Report: One Indian Woman Killed Every Hour Over Outlawed Dowry Custom

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Sept. 3 2013 6:29 PM

Report: One Indian Woman Killed Every Hour Over Outlawed Dowry Custom

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Indian Muslim women hold posters during a protest march against the gang-rape of a female photographer in Mumbai on August 26, 2013.

Photo by INDRANIL MUKHERJEE/AFP/Getty Images

Over the last year, there has been a surge in high profile cases of violence against women in India, particularly cases of rape. The increasing awareness of the treatment of women in India does not mean that abuse is a new problem for the country, but one that is now, more than ever, out in the open.

Adding to the bleak picture of the treatment of women in India, the Indian government released its national crime statistics last week finding that 8,233 women were killed in the country last year due to disputes over dowry payments. That’s equivalent to almost one death every hour. The conviction rate for such crimes was 32 percent.

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Paying a dowry, which usually amounts to a cash payment from the bride’s family to the family of the groom, is officially illegal in India. But, it is a custom that persists across all walks of life in India. “Higher socio-economic strata is equally involved in such practices. Even the highly educated class of our society do not say no to dowry. It runs deep into our social system,” New Delhi deputy police commissioner, Suman Nalwa, told the Press Trust of India.

“Dowry demands often continue for years after the wedding,” reports the AP. “Each year, thousands of young Indian women are doused with gasoline and burned to death because the groom or his family felt the dowry was inadequate.” "Marriages have become commercialized. It's like a business proposition where the groom and his family make exorbitant demands. And the wealthier the family, the more outrageous the demands," women’s rights activist, Ranjana Kumari, told the AP.

Elliot Hannon is a writer in Washington, D.C. Follow him on Twitter.

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