A Theoretical Perspective on Dowry Deaths in India

Topics: Marriage, Family, Dowry Pages: 62 (22718 words) Published: April 10, 2010

Area: Rights of women in India
Topic: A Theoretical Perspective on Dowry Deaths in India
a) To understand the concept of dowry as has originated and evolved in India. b) To conceptualize modern day consequences of dowry system. c) To refer to various laws in India and find out reasons for ineffectuality. d) To analyze the trend lay down in this regard by way of various judicial decisions. e) To critically analyze the reasons for divergence between the object of law with regard to dowry death and the practice evolved by judicial precedents. Research questions:

a) What is dowry?
b) How has the concept of dowry evolved in India?
c) What are the various sections of the statutes applicable to the crime of dowry death? d) What are the drawbacks with respect to judicial intervention in the cases of dowry deaths? e) What can be done by the responsible authorities and by the society at large to prevent the occurrence of dowry deaths? Research tools:

The research of this project was carried out with the help of internet and the books available in the library of N.L.U. so the sources are secondary in nature. Case study method has been used to study the concept of dowry death in practicality. In the whole project, uniform footnoting style is adopted in conformity with National Law University.

1) Introduction
2) Evolution of dowry system in India
3) Modern Day Consequences
4) Illegality of Practice: India’s Positive Laws
5) The Ineffectuality of the Dowry Prohibition Act
6) Contemporary Problems of the Modern Dowry System
7) Case study
8) Suggestions
9) Conclusion

Chapter 1

In modern Indian political discourse the custom of dowry is often represented as the cause of serious social problems, including the neglect of daughters, sex-selective abortion, female infanticide, and the harassment, abuse, and murder of brides. Attempts to deal with these problems through legislative prohibition of dowry, however, have resulted in virtually no diminution of either dowry or violence against women.[1]

Marriages are made in heaven, is an adage. A bride leaves the parental home for the matrimonial home, leaving behind sweet memories therewith a hope that she will see a new world full of love in her groom's house. She leaves behind not only her memories, but also her surname, gotra and maidenhood. She expects not only to be a daughter in law, but a daughter in fact. Alas! The alarming rise in the number of cases involving harassment to the newly wed girls for dowry shatters the dreams. In-laws are characterized to be outlaws for perpetrating a terrorism which destroys matrimonial home. The terrorist is dowry, and it is spreading tentacles in every possible direction.[2]

Imagine the plight of a young woman, newly wed and thrust into an unfamiliar situation. She is surrounded by those she has only just met, her new husband and his family. They regard her as a means to an end – she is little more than a device by which to enrich them. She finds herself emotionally and physically harassed day and night because her parents cannot meet all of her in-laws’ dowry demands. Her parents have already exhausted much of their life savings and have little left to give. But because she is a dutiful wife, a good daughter, an obedient woman, she stays at her in-laws, resigned to her fate.[3]

Then, one evening, while she is working in the kitchen, she feels a terrible chill. Someone has doused her with a pail of kerosene and another is about to throw a burning match. Can she save herself by taking off her clothes? No. When doused with kerosene or gasoline, a human being’s first feeling is sharp cold. Instantaneously, aided by one’s own body heat, the kerosene evaporates by drawing out the young wife’s warmth. The match is thrown. She bursts into a ball of flames. A living human being, with a...

Bibliography: Books referred:
1) Beri, B.P., Commentaries on the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961, 17 (Eastern Book Company, 1988)
2) Beri, B.P., Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961,127, (Lucknow: Eastern Book Company 1988)
3) Desai, Neera, and Maithereyi Krishnaj
4) Ghadially, Rehana and Kumar, Pramod, Bride Burning: The psycho-social dynamics of dowry deaths, 169, (New Delhi: Sage Publications, 1988)
5) Grover, Kanta, Burning Flesh, 6, (New Delhi: Publishing House Pvt
6) Hate, Anandrao & Chandrakala, Changing Status of Women in Post-independence India, (New Delhi: Allied Publishers Private Limited, 1969)
7) Hooja, S.L., Dowry System in India: a case study, (New Delhi: Asia Press, 1969.)
8) Jacobson, Doranne, and Susan S. Wadley, Women in India: Two perspectives,( New Delhi: Manohar Publications, 1986)
9) Jamila Verghese, Her Gold and Her Body, 35, (New Delhi: Vikas Publishing co., 1980)
10) Jethmalani, Rani and Dey, P.K., Dowry Deaths and Access to Justice, in Kali’s Yug: Empowerment, Law, And Dowry Deaths, 36, 39 (Har-Anand Publications 1995).
11) Krishnamurthy, S. The Dowry Problem: a legal and social perspective,( Bangalore: IBH Prakashana, 1981)
12) Kumari, Ranjana, Brides are not for Burning, ( New Delhi: Radiant Publishers, 1989).
13) Mathew, Anna, Dowry and its Various Dimensions Women in India: Equality, social justice and development,( New Delhi: Indian Social Institute, 1990)
14) Nair, P.T., Marriage and Dowry in India, 1, (Mumbai: Minerva Associates Pvt
15) Paul, M.C., Dowry and Position of Women in India, 1-2, (New Delhi: Inter-India Publications 1986)
16) Ranjana Sheel, The Political Economy Of Dowry, 18, (Manohar Publishers and Distributors, 1999)
17) Ratanlal, Dhirajlal, The Indian Penal Code, 433, (Nagpur: Wadhwa & Co., 2002)
18) Srinivas, M.N., Some Reflections on Dowry, 18, (Oxford University Press, 1984)
19) Teja, M.K., Dowry: A Study in Attitudes and Practices, 12-13, (New Delhi: Inter-India Publications, 1993).
20) Thankappan Nair, P., Marriage and Dowry in India.,( Calcutta: Minerva Publications, 1978).
4) Dixit, Vinod, Economics and Sociology of Bride-price and Dowry in Eastern Rajasthan, International Journal of the Sociology of Law 19, 3 (1991).
5) Meredith Sherman Fahn, Noncompliance with India’s Dowry Prohibition Act of 1961: A Society’s Reactions to Imposed Law, 4 Temple Int’l & Comp. L.J. 101, 105 (1990)
6) Saroja, K, and S.M
7) Sinha, Shipra Mandal. Modernization, Women’s Status and Dowry in India: The gender in development perspective Washington D.C., American Sociologial Association, 1998.
8) Sitaraman, Bhavani, Law as Ideology: Women, courts and ‘dowry deaths’ in India, International Journal of Sociology of Law 27, 3 (1999).
Websites referred:
1) http://www.asiatica.org/jsaws/fecolumnists.expressindia.com, ( visited on August 3, 2003)
2) http://www.asiatica.org/jsaws/fecolumnists.expressindia.com, ( visited on July 29, 2003)
3) http://www.boloji.com/women/ds06.htm, ( visited on August 30, 2003)
4) http://www.full_column.php?content_id=41908in.news.yahoo.com/030612/43/252hz.html, ((visited on 30 August, 2003)
5) http://www.indiaeyewitness.com/Channels/Issue.asp?IssueNo=49.htm (visited on July 29, 2003)
6) http://www.indiatogether.org/women/dowry.com, cited from ( visited on August 23, 2003)
7) http://www.kamat.com/kalranga/women/faq.htmwww.flonnet.com/fl1617/16170640.htm( visited on 30 August, 2003)
8) http://www.legalserviceindia.com/helpline/help6.htm, ( visited on September 10, 2003)
9) http://www.manupatra.com/legalsearch/cases/ (08_01_2003 - SC).html, ( visited on August 10, 2003)
10) http://www.matchmaker/articlejune13b.html, ( visited on July 27, 2003)
11) http://www.modernmuslima.com/sisters.htm, ( visited on September 10, 2003) Amanda Hitchcock,
12) http://www.womeninworldhistory.com/sample-142.html, ( visited on September 10, 2003)
13) http://www.womeninworldhistory.com/sample-142.html, ( visited on September 12, 2003)
[6] Teja, M.K., Dowry: A Study in Attitudes and Practices, 12-13, (New Delhi: Inter-India Publications, 1993).
[22] Srinivasan, Parvati, the Menace of Dowry, in Quest for Gender Justice, 88, 91, (T.R. Publications Pvt. Ltd. For Satya Nilayam Publications 1991)
[23] The Hindu Succession Act, 1956 § 14
(1) Any property possessed by a female Hindu, whether acquired before or after the commencement of this Act, shall be held by her as full owner thereof, and not as limited owner
[24] The Hindu Succession Act, 1956 § 14(1) Explanation
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