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This article is about the practice of a form of domestic violence. For the American hard rock band, see 'Burning Brides'.

Template:Related Bride-burning is a form of domestic violence practiced in Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and other countries located on or around the Indian subcontinent. A category of dowry death, bride-burning occurs when a young woman is murdered by her husband or his family for her family's refusal to pay additional dowry. The wife is typically doused with kerosene, gasoline, or other flammable liquid, and set alight, leading to death by fire.[1]

Virendra Kumar and Sarita Kanth point out that bride burning has been recognized as an important public health problem in India.[2] They say that it is a historical and cultural issue accounting for around 600-750 deaths per year in India alone.[2] In 1995 Time Magazine reported that dowry deaths in India increased from around 400 a year in the early 1980s to around 5,800 a year by the middle of the 1990s.[3] A year later CNN ran a story saying that every year police receive more than 2,500 reports of bride burning.[4]

Bride burning in South Asia

In India

Ashley K. Jutla MD, and Dr. David Heimbach MD, describe bride burning by saying that "the husband and/or in-laws have determined that the dowry, a gift given from the daughter's parents to the husband, was inadequate and therefore attempt to murder the new bride to make the husband available to remarry or to punish the bride and her family."[5]In India, the amount of money a family can give as dowry is considered to be a solid evidence of their richness.

In 1961, the Government of India passed the Dowry Prohibition Act, making the dowry demands in wedding arrangements illegal.[6]

In 1986, the Indian Parliament added "dowry deaths" as a new domestic violence crime. According to the new section 304-B of the Indian Penal Code, where a bride, "within 7 years of her marriage is killed and it is shown that soon before her death, she was subjected to cruelty or harassment by her husband, or any relative of her husband. or in connection with any demand for dowry, such death shall be called 'dowry death' and such husband or relative shall be deemed to have caused her death."[6]

The offenders can be sentenced for any period from a minimum of 7 years in prison to a maximum of life.[7] However, many cases of dowry-related domestic violence, suicides and murders have been reported. A 1997 report claimed that at least 5,000 women die each year because of dowry deaths, and at least a dozen die each day in 'kitchen fires' thought to be intentional.[8]

Suggestions to prevent bride burning are being developed, including:

an increase in the standard of education for women, which will encourage economic and emotional independence; proper implementation of existing laws along with new, stricter legislation to abolish dowry related crimes; and the establishment of voluntary associations to decrease the importance of dowries in general. Community-level programs are essential, and must include doctors, who bear special responsibilities to help change the social milieu in which this phenomenon occurs.[2]

In Pakistan

The BBC reports that in Pakistan the Progressive Women's Association say that "three-hundred Pakistani women are burned to death each year by their husband's families" and that bride-burning incidents are sometimes disguised as accidents such as an 'exploding stove'.[9] They also report that according to the Association Doctors say that victims presenting from these accidents have injuries inconsisent with stove burns.[9] According to an Amnesty International report in 1999, though 1,600 "bride-burning" were reported, sixty were prosecuted but only two resulted in convictions.[10] Many such crimes are also labelled as Honour Killings.[citation needed]


File:Say no to dowry.jpg

Karnataka Forum for Dignity poster in Bangalore, India

In Pakistan, women including Shahnaz Bukhari, the chief coordinator of the Progressive Women’s Association, have been campaigning for protective legislation, women’s shelters and hospitals with specialized burn wards.[11] Although the government of Pakistan has rejected any legal prohibition against dowry and "honor" killings, there are indications that pressure from within, as well as from international human rights groups may be increasing the level of awareness within the Pakistani government.[12]

See also


  1. Ash, Lucy (2003-07-16). "India's dowry deaths". BBC. Retrieved 2007-07-30.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Kumar, Virendra, and Sarita Kanth, 'Bride burning' in The Lancet Vol. 364, pp s18-s19.
  3. Pratap, Anita, Time Magazine, September 11, 1995 Volume 146, No. 11
  4. Yasui, Brian (1996-08-18). "Indian Society Needs To Change". CNN.,8599,100748,00.html. Retrieved 2007-08-24.
  5. Love Burns: An Essay about Bride Burning in India in Journal of Burn Care & Rehabilitation. 25(2):165-170, March/April 2004.
  6. 6.0 6.1 "The Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961". Retrieved 2006-12-24.
  7. Deller-Ross, Susan. "Legal Framework Surrounding Domestic Violence." (explaining section 304-B of the Indian Penal Code)
  8. Kitchen fires Kill Indian Brides with Inadequate Dowry, July 23, 1997, New Delhi, UPI
  9. 9.0 9.1 "World:South Asia Bride burning 'kills hundreds'". 1999-08-27. Retrieved 2009-06-11.
  10. "Honour killings of girls and women (ASA 33/018/1999)". Amnesty International. 1999-09-01. Retrieved 2006-12-29.
  11. Ali, Sahar (2003-07-28). "Acid attack victim demands justice". BBC. Retrieved 2007-07-30.
  12. 'Pakistan: Honour killings of girls and women' in Amnesty International Report 1999, (London: September 1999)

Further reading

  • Bride Burning: Crime Against Women, by A. S. Garg. Published by Marketed by the Bright Law House, 1990.
  • Bride burning in India: a Socio Legal study, by Mohd Umar. Published by APH Publishing, 1998. ISBN 8170249228.
  • South Asians and the Dowry Problem (Group on Ethnic Minority Studies (Gems), No. 6, ed. by Werner Menski (Trentham Books, 1999)

External links


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