by Editor (Editor's Desk, Crescent International Vol. 42, No. 9, Dhu al-Hijjah, 1434)
India claims to be the world’s largest democracy and that it is making great economic progress but none of this has trickled to the women of India. Dowry-related deaths have increased alarmingly and are drawing attention.
India claims to be the world’s largest democracy that has supposedly made great economic progress ushering major social changes including the rights of women. Historically women have been the most oppressed group in India.
What is the reality? Sati, the Hindu practice of a widow being incinerated on the funeral pier of her dead husband was constitutionally banned in 1952 yet a widow was burned as recently as 1988.
There are, however, other kinds of deaths that have replaced sati. Dowry-related deaths have escalated alarmingly in India despite its alleged economic progress. India’s National Crime Records Bureau says 8,233 women were killed across India last year because of dowry-related disputes. This is nearly one woman dying every hour.
Although illegal, dowry is a major determinant in whether a girl gets married. Even if the marriage takes place but the groom’s family considers the dowry inadequate, the bride is often burned alive. The standard excuse is that she got burned when the stove she was cooking food on flipped, spraying her with kerosene.
The groom’s mother or sisters often perpetrate this gruesome act. The bride is doused with kerosene and set on fire.
Given the pathetic state of India’s police and judiciary, conviction rate of dowry-related crimes is a mere 32%. Women’s rights groups decry the loopholes in dowry prevention laws, delays in prosecution and low conviction rates for the rise in dowry-related deaths.