executed by first dousing the woman with kerosene and then setting her alight.” The National Records Bureau statistics show that (2004), from the year 2003 to 2004, dowry deaths increased by 13.2% over the previous year from 6,208 deaths to 7,026 deaths. These figures however, are only reported figures. There are many occurrences of bride burning deaths that are under-reported or are not reported at all. Concluding in their study, Sanghavi, Bhalla and Das (2009: 1282) estimated over 163 000 fire-related deaths in 2001 in India . “This number was six times that reported by police. About 106 000 of these deaths occurred in women, mostly between 15 and 34 years of age.” Similarly, according to The National Crime Records Bureau statistics (2005) there were over 58,000 incidents of dowry harassment. While many harassment cases continue to be documented, inconsistencies still exist as described by the Senior Fellow at the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS), based in Delhi. In Kishwar’s article (2005) she discusses how after 28 years of experience in probing dowry investigation cases led to findings of the incoherent reports from police and law courts compared to the complex detailed accounts of strife from dowry harassed victims. Accordingly, dowry pressure has led to the increase of suicides amongst women in India. Rastogi and Therly (2006) discuss a theory of learned hopeless quoting that, “an oppressive System, women’s experiences cause them to...
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