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Dowry deaths are the deaths of young women who are murdered or driven to suicide by continuous harassment and torture by husbands and in-laws in an effort to extort an increased dowry. Dowry deaths are reported in various South Asian countries such as India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. Dowry death is considered one of the many categories of violence against women in South Asia.

Most dowry deaths occur when the young woman, unable to bear the harassment and torture, commits suicide. Most of these suicides are by hanging, poisoning or by fire. Sometimes the woman is killed by setting her on fire; this is known as "bride burning", and sometimes disguised as suicide or accident. According to Indian police, every year it receives over 2,500 reports of bride-burning [1], while human rights organizations in Pakistan report over 300 deaths per year. [2] The Indian National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) reports that there were about 8172 dowry death cases registered in India in 2008 Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; invalid names, e.g. too many. Incidents of dowry deaths during the year 2008 (8172) have increased by 14.4 per cent over 1998 level (7146). [3]

The Dowry Prohibition Act, passed in India in 1961, prohibits the request, payment or acceptance of a dowry, "as consideration for the marriage", where "dowry" is defined as a gift demanded or given as a precondition for a marriage. Gifts given without a precondition are not considered dowry, and are legal. Asking or giving of dowry can be punished by an imprisonment of up to six months, or a fine of up to Rs. 5000. It replaced several pieces of anti-dowry legislation that had been enacted by various Indian states. [4] Indian women's rights activists campaigned for more than 40 years to contain dowry deaths without much success. The Dowry Prohibition Act 1961 and the more stringent Section 498a of IPC (enacted in 1983) did not achieve the desired result. Using the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act 2005 (PWDVA) implemented in 2006, a woman can put a stop to the dowry harassment by approaching a domestic violence protection officer. Due to demands by women's rights activists, the Indian government has modified property inheritance laws and permitted daughters to claim equal rights to their parental property. Some religious groups have urged the people to curb the extravagant spendings during the marriages.[citation needed]

Further reading

  • Dowry and Protection to Married Women, by Paras Diwan, Peeyushi Diwan. Published by Deep & Deep Publications, 1987.
  • Crime in Marriages, a Broad Spectrum, by Poornima Advani. Published by Gopushi Publishers, 1994.
  • Encyclopaedia of violence against women and dowry death in India, by Kalpana Roy. Published by Anmol Publications PVT. LTD., 1999. ISBN 81-261-0343-4.
  • Dowry Death in India, by Geetanjali Mukherjee. Published by Indian Publishers Distributors, 1999. ISBN 81-7341-091-7.
  • Dowry Death, by Kamakshya Prasad, Jawaid Ahmad Khan, Hari Nath Upadhyaya. Published by Modern Law Publications, 2000. ISBN 81-87629-04-5.
  • Women in South Asia: Dowry Death and Human Rights Violations, by Pramod Kumar Mishra. Published by AuthorsPress, 2000. ISBN 81-7273-039-X.
  • Dowry murder: the imperial origins of a cultural crime, by Veena Talwar Oldenburg. Published by Oxford University Press US, 2002. ISBN 0-19-515071-6.
  • Death by Fire: Sati, Dowry, Death, and Female Infanticide in Modern India, by Mala Sen. Published by Rutgers University Press, 2002. ISBN 0-8135-3102-0.

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